Google is launching playable in-game ads

Maybe you’ve seen this kind of ad in a game you have played: your character dies and then the game asks you to watch a short video ad in return for an extra life. That’s actually a feature of Google’s AdMob advertising service, and today it’s extending this with playable ads, a new type of ad that fits far better into a game.

Google calls these types of ads “rewarded ads” and with the Game Developers Conference coming up next week, this is the perfect time to launch these new playable ads. More than 45 percent of AdMob’s top 1,000 gaming partners already use rewarded ads to monetize their apps, and the new playable ads will work just like rewarded video ads. In return for playing a mini-game — and either doing well in that or potentially installing the full game — players can get an extra life or maybe some fresh loot.

Playable ads are actually one of two new rewarded ad types the company is launching today. The other type is multiple-option video ads. Those give you the option to choose which video ad you want to watch in return for game goodies.

At first glance, these new ad types look like they would take a player out of the game, but at least the playable ads fit into the general mode and state of mind a player is in. As for video ads… yeah… those are always annoying, but at least you’ll get an extra game life out of it.

In addition to these new ad types, Google also is now giving developers a couple of new ways to attract new players. The first of this is the beta launch of video ads in the Google Play Store. These are an extension of the videos developers could already highlight on their Play Store pages.

Another new ad feature for developers is an extension of the existing Universal Ad Campaigns tool. Starting in May (as a beta for select advertisers), developers will be able to target people with similar interests to their best customers. Like so many current Google products, this feature will use Google’s machine learning tools to mine the billions of in-app events it now tracks to advertise a game to the right potential players.

Google is launching a new feature for ad bidding, too. With Open Bidding, ad networks like Smaato, Index Exchange and OpenX can bid to serve ads in an app simultaneously in a single unified auction. While that may sound like something only those in the arcane underworld of ad network developers would care about, it actually makes the bidding process faster and easier.