Australian advertisers are getting mobile video all wrong

In August 2017, less than 2% of mobile in-app video ads viewed by Australian audiences were produced in vertical orientation, and that's just the tip of the iceberg that is the advertising industry's failure to get mobile video right, writes InMobi's Anne Frisbie.

Video drives the biggest engagement with consumers, but many Australian advertisers don’t have a strong strategy for mobile and are often not reaching the full potential of the small screen medium.

This trend is troubling but it’s not confined to Australia. Even in North America I see advertisers leaping ahead before considering the nuances of mobile. This is disconcerting since huge numbers of consumers view videos on mobile devices and spend a majority of their time in-app (85%+), instead of on the mobile web (15% or less). With so much up-side to delivering the right mobile experience, these oversights are surprisingly common.

Of course, some of these issues are historic. The effectiveness of mobile video is often undermined by the fact that video ad tech was built for browser-based experiences not in-app experiences.

Reach, render rates, completion rates and viewability metrics are all impacted by outmoded technology with slow load times. By focusing on technology and creative formats that are native to connected devices, advertisers can ensure that consumers are able to receive a buffer-free, instant play, engaging experience.

I often find that brands have not been educated on how and why video performance is impacted. They may feel the technology challenges are hard to navigate, but there are other aspects impacting video on mobile that advertisers can directly improve upon.

In August 2017, less than 2% of mobile in-app video ads viewed by Australian audiences were produced vertically, yet that is the format we all intuitively want to see videos to avoid turning the handset.

Even more significant, landscape video ads ported from TV occupy just 25% of a vertical mobile screen and diminish the viewing experience. There is a need to look beyond the short-term gains within video planning, where the asset is just simply repurposed for mobile, as it hinders the effectiveness of video ads and the growth of the industry. Your mobile specialist partner should be able to provide suggestions on how to maximise the mobile video experience even if you only have horizontal (landscape) video assets.

This could indicate advertisers are guilty of a lack of informed planning or budget or time. But with video expected to be over half of Australia’s programmatic buying by 2019, according to eMarketer, there needs to be a change in the way mobile video is planned, bought and delivered.

The SDK-based in-app VAST video ad serving platform delivers 98% viewability and 70%+ video completion rates in Australia. So why are most video ads still served on VPAID, an inferior web based platform that delivers less than 50% viewability?

When half your audience are clicking away because of slow loading ads, you’d think everyone would want to move to a better solution. Not enough marketers are aware of how the technology platform can impact reach and performance metrics. VAST delivers better on viewability scores because it enables pre-caching, delivering buffer-free, fast-loading ads.

Marketers need to start not just creating video ads specifically for the in-app experience but conceive interactive concepts for mobile video ads so as they can leverage their full potential for engagement. We know that on average, user engagement doubles through the use of end-cards, yet, as of today, less than 10% of mobile in-app ad spend feature them.

We’re seeing a contradiction in the marketplace. While the rise in programmatic buying reflects the value advertisers place on customer data (location, device IDs, user succession parameters, contextual information, demographics) and transparent performance metrics, we’re also witnessing mobile advertising falling short of converting the opportunity created by the programmatic approach.

As these metrics become core to digital media planning, I expect mobile in-app video to take centre stage for brands that take more time to plan better and invest in creating contextual content.

Anne Frisbie is InMobi’s senior vice president, global brand and programmatic.


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