Next time you notice an ad for a smartphone game, you may be able to test the app out before deciding whether you actually want to download it or not.
That's the idea behind Google's new "Trial Run" ad format, which will give people 60 seconds of playtime before they decide whether or not a game deserves a spot on their homescreen.
It makes sense: How will you know whether you find Cookie Jam amusing until you actually get to spend some time playing?
Advertisers will still only have to pay when a user installs their app, not every time someone runs though a trial game.
That way, they'll only be shelling out for users who are genuinely interested in playing the game, versus those who downloaded it based simply on a product screenshot, catchy description, or a whim.
This new format actively tries to counteract recent Google research that showed that one in four downloaded apps never gets used at all. Trial run ads are a form of mobile app-install ads, which has become the most lucrative of all ad types, driving one-third of all mobile ad revenue. Advertisers are willing to pay more for them because they lead to an actual effect—a download—versus simply brand awareness. But if advertisers suspect that people aren't using an app once the ad drives them to download it, it's not worth as much. This new format proves much stronger intent to actually play a company's game once it's on their phone.
The move also follows not long after Google announced that it would let users "stream" a select handful of apps through mobile search without downloading them. The same virtual machine and Google Cloud platform technology powers both experiences.
Here's how the experience will look:
Google is also launching a beta test of more interactive interstitial ads. Interstitials are the kinds of ads that pop up and take over your whole phone screen. Google will now let advertisers customize them with HTML5 to make them more engaging ads. For example, the ecommerce site Zalora is testing an ad that prompts people to scroll through a bunch of different pictures: