There are two main reasons playable ads offer a beguiling option for game developers, publishers, and marketing teams.
Primarily, of course, they give a player a chance to try a game without having to spend a penny or download a kilobyte. Equally, there's a good chance that those who do click through and download the game are likely to be readily engaged, retained users who are more willing to spend money.
After all, if they like the playable demo enough to step up as a downloading user, there's every chance they are the kind of player who will like your game. Making playables, however, is a tricky business. Traditionally, you've either needed the budget to commission a playable from a third party, or the skills and time to craft your own. The latter is often a tempting option for those with developers onsite, but it might well mean taking resource away from the important business of creating and maintaining a given game.
That's the reason playable specialist Synative created its Playable Studio, offering a suite of tools that let anyone with reasonably everyday tech skills the ability to build playable ads quickly, easily, and efficiently. Playable Studio has been available for a few months, but earlier this month the ad-tech outfit revealed it had partnered with the Google Play Store. That means Synative now offers one of the only reasonable ways that a game company can easily and quickly build their own demos for the popular 'Try Now' button.
"We know there's a lot of people who provide the opportunity to do playable ads", Luke Stapely, senior marketing manager at Synative, tells TheGamingEconomy. "But the problem is, for a lot of those options it takes a lot of time – maybe one to two weeks to get one playable ad done. And it can cost a lot of money, like USD$5,000-15,000 [£3,816-11,451] to have just one ad made. We wanted to give people the opportunity not only to make their own playable ads, but to also be able to make as many as they want, and do a lot of different testing with, and updates to, those ads."
There, Stapely has hit on a key point. We all know mobile games in particular thrive when they are regularly updated, frequently fed new IAP content, made the subject of player events, re-themed, and so on. That's a lot of work. But making an accompanying stream of playable to complement a game delivered as a live service? Not every gaming company is blessed with the budgets and resources needed for that effort.
Strictly speaking, Synative Playable Studio is a 'playable video solution' that takes the form of a highly specialised video editing package. The video heart at the technology's core is the reason it is so accessible as a creative platform. In essence, a Playable Studio user simply uploads a video of their game into the browser-based suite of tools, and then with an intuitive system activates parts of the video to be interactive. Put more simply still, the tech lets you turn a video into a playable. Equally, images, gifs, and audio can be uploaded into the system.
Watching a demo firsthand, the tools suite appears approximately comparable to the likes of consumer-facing editing software that might come preinstalled on a Mac or Windows laptop. Synative Playable Studio's ability set appears entirely high end, but you won't need to be a hardened C++ coder to make any inroads. In fact, you won't need to code at all.
"We want to make it so that every single marketer can build a playable ad, even if they only know PowerPoint and how to cut a basic video", enthuses Stapley. "That's enough for you to make one of our playable ads. And that allows not only marketers to build them; even if you're just a small team with two people, you can still make your own playable ads and harness that potential."
Playable Studio also promises to make the process of testing, iterating, and updating ads straightforward and fast. It has equally been conceived to support as many platforms as possible, so wherever you chose to advertise, you should be able to deliver Synative-powered playables. And then there's that recent addition of support for Google's increasingly impactful 'Try Now' button.
But how is Synative's option really distinct from other offerings that let you deliver playables through Google Instant Play? For one, most other service providers in the space build content for you.
"The thing that makes what we are doing a little different is that we are allowing people to make their own 'Try Now' button content, compared to other companies", Stapley explains. "A lot of people want that option, where they get to directly control what players see, what they do, and how they act. Sometimes a third party might be able to let you do everything that you want to do, but with us it's very simple to do it all yourselves, and kind of control their games' own destiny."
Playable Studio already supports myriad ad networks, including Unity Ads, Google Ads, AdColony, Tapjoy, Vungle, IronSource, and doubleclick. For those looking to try Synative's Playable Studio firsthand, a seven-day free trial is currently on offer via the company's website. After that, various paid subscription offers are available, starting at USD$1,499 (£1,144) a month.