Playable ads have the lowest cost per install of all gaming ad formats

Playable ads have an average cost per install (CPI) of $1.31, making them by far the most cost-effective ad format for gaming.

A new Liftoff report found that Interstitial ads are by far the most expensive of all surveyed ad formats, with an average CPI of $11.29, an increase of 761.3% compared to playable ads. Banner and Native come at $5.48 and $4.93, respectively, while video ads are the only ad format apart from playable ads with an average CPI below $5, coming in at $4.93.

Liftoff states that the result is unsurprising, since playable ads offer consumers the chance to try a game before they commit to downloading. Meanwhile, video ads give players an idea of the game’s user experience, making them more accurate than most other formats.

iOS sees a significantly higher CPI than Android across all ad formats, which Liftoff notes is consistent with the past two years. This is especially notable in the case of playable ads ($6.17 on iOS compared to $0.73 on Android, an increase of 745.2%). Banner ads ($9.49 vs $2.21, an increase of 329.4%) and video ads ($2.48 compared to $9.38, an increase of 278.2%) also saw stark differences, while native ads ($5.46 compared to $6.90, an increase of 26.4%) saw the smallest difference.

Interstitial ads are the least cost-effective ad format on both Android ($8.97) and iOS ($16.01, an increase of 78.5%).

Native ads lead in return on ad spend

While playable ads lead the way in terms of CPI, the format has the lowest Day 7 return on ad spend (ROAS) of all surveyed genres, at 12%. Native ads offer the highest Day 7 ROAS at 18%, followed by banner ads (17%), interstitial ads (15%) and video ads (14%). This suggests that app marketers should consider the balance between CPI and the potential ROAS to ensure the best possible performance of their ads.

Examining midcore games and their ads, Liftoff finds that accurate renderings of the game’s art style and the use of in-game assets can help drive engagement, as they give players a good idea of the game prior to download. In contrast, more stylised ads which misrepresent the user experience can drive users away.

The report also notes the importance of variety in interstitial ads, with players being particularly drawn to those which showcase a game’s level-up or customisation mechanics.

Liftoff also notes the importance of examining player motivation when designing an ad creative. By identifying what drives engagement, marketers can align their ads with these motivations and connect with audiences on a deeper level. For example, Liftoff found that the best performing Match-3 titles include competitive elements, and that creating ads which offer a visual representation of these elements in the form of a leaderboard led to a higher number of ad impressions compared to other ads which highlighted competitive play.
The same report also found that longer video ads have a 50% higher conversion rates than shorter ones.

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