Video advertising is the gold standard for brand storytelling enabling marketers to reach customers with rich content on their most personal device that rarely leaves their side. Indeed, according to a recent study by Deloitte, on average, consumers across all age groups in the U.S. check their phones 46 times per day. Given that smartphones have now become ubiquitous to all ages and at all times of day, advertisers have no choice but to fully embrace mobile in order to engage and stay relevant with consumers wherever they are.
Despite the growth in content and video consumption on mobile, advertisers and publishers are challenged with bridging the “mobile opportunity gap”—or the gap between the amount of time people spend on their smartphones and tablets versus the amount of money advertisers are willing to spend on the medium.
Much of the friction in the mobile video marketplace comes from the difficulty of measuring the effectiveness of video (and any ad format for that matter), on mobile. While desktop advertising has benefitted from having the cookie as its primary identifier to support measurement and interest-based ad delivery, cookies on mobile have limited applicability. On mobile, because of browser limitations and fragmented app/web environments, cookies cannot be relied on as a source of truth for identifying a user with a device. There are workarounds, which will be addressed further on in this section, but as the variety of apps and experiences continues to evolve—especially with the introduction of new formats like vertical and 360° videos—the role of standards will be increasingly important to enable buyers and sellers to agree on how video should be measured and transacted.
Despite the challenges in the mobile video advertising space, advertisers are seeing the opportunity as evidenced in the latest IAB 2016 Ad Revenue Report, where consumers shift to mobile media consumption is reflected in mobile ad-revenue growth.
U.S. mobile ad spend reached $36.6 billion in 2016 accounting for 51 percent of overall U.S. digital ad revenue. Spend is greater than other platforms in an otherwise at media market. In fact, U.S. mobile revenue is over 10x larger than it was just five years ago.
Total Digital Video Advertising Revenue reached $9.1B for 2016, a revenue gain of 53% across mobile and desktop.
Mobile video was one of the greatest contributors to this growth with a 145% YoY increase, amounting to $4.2B, and is forecasted to see double-digit growth through 2019 with no signs of slowing down.
Mobile video—the main driver of digital video advertising growth in 2016—presents great branding and targeted ROI opportunities for advertisers and great revenue opportunities for publishers.
Several factors played into these results:
- A shift towards mobile, the most personal screen experience
- Prioritization of video as the highest yield format
- Major growth in content, tablet, smartphone, and connected app penetration
- Broadband deployment, speed, and bandwidth capacity enabling high quality video delivery
The statistics for time spent watching videos on mobile devices is another indicator of the opportunities that lie in digital video advertising.
In 2015, average daily time spent watching digital video on mobile devices in the U.S. surpassed desktop time for the first time ever. By 2017, mobile time will be almost double its desktop counterpart.
According to ZenithOptimedia, mobile video consumption is set to reach 33.4 minutes a day by 2018, with mobile devices accounting for 64% of all online video consumption. (Graph Source: comScore, Nielsen and ZenithOptimedia online video forecasts).
In considering video content length, long-form video is the dominant performer, accounting for 47 percent of all mobile video plays in Q1-2016. Short-form video followed at 40 percent.
Breaking this down into ad formats, we see pre-roll is still critical, accounting for 47 percent of video impressions. Mid-roll ads are on the rise, attracting users who are already engaged with the content and hence have a propensity for high completion rates.
In terms of consumer demographics, people of all ages are keeping up with technology. Even though millennials are considered to be the biggest consumers of mobile video, baby boomers are now catching up in mobile device ownership, according to data from AARP, the American Association of Retired People. This is echoed by Nielsen in their Cross-Screen Reports series, where they note that nearly three-quarters of Boomers in the U.S. watch at least some video on their smartphones.
While primetime was traditionally defined as the time when households gather around the TV to watch a scheduled evening program, today primetime is becoming “personal” as it moves to mobile, presenting brands with the potential to engage users through digital video in a more immediate and personal way. However, while video consumption is increasingly moving from desktop to mobile environments, this does not signal a de-prioritization of desktop. Advertisers should take a multi-screen approach, as users expect to consume content on whichever device is most accessible to them. The user experience should always reflect the unique capabilities of each device.
