Skip to main content

How to increase engagement through playable content

By Ray Weaver on February 7, 2023

Martin Bjørn Madsen, the former CEO of Playable, thinks that people –  and businesses – should play more.

Playable is a B2B software startup that uses a digital activation platform to assist other businesses in energising their clients. Playable allows businesses to easily customise their campaigns by offering a variety of gaming options and a 'do-it-yourself' platform.

Madsen tells the Native Advertising Institute that interactivity, delivered through gamification, is a must-have in today’s marketing toolkit.


“Content does not exist without anyone engaging with it,” says Madsen. “Engaging people into content through a playing experience is super, super interesting because engagement rates will skyrocket, and the ability to attract more from that defined target audience will also increase.” 

Games as storytelling

Madsen says that humans are hardwired to enjoy games and to compete, and that games are a storytelling tool that allows the audience to enter a world where dopamine flows, which in turn helps brands to be remembered.

“Playing a game is storytelling,” he says. “Think of all the games that you played as a kid. You're going through different worlds and levels and so on. So those two things are two super connected in a native advertising context.” 

Playable’s research found that over half of the consumers surveyed said that they are more likely to click a gamified ad.

Five parts of game mechanics

Playable’s gamification platform helps companies harness the power of gamification by focusing on five specific parts of game mechanics:

  1. Compete: The desire to win over someone else
  2. Have Fun: To feel easy-going, lighthearted, and/or happy
  3. Mirroring: The opportunity to compare ourselves to others
  4. Challenge: A task that the player must accomplish; an obstacle to overcome
  5. Reward: Incentive, feedback, or even the challenge itself

According to Madsen, a customer's experience is more crucial than ever, yet the flood of commercial messages competing for people's attention makes it incredibly difficult for companies to establish a foothold.

He believes that intelligently developed games appeal to the deepest human drivers and connect consumers to companies, so it becomes much easier to find, grow, and keep customers.

"It's all about getting someone closer to this content that you want to promote as an advertiser,” says Madsen. 

Evolving gamers

Madsen emphasised that games can be used throughout the customer journey to immerse audiences in interactive brand experiences that are individually relevant to them.

“Native advertising is nothing without anyone engaging with the content. It’s just a fact,” he emphasised. “As marketers, we need to be ambitious about how to make more people get more and more out of that content.” 

For Madsen, gaming is as much about human evolution as it is about advertising. He says that research has shown that we have been playing games ever since we became Homo sapiens. We will always play games, so for native advertisers, it’s about finding creative ways to take advantage of that uniquely human urge.