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Unlocking the Power of Play: HTML5 and Video-Based Playable Ads

Did you know there is more than one type of playable ad? Among playable ads, there are two primary formats: HTML5 playables and video-based playables. While both types of interactive ads aim to captivate potential users, their approaches and capabilities vary, making them unique tools in a marketer's arsenal.

Learn the unique benefits of each type of playable and why testing both is vital to a well-rounded digital ad strategy.

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What are Playable Ads?

Playables are interactive ad units that offer users a taste of an app or game before committing to a download. This ‘try before you install’ experience enhances user engagement, conversion, and retention.

  • Higher Retention Rates: Playable ads allow users to experience a brand or game firsthand, leading to increased retention rates and user lifetime value (LTV). 
  • Increased Click-Through and Conversion Rates: Playable ad campaigns show significant improvements in conversion and click-through rates. The immersive nature of playable ads captures user attention, fostering a stronger connection with the brand and motivating users to take action. In fact, playable ads convert 2.6x better than other static formats.
  • Lower Cost Per Install (CPI): Playable ads drive lower CPI compared to other formats by providing users with a preview of the app or game experience upfront. This attracts more engaged users, leading to cost-effective user acquisition. In fact, playable ads have an average $1.31 CPI, making them the most cost-effective ad format in gaming.
  • Engagement and Trust: As users opt-in to engage with playable ads, they attract highly engaged users who are more likely to convert. This results in higher customer lifetime value. This also filters out non-committed users, boosting conversion and retention rates while reducing uninstalls.
  • Frictionless Experience: Playable ads do not require a download to engage, providing a seamless and frictionless experience for users.


Understanding HTML5 Playables Ads

HTML5 playable ads are interactive ad experiences built using HTML5 coding, enabling a wide range of interactions beyond simple taps or swipes. These ads allow users to engage with different elements of the game or app, such as dragging game pieces, making choices, or solving puzzles. This depth of interaction not only provides a genuine feel of the app or game's mechanics but also significantly enhances user engagement and brand recall.

Strengths of HTML5 Playable Ads

  • Multiple Outcomes: Unlike video-based playables that lead to a singular outcome, HTML5 playables adapt to the user's decisions, creating a customized experience that mirrors the complexity and versatility of the actual app or game.
  • Deep Analytics: The complex customization capabilities of HTML5-based playable ads provide developers with detailed insights into user behavior, preferences, and engagement levels. With this data developers can refine their app or game to better match user expectations, thereby increasing satisfaction and retention rates.
  • Sustainability: Once testing identifies a winning version of a playable ad, HTML5 playables can be evergreen, easily updated with new elements or themes rather than built from the ground up. This mitigates ad fatigue which can often plague other ad formats, like video ads. 

Understanding Video-Based Playbale Ads

Video-based playables, on the other hand, are derived from traditional video ads enhanced with interactive hotspots. These ads typically guide users through a linear narrative, with minimal interaction options such as tapping or swiping to continue. Although they may not offer the depth of interaction that HTML5 playables provide, video-based playables have their own set of advantages.

Strengths of Video-Based Playable Ads

  • Extend the Life of Video Ad Content: By adding interactive elements to a well-produced video, advertisers can create a fresh and engaging ad experience with minimal additional investment. 
  • Compatibility: Video-based playables are widely compatible across various ad networks and platforms, offering a broad reach that can be particularly useful in awareness and user acquisition campaigns.
  • Simple to Produce: Given the limited interactions and outcomes of video-based playables, these units can be easier to produce. What’s more, these playables don’t require HTML5 coding. 

It’s also worth noting that video-based playables may require more frequent updates to prevent ad fatigue.

Choosing the Right Playable Ad Strategy

Rather than viewing HTML5 and video-based playables as competing formats, advertisers should consider them as different aspects of a robust interactive ad strategy. Each format has its strengths and ideal use cases, with HTML5 playables excelling in offering a deep, interactive preview of an app or game, and video-based playables providing a quick, engaging teaser that can be widely distributed.

To maximize the effectiveness of your ad campaigns, consider serving and testing both types of playable ads. This approach allows you to capture a wider audience by catering to different user preferences and interaction styles. For instance, HTML5 playables can be deployed in environments where users are more likely to engage deeply with the ad, such as gaming platforms or apps with high user engagement. Meanwhile, video-based playables can be utilized in broader, more general contexts where the goal is to quickly capture interest and drive conversions.


The decision between HTML5 and video-based playables doesn't have to be an either/or proposition. By integrating both formats into your advertising strategy, you can harness their unique advantages to build a more dynamic, engaging, and effective campaign. 

  • HTML5 Playable Ads:
    • Offer Multiple Outcomes and deeper interaction than video-based playables.
    • Provide Deep Analytics, giving valuable insights into user behavior and preferences.
    • Sustainable and Evergreen: Can be easily updated, reducing ad fatigue.
  • Video-Based Playable Ads:
    • Extend Video Ad Content: Refresh existing video ads with interactive elements.
    • Wide Compatibility: Ensures broad reach across networks and platforms.
    • Simplicity in Production: Easier to produce due to limited interaction and outcomes, though may require frequent updates to combat ad fatigue.
    • Strategic Integration: Leverage both HTML5 and video-based playables to cater to diverse user interactions and preferences. This dual approach enriches your ad strategy, capturing a broader audience and maximizing campaign effectiveness 


CRAFTSMAN+: Pioneering Playable Ad Innovations

At CRAFTSMAN+, we understand the power of playables in driving user engagement and brand loyalty. Our suite of interactive creative services and tools, including PLAY, is designed to empower brands with the ability to create, test and optimize both HTML5 and video-based playable ads at scale. 

Ready to explore the possibilities with playables? CRAFTSMAN+ is here to help you unlock the full potential of your ad creatives.

Ready to transform your brand’s digital presence with gamification? CRAFTSMAN+ specializes in crafting engaging gamified experiences that captivate audiences and drive brand loyalty. Whether through innovative playable ads or immersive brand experiences, our team can help you leverage gamification for sustained revenue and brand visibility.