While mobile is one of the fastest growing areas in video advertising, it does present a number of challenges:
- Constrained supply of high quality, professionally produced content: Media buyers looking for high-quality, TV-like content may have trouble finding scale for their campaigns. There are still a limited number of mobile publishers offering longer-form, well-produced content. However, with the rise of TV-everywhere applications and lower cost of entry to producing mobile optimized video content, this situation is improving.
- Inconsistent measurement: With so many different formats, devices and platforms—including web and app—advertisers are struggling to calculate the ROI for mobile video campaigns. It’s particularly difficult to measure a video campaign that spans multiple devices, due in part to the fact that third-party cookies have limited applicability inside apps and are natively turned off in Apple’s Safari mobile browser.
- Mobile-optimized creative assets: This issue is mainly driven by reusing :15 and :30 second video spots originally created for TV and desktop without regard to mobile device and platform-specific user contexts and screen aspect ratios, or not having web versus app optimized assets.
Organizational fragmentation: While silos between traditional and digital media are beginning to fall away, many media agencies still have separate strategies and teams for the different types of inventory they purchase such as mobile, video, TV, or display. Siloed approaches hinder the development of more holistic (and successful) multi-platform campaign strategies.
- Viewability: While the industry has made significant progress in measuring viewability on desktop devices, challenges remain in the mobile space. However, there’s optimism as Media Ratings Council (MRC) and IAB recently issued standards for video viewability for both desktop and mobile video that are similar to those of display (50 percent of the ad placement in view, for at least two continuous seconds). Key issues include different brands and agencies having different viewability requirements, different vendors measuring viewability differently resulting in report discrepancies, and discrepancies that result from advertiser vendors calculating viewability differently than publisher side vendors.
Viewability is an area that IAB is currently addressing through the Tech Lab Open Measurement Working Group, which will develop an open source SDK for measurement of viewability in in-app environments. For browser environments, the IAB Tech Lab is developing the HTML5 version of Open Video Viewability in order to standardize this metric. If you are interested in participating in these working groups and your company is an IAB Tech Lab Member, please contact email@example.com.
- Fraud: Fraud remains prevalent in mobile advertising. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and White Ops suggest that while the mobile fraud market is reasonably immature at this point, the threat for this channel is something to watch in the coming years with significant risk affecting mobile ad revenue.
Additional setbacks in mobile include latency and long load times, which for both advertisers and publishers result in high abandonment rates.
Some of the mistakes seen often include:
- Serving the same video pre-roll multiple times during a content series
- Forcing long-form ads ahead of short-form videos
- Reusing video spots without regard to screen aspect ratios
- Auto playing with audio without user initiation
- Repurposing a TV ad, not accounting for ad time tolerance
Poor user experience will most likely prevent a desired outcome, yet effective mobile video ads are hard to find.
Standards & Adoption Levels
In section 4 we discussed the ad tech aspects of video and in doing so we explained VAST and VPAID. Before we jump into the standards used in mobile and their adoption, let’s quickly provide you with a glimpse of the next section about channels.
In mobile you can browse the web through a mobile web or by using a mobile application. Video on mobile devices can be played:
- Inline through the mobile browser viewing a web page
- Through an in-app web view
- By opening a native mobile video player on the device
The below graph provides a summary of mobile video playback capabilities.
- For many advertising applications, inline playback is preferred since it is less disruptive to the viewer’s experience. Playback within a web view also enables HTML5 reporting on metrics related to how much of the creative was viewed.
- When video is viewed in the native player, these metrics are generally harder to access or are unavailable.
Now let’s talk about the standards used in mobile and their adoption.
- VAST is commonly used in mobile for both web in-app.
- VAST-compliant mobile video players are becoming the norm.
- Unlike the desktop video advertising ecosystem, where VPAID is widely available, most mobile video runs via VAST.
