Beyond pre-roll

Written by Stephen Upstone, CEO & Founder of LoopMe

Written by Stephen Upstone, CEO & Founder of LoopMe

Mention mobile video advertising and most of us will think pre-roll. It’s true that the format has a natural place at the top of the digital marketing funnel, helping brands raise awareness and drive website traffic.

But I think we have become fixated on pre-roll. As the IAB has pointed out, pre-roll is just one part of digital video ad effectiveness. And let’s face it, pre-roll can become irritating when you just want to watch something.

There are so many more exciting formats coming down the pike. I think mobile video is going to find its way further down the funnel, grabbing people’s attention and persuading them, through the art and science of advertising, to convert.

Principal among these I see as native video ads. Unlike pre-roll, native ads are less intrusive and make for a better overall user experience. When they’re in-app they also tend to stay on-screen and are therefore better for viewability (another hot topic doing the rounds currently). This all makes for greater awareness: for example, IPG Media Labs recently conducted an eye tracking study showing that consumers looked at native ads 53% more frequently than banners.

It’s not all rosy for native – yet. There is limited inventory that can actually support native mobile video in-stream. This is where the onus is on us as an industry to enable publishers to embrace this format, by providing clear, concise and up-to-date SDKs.

Looking wider than native, there’s plenty of talk of video of all shapes and sizes booming in 2015.

Look at what the leaders are doing. Off the back of favourable advertiser response, Facebook is rolling out more video advertising. This could well be the major driver behind Facebook’s mobile advertising revenues in 2015, especially if you also consider Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram. This is another intriguing direction, as Facebook sponsored posts could utilise the video capability in Instagram.

And there is also full-screen video. Larger and more engaging ad formats have always been the gateway to more spend on mobile advertising, and advertisers like video especially because they’ve spent the past 50 years building their brands through the rich storytelling that TV enables. Innovative new phablet devices such as the iPhone 6 Plus can certainly help drive full-screen video advertising, scotching the myth that the mobile screen is too small and encouraging the movement of big ad budgets away from TV and towards mobile video.

But it’s not all about video formats. Mobile programmatic video is another key driver which can, in theory, deliver more accurately and at greater scale than YouTube. Advertisers are embracing programmatic as they realise it helps them reach the inventory that simply performs the best. Publishers like its transparency via per-impression reporting, control via private marketplaces, and greater efficiency via the programmatic direct model.

These are just some of the reasons why all the predictions for programmatic are up: for example eMarketer estimates that US mobile programmatic spend will contribute 44% to the total US programmatic market in 2014, up from just over 30% last year, and predicts 2015’s figure to rise above 55%.

Going wider still, programmatic becomes even more exciting in the context of Artificial Intelligence. Above and beyond segment targeting and manual optimization offered by most DMPs, AI and machine learning enable us to detect winning patterns among huge numbers of real-time parameters, with provable uplift in metrics such as video completion rates and post view interaction when compared to non-AI control groups.

Meanwhile, the programmatic and AI engines need fuel, and that fuel is data. Fortunately, there is plenty of it. Telcos are sitting on huge piles of verified customer data that they can harness to drive campaigns. Retailers are also starting to make their data work harder. It’s clear that data has value because data creates value. Enter the age of the mobile DMP…

Really effective mobile video formats, driven by AI and big data. It’s a heady mix. And it’s way, way, way beyond pre-roll.


Written by

Stephen Upstone

CEO & Founder of LoopMe

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