Mobile Video, Viewability and the New Premium Opportunities

Nick ReidWhen it comes to the end of year reviews, one of the big stories in 2014 has undoubtedly been how mobile video advertising exploded suddenly emerged as the fastest growing online ad format. The growth of mobile will have a significant effect on the industry, although many people still aren’t fully aware of the opportunities that are opening up on smaller screens. Here Nick Reid, UK Managing Director at TubeMogul, a programmatic video buying platform, explains how the rise of mobile will help drive engagement and solve some longstanding industry problems. 

Mobile video consumption is on the rise, with recent research indicating that advances in technological infrastructure and streaming speeds are driving shifts in viewing habits.

Currently, 20 per cent of mobile subscribers worldwide access and watch video each day, and mobile video ad spend has followed the eyeballs, tripling in the UK in the first half of 2014 according to the latest IAB statistics. As screen sizes expand and targeting capabilities improve, consumers are increasingly drawn to watching video on whatever screen happens to be in front of them. Apple’s recently launched iPhone 6 demonstrates a conscious – and inevitable – move from the tech giant in response to competitors who have embraced larger models that offer consumers higher-quality and more engaging video experiences. But what does this mean for brands and advertisers?

Our industry is acutely aware of the issues associated with desktop viewability. The IAB in the UK has attempted to mitigate these issues by adopting the standard set earlier this year by the MRC in the US, which states that at least 50 percent of a video ad must be viewed for two consecutive seconds on an active tab to be considered ‘viewable’. Thankfully, many of desktop’s issues do not translate to mobile, which could have something to do with BBC Worldwide’s research showing mobile advertising is twice as effective as desktop. However, the real question, given the nature of the mobile format, is whether or not viewability is a relevant metric for measuring an ad’s effectiveness.

Mobile video is fundamentally different from desktop, as the vast majority of mobile ad executions expand to full-screen when initiated. This eliminates issues around the validity of above- and below-the-fold inventory, and also ensures that player-size is no longer a concern. Mobile video also limits viewers to watching one video at a time – unlike desktop, where multiple videos can play simultaneously. It also prevents video ads from appearing alongside other ad formats such as display and native content. Mobile video is, by its very nature, a premium format – perhaps this explains why there is less of sense of urgency to establish a uniform measurement technology for mobile viewability, which does not currently exist.

Most consumers seem willing to watch a 15-second ad prior to several minutes of high-quality content delivered on-the-go – a notion they’ve become familiar with through TV, where content has always been supported by ad breaks. As a result, advertisers are quickly recognising the opportunity afforded by mobile video, and beginning to develop bespoke creative that caters specifically to phones and tablets, rather than just repurposing TV ads.

The skippable element of mobile pre-roll has largely driven this creative strategy, resulting in ads that are attention-grabbing and compelling straight out of the gate. This is best demonstrated by Audi in ‘Gone in 5 seconds’ and Volkswagen in ‘Automatic Skip Ad’ – brands that inject humour into the ad format by skipping the ad for you. This strategy seems to be paying solid dividends: 98% of Americans feel that mobile video advertising is here to stay.

Mobile video’s ascension to the limelight ultimately gives advertisers more opportunity to engage with consumers wherever they are, not just when they’re at home or at work.

As these trends proliferate globally and emerging markets like India become mobile-first economies, brands will allocate increasing budgets towards the mobile format. Although we will still have a number of hurdles to overcome – cross-screen attribution, widespread adoption of MRAID, and frequency capping across devices, to name a few – at least viewability is one that we can confidently say won’t be as big of a problem as it was for desktop.

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