- The majority of mobile video impressions are in-banner video or interstitial, where most of the video interactivity is achieved via MRAID.
- MRAID does not apply for in-stream video, but only for banner and interstitial units.
Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definitions (MRAID) handles the interaction between rich media ads and the app or the web view. Without MRAID, ad developers would have to design interactive ads specifically for each proprietary system into which it would serve. The cost of such development would be prohibitive for brands to effectively advertise in mobile apps/web.
MRAID 3.0 offers updates that improve mobile ad execution with features that help track viewability, audibility, clarity on initialization and ad readiness, and detect MRAID environments. It also collects data to present users with the best possible experience, integrates with IAB VPAID for ads with interactive video, and provides guidance on pre-loading ads. Additionally, it integrates the above addendum and offers optional compliance for the host to support ads developed using both MRAID and VPAID.
The VPAID integration with MRAID does NOT handle ad interactions with the player. The integration enables the MRAID host to listen to VPAID events.
- Mobile web typically uses VPAID, but VPAID is still pending adoption in mobile apps.
- MRAID is applicable in mobile app and allows the ad to interact with the native application.
- MRAID allows for ad expansion, inline video play, and interaction with contacts stored on device, photo gallery, etc. MRAID also allows for ads to interact with the hosting application. To do so, the hosting app needs to have MRAID-compliant SDK, and the ad must adhere to MRAID specs as well.
- MRAID 2.0 allows for playing video inline, while MRAID 1.0 does not allow for video.
IAB, IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence (MMCoE) and IAB Tech Lab are continuing to work on solutions to these challenges, particularly through MRAID and VPAID.
IAB Tech Lab and the MRAID working group have developed multiple tools and utilities to help developers test and validate their MRAID ads as well as MRAID implementations in their app or ads SDK. You can find the MRAID v2.0 Test Ads for Video Interstitial Ad.
Other supporting documents:
- MRAID 2.0 is accompanied by the MRAID Video Addendum to address video ads in MRAID environments using VPAID
- MRAID Best Practices
- Choosing Between VPAID, MRAID, and SafeFrame: Moving towards cross-platform delivery
- MRAID Ad Examples (Interstitial and Expandable)
Mobile internet use is divided into two modes: browsing the mobile web and using mobile apps. Many kinds of content or service can be provided or accessed equally well via either app or mobile web. However, some are available exclusively on one or the other.
Media companies, agencies, and marketers face some confusion deciding on whether to focus their strategies predominantly on apps or on mobile web. There is a notion that somehow mobile apps have won, leaving mobile web as unimportant. This overlooks the important role mobile websites play in the total mobile internet experience. In practice, consumers make use of both apps and web browsing, trading off based on expediency and personal preference.
To investigate the question of consumer preferences and behaviors in browsing mobile web versus using mobile apps, IAB commissioned Harris Poll to survey over 2,000 U.S. adults about their views on apps and mobile websites, and how they find and share both apps and websites accessed on their smartphones.
The mobile web is defined as a website that is viewed through a device’s web browser (i.e. Safari or Chrome). It refers to the website’s content and ads within it, displayed within the mobile web browser or displayed by an embedded browser within an application environment (excluding interstitials).
Video impressions on the mobile web are most frequently available as interstitials and there is a limited amount of pre-roll or mid-roll. Currently, mobile web inventory is much easier to whitelist or black-list than in-app placements. If an ad is shown inside a mobile web browser, technology solutions can use the same interest-based advertising methods that are used in desktop, i.e. re-targeting consumers based on previous browsing patterns or serving subject-matter ads based on content categories.
Mobile apps are natively designed to run on various mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
It refers to content and ads within the native user interface of an application and not content within either a mobile browser or an embedded browser within an application environment (an instance where browser is embedded within a native application. Typically, this occurs when a user clicks on a URL in a mobile application and the application executes the embedded browser).
There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace around what is possible in terms of identifying users on mobile and cross-device and how marketers leverage user identity to create more effective cross-screen campaigns.
