Making Every Mobile Video Play Count

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Digital video ad spending revenue jumped 35 percent in the first half of last year up to $7 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. A majority of that revenue was attributable to mobile video, which is helping fuel the growth of the mobile category as a whole. But desktop video remains a huge market as well, and then there’s television, and even video ad inventory available on the underground, shopping centres, and more. It’s all enough to make an advertiser’s head spin. 

With video ad spend projected to hit an all time high of nearly $36 billion this year, how are advertisers to get the most from their money and make every video play count? A lifelong media man tries to make sense of it all.

On Mobile vs. Desktop and In-App vs. Web

There is more video opportunities than ever before, so for brands it’s important to consider which mediums are most likely to drive the results they’re looking for. Globally, time spent in apps grew 50% from 2016 to 2018, and consumers now spend more time on mobile — 3 hours, 35 minutes per day — than they do on all other internet-connected devices combined. That alone is one big reason why more and more advertisers are investing in apps but consumers are also more inclined to actually watch and engage with video ads in mobile apps, so that’s a big reason as well.

On Viewability

With video ads, viewability is one of the most crucial campaign metrics because advertisers are trying to tell a story, and that can only be accomplished if their ad is actually watched. If audiences only watch one or two seconds of a 30 second ad, what’s the point?  Other factors in viewability are the percentage of the screen the video player is taking up.  What if the full video is seen but it’s only taking up a small corner of the screen?  Then the percentage of the video that appears on the screen, is a critical point as well. What good is it if audiences can only see the top half of the ad?  I think there’s still work to be done on defining what a good digital video impact is.

On Pricing Models

Too many of today’s video ads are still being bought and sold on a Cost Per Thousand (CPM) basis. This makes sense for display media, but because of the viewability issues discussed above, the type of impressions can vary a great deal when running video campaigns. There needs to be some kind of performance incentive for publishers to make video ads work for the whole ecosystem. At the end of the day, advertisers are trying to get to a cost per completed view metric, whether they are buying on a CPM basis as part of an auction or can actually pay for a verified completed view. The more the industry can embrace outcome-based pricing models, the more effective digital video inventory will be.

On Rewarded Advertising

Rewarded advertising — the type that gives mobile gamers and other audiences in-app rewards in exchange for their time and attention — is growing rapidly, and for good reason. As Mary Meeker pointed out, they are one of the few types of advertisements that consumers actually like. They put the audience in control and let them engage with ads on their own terms. For me, pre-roll and other types of disruptive ads are frustrating because sometimes I’m just trying to check something out quickly and move on with what I’m doing.  What I love about rewarded ads is that I can choose when to watch them. I can play a game and never see an ad but when I’m interested and I want to make my experience better I can opt in, which is great.

On Creative

The video ad campaigns that we see driving the best results are those that tell their story upfront in the first 5-8 seconds, last around 20 seconds, and then have a clear call to action at the “end card” full-screen display unit. We’ve found that humorous videos get the most attention, and that sex and celebrity endorsements don’t necessarily sell as well as some advertisers might think, as our research shows that only about 13 percent of consumers say these types of ads appeal to them. The important thing is to test, measure and optimize creative iteratively.

There may be more video ad opportunities than ever before but people’s time and attention is limited. Choose carefully where your audience wants to see ads, serve them a video telling your unique story and make it easy for them to find out more. It sounds so simple doesn’t it?

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