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Facebook has started testing a new “playable ad” format today with a couple dozen game developers. The ad is meant to let users get a taste of playing a game before they install it and help drive more high-intent installs.

Facebook plans to talk more about the ad format on stage at F8 2018 (May 1 and 2 in San Jose, California). The plan is to roll out the ad format more broadly, across Facebook’s News Feed and to all advertisers in the app install ads objective, later this year.

“Game developers are leaders in digital, and people love to try before they buy. That’s why we’re working with gaming app marketers to test a new playable ad format in News Feed that lets people play a game before they install the app,” Kelly MacLean, Facebook director of brand and video, told VentureBeat. “We think this creates better choices for people when they engage with app install ads, and gives businesses better likelihood of acquiring more high-intent installs.”

Two game developers that have tested playable ads in beta already have apparently had positive experiences. Miniclip CMO Nick Tsimpidaros said his company’s playable mobile app install ad unit resulted in a three times higher click-through rate, 25 percent lower cost-per-install, and twice the return on ad spend “versus the regular video mobile app install control ad.” Here is Miniclip’s playable ad for the game 8-Ball:


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Tatyana Bogatyreva, head of user acquisition at Gram Games, said the playable format outperformed video on user engagement and ROI metrics “with a 25 percent to 30 percent ROAS gain over video after just a few optimizations and creative iterations.” Here is Gram Games’ playable ad for the game Merge Dragons:

Facebook explained that the growth of video, especially on mobile, is the primary driver behind this new playable ad format. On Facebook, video ads made up more than half of all the app ad spend on Facebook in 2017, the company revealed to VentureBeat.

The social network giant is betting interactivity will be the key to making video ads even more successful. Facebook pointed us to a Wyzowl study that found 79 percent of consumers prefer watching a video to learn about a product over reading text on a page, and a Magna study that found consumers spend 47 percent more time on average with interactive video ads than with non-interactive video ads.

Facebook took this research, along with the fact that its advertisers were asking for more ways to bring engaging video experiences into their app install campaigns, and came up with the playable ad format. Users get a better sense of whether they’d want to play a game before installing, while game developers achieve more high-intent installs and more value from their app ads on Facebook.

At least, those are the goals. A handful of game developers are willing to try it out, and we’ll see whether Facebook has more results to share at F8.

Read Facebook F8 2018 Stories Here