As mentioned in the IAB Mobile Identity for Marketers Best Practices Primer, mobile device manufacturers and operating system providers offer several identifiers for differentiating device owners, some of which can be used for consumer advertising and marketing purposes and some that can’t. These identifiers can be grouped into two categories; hardware-based and software-based.
Hardware-Based Identifiers (a.k.a. Persistent Device IDs)
Hardware Based Identifiers are associated with physical components on the mobile device, are non- privacy supporting and should not to be used for marketing purposes because consumers cannot turn them off or opt-out of sharing. For this reason, in 2012, Apple, and in 2013, Google, disabled access to these persistent IDs in order to protect consumer privacy. A description of these persistent IDs is presented in this table:
Software-Based Advertising Identifiers
These can be disabled and/or reset by the consumer. The major operating system manufacturers have their own implementations for generating and controlling advertising identifiers. The most prevalent advertising identifiers today, offering the scale needed for marketing purposes, are noted in this table:
There are additional software developers in the space offering unique probabilistic IDs produced through statistical modeling to identify individual devices or environments. These tools are designed to take multiple disparate data points (screen size, processor, OS, etc.) from the same devices in mobile web and app environments and produce a unique ID completely independent of cookies.
- Cookies and advertising IDs are software based mobile identifiers used by advertisers and publishers to manage identity for marketing purposes.
- IDFA (Identifier For Advertisers) is the software based identifier used for advertising purposes on Apple iOS.
- AAID (Android Advertising ID), the Google software-based advertising ID is used by marketers and advertisers on Android devices.
Cookies in Mobile Web Browser Environments
As mentioned in the IAB white paper Cookies on Mobile 101, there is a commonly-held belief that “cookies don’t work on mobile.” A more nuanced and accurate version of this statement would be “cookies don’t work on mobile the way we expect, based on desktop.”
On desktop, cookies work almost universally. For instance, when a user clicks an ad or a link on a website on their desktop browser, a cookie is typically placed on that user’s computer that can be used for follow-on marketing.
On mobile devices, because of browser limitations and fragmented environments, cookies cannot be relied on as a sole source of truth for identifying a device. A number of other tracking methods have been developed to overcome these challenges, because the reality is, cookie tracking on mobile alone is of limited utility.
In thinking about mobile cookie availability and usefulness, it is helpful to review applicability in the browsers/websites and mobile apps world. Most mobile web browsers accept first-party cookies (e.g., a cookie whose domain is the same as the domain of the visited website).
For example, a cookie whose domain is news.com, may be placed by news.com. Different mobile browsers behave differently when it comes to accepting third-party cookies (that is, cookies whose domain is different from the visited website—for example a cookie whose domain is advertisinginfo.com placed on news.com).
While third-party cookies are supported in Android devices, on iOS they are not (the default setting on Apple’s Safari browser has third-party cookies disabled). The variation on this rule comes into play when a consumer clicks on or engages with an ad and then is redirected to a third-party’s website. At that point, the third-party site becomes a first-party since the consumer has now visited its web site on its own domain (and that former third-party, now first-party, is able to set cookie in the user’s mobile browser). Hence, cookies have limited support on mobile browsers, in particular Safari on iOS, but work on the Chrome browser on Android.
There are time limitations that apply to cookies as well. Mobile cookies can be short-lived (session- based) or persistent for longer periods.
Session-based cookies (assuming the user has configured their browser to allow cookies) are temporarily set in the user’s mobile browser while they are visiting a website, but are then deleted when the user leaves the site (or when the user shuts down their mobile browser or turns off their device).
- Persistent cookies however (again, assuming the user has configured their browser to allow first and third-party cookies) can stay within the user’s browser until the cookie expires (as defined by the web site developer or mobile app developer, or until the user deletes their cookies. A cookie without a defined expiration date is a session cookie.
Cookies in Mobile App Environments
As highlighted in “Cookies on Mobile 101,” mobile apps handle cookies somewhat differently than mobile browsers. Apps use a technology called a “webview” which lets people briefly access online content such as websites without leaving the app. Cookies generated through a webview can be stored on the device in an app-specific space commonly referred to as a “sandbox” environment.
