(Credit: Screenshots: Download.com/Tom McNamara)

Facebook announced today that its adding a feature called "playable ads" to its mobile app, which will download the demo version of a game to your phone or tablet and let you get a taste of the full app without leaving Facebook.

Despite continual efforts by Google and Apple to help users discover new apps, it can still be difficult to find high-quality apps on their stores that are suited to your tastes. This is due in large part to the staggering number of games and other apps that are added to the catalog every day; if yours doesn't quickly rise through the ranks, it's easy for it to get lost in the shuffle.

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Apple began inserting ads into the iOS App Store in September 2016, which can help developers surface their apps when it matches a user's search query. But an indie developer may not necessarily have the cash to afford that kind of marketing. Thankfully, with Apple, there's no minimum spend, but your reach will still scale according to how much you can cough up.

For Facebook's part, it doesn't accommodate a minimum spend, but any developer can sign up by selecting the app install objective during ad creation. If you want assistance with handling playable ads, the announcement contains a list of 13 recommended developers.

Facebook says that Bagelcode has seen noticeable improvements in return on ad spend (ROAS) during the testing phase, which is a measure of how many users you've gained or additional revenue you've collected as a direct result of running the ad. Mobile game giant Rovio also saw improvements in ROAS and a 40 percent lower cost per paying user.

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The evolution of Facebook's ad landscape doesn't stop here. Just yesterday, the Facebook-owned WhatsApp announced that it would begin charging business for the messages they send to users, and ads would start appearing on Status pages. This breaks new ground for the chat app, which has had no actual revenue model since it stopped charging for a subscriptions in January 2016.

Meanwhile, Facebook has struggled for some time now to engage teens and millennials, the exact age group that's most likely to play a mobile game. Playable ads may or may not bring more of the youth crowd back into the fold, but they at least appear poised to make those users more valuable to the company's bottom line.

The takeaways

  1. Facebook announced "playable ads" today, which integrates an app demo into an ad display to get visitors playing a game without having to go through the process of fully downloading an app (or exiting the Facebook app).
  2. Facebook says that some of its early ad partners are already seeing substantial returns on their ad spends.

Also see

Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at Download.com.