This sandboxed environment limits the application’s ability to access data from other apps. The application can still store and access cookies and other data within the application itself, but it is restricted from accessing information from any other app on the device. Because of this, advertisers cannot follow a user from app to app based on a cookie in the same way that they can track behavior within a browser window. Therefore, for any given webview session, the cookies stored in it are unique to the application that launched it.
Apple further describes the purpose of the app sandbox as follows: “By limiting access to sensitive resources on a per-app basis, app sandbox provides a last line of defense against theft, corruption, or deletion of user data, or the hijacking of system hardware.”
The table on “Mobile Cookie Alternatives” was created by IAB Mobile Center of Excellence in their Cookies on Mobile 101 to shows cookie applicability in the various mobile environments.
For more information on mobile cookies, please refer to the IAB Understanding Mobile Cookies.
Mobile Cookie Alternatives
The limitations of cookie tracking on mobile devices have catalyzed various alternative methods of tracking.
The approaches vary in methodology, implementation, and scale. The four most common solutions that are emerging in today’s marketplace include:
- Encryption and Hashing of Advertising Identifiers: Some publishers encrypt or hash their advertising ID’s before sharing externally with 3rd parties. Encryption is a practice of encoding this information with a mathematical algorithm so that only authorized parties can interpret the ID. In the mobile ecosystem, the most common forms of Advertising ID encryption are SHA1 (Secure Hash Algorithm 1) and MD5.
- Statistical ID: A server-side algorithm for identifying a device or user based on the values of a combination of standard attributes passed by the device. Typical device attributes include: device type, operating system, user-agent, fonts, and IP address. Those attributes change over time due to device changes or updates.
- HTML5 Cookie Tracking: Involves storing a cookie-like file in HTML5 local storage on the device. These are similar to traditional cookies, but can only be set or retrieved when the browser is open and running.
- Universal Login Tracking: Requires consumers to log into different experiences using a pre-existing login rather than create a unique one for that experience. This type of tracking is limited to specific vendors, but enables companies with this type of universal login to gather data across applications and devices.
In a continuous effort to standardize mobile measurement, the Media Rating Council (MRC) issued the final version of its Mobile Viewable Advertising Impression Measurement Guidelines in June 2016 The guidelines (subject to periodic updates) provide guidance for measuring viewable impressions in mobile web and mobile in-app environments. They establish parameters for measuring viewable impressions, an industry standard metric designed to represent mobile ads for which the opportunity-to-see is established:
Requirements for Mobile Viewable Video Advertising Impressions:
- A Mobile Video Ad that meets the criteria of 50% of the ad’s pixels on an in-focus browser or a fully downloaded, opened, initialized application, on the viewable space of the device can be counted as a Mobile Viewable Video Ad Impression if it meets the following time criterion:
- Video Time Requirement: To qualify for counting as a Mobile Viewable Video Ad Impression, it is required that 2 continuous seconds of the video advertisement is played, meeting the same Pixel Requirement necessary for a Mobile Viewable Display Ad. This required time is not necessarily the first 2 seconds of the video ad; any unduplicated content of the ad comprising 2 continuous seconds qualifies in this regard.
Sub-Second Ad Impressions apply to display ads only; it is our conclusion that a 2 continuous second exposure is the minimum threshold that should be applied as a measure of the establishment of Opportunity-to-See for mobile video ads.
- Similar to the rules for counting Mobile Display Ad Viewable Impressions, strong user interaction with a mobile video ad may, in certain instances, be considered a proxy for viewability. Specifically, a legitimate tap or click on a video ad (i.e., the click satisfies the requirements for counting a click, based on the IAB Click Measurement Guidelines) may optionally result in a Mobile Viewable Video Impression even if the ad does not meet the pixel and time criteria necessary for a Mobile Viewable Video Impression (but, as noted earlier in these guidelines, a tap or click that initiates a Click to Play video ad would not, in itself, be considered a user interaction that satisfies this criteria). Given the nature of mobile environments which may involve more frequent and inadvertent interaction, clicks or taps to minimize or close ads as a proxy for viewability should be supported empirically.
As is the case with mobile display ads, specific user interactions that will satisfy the requirement of a “strong user interaction” should be appropriate to the advertisement and the environment in which it appears, and they should be empirically defensible as reasonable proxies for viewability. If Mobile Viewable Video Impressions are counted as a result of such user interactions, this methodology should be fully disclosed, and these counts should be segregated for reporting purposes.
The Mobile Video Ad above refers to an in-stream and stand-alone (out-stream) video ad. Banner ads with video embedded within them generally are covered by the display ad criteria for viewable impression measurement. Also note that the criteria specified here is “50% of the ad’s pixels” (emphasis added); if the criteria used to determine viewability is based on “50% of the video player’s pixels”, rather than those of the ad, this distinction should be prominently disclosed, and should be supported by evidence that the impact of using the player as the basis of viewability measurement rather than the ad itself is immaterial.
It is encouraged, but not required, that the orientation (landscape or portrait) of video ads be disclosed as part of placement level reporting.
Emerging Creative Formats
Mobile video ads play a key role in helping advertisers meet their goals in brand marketing campaigns. Vertical, in-stream, and opt-in videos have been proven to enhance brand awareness, with vertical video delivering up to 9x completion rates compared to horizontal video. Furthermore, interactive videos with rich-media, 360° videos, and native in-feed videos help increase user engagement and conversions, and drive sales and app installs.
Given the massive shift toward smartphone and tablet video, focusing on the user experience means, by necessity, putting a premium on mobile. Niche content providers—or “mobile-first publishers”—were among the earliest content owners to get their assets onto mobile devices, allowing them to reap some of the first-mover advantages. However as major studios, broadcasters and operators jump into the game, making their assets available on mobile devices won’t be enough to guarantee success. To stand out in the crowd you’ll need to be able to draw critical insights from the data on every asset, analyzing audience, geographies, latitude/longitude data, engagement and viewing formats, all of which will allow you to better serve your customer.
As the ecosystem matures, it will be increasingly important to adapt to the changing environment. Some of the new formats gaining traction are VR/AR, 360° videos, vertical videos, esports etc. The list will keep on growing so it is vital to adapt quickly. For additional information on these emerging formats, please visit the IAB May 2017 Video Landscape Report.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
Everyone has their “first experience with virtual reality” story. These first VR experiences are often profound, providing breakthrough glimpses into artificial realities that previously were only part of our imagination. For those in publishing, marketing, ad tech, and creative communities, VR opens the door to exciting new opportunities for developing immersive content and brand storytelling.
According to the 2016 IAB NewFronts Video Ad Spend Report, more than three in four survey respondents intend to buy either virtual reality, 360° Video, or augmented reality advertising in the next 12 months.
Market estimates are large. BI-Intelligence estimates that shipments of virtual reality (VR) headsets increased by about 1047% percent year-over-year to 8.2 million in 2016. This enabled the virtual reality space to exceed $1 billion in revenue for the first time, according to research by Deloitte.
The IAB report, “Is Virtual the New Reality?” offers an overview of observations and opinions on VR from a distinguished panel of over two dozen industry-leading voices in publishing, advertising, VR software, and developer platforms. IAB conducted the study in 2016 and the findings offer a market snapshot detailing key takeaways, lessons learned, and future plans in the emerging field of VR.
Some notable strengths of VR include:
- Immersive storytelling: VR allows for focus as viewers are totally immersed in the experience.
- Monetization opportunities: VR will have a massive impact in shopping, real estate, and product demos.
- Emotive: VR has the power to stir emotions and create empathy among viewers in an entirely new way, putting the viewer in the center of a situation that they might not otherwise experience.
- Consumer as storyteller: VR enables the viewer to control what they see as they move their head or their virtual bodies (avatars) through space, essentially turning the viewer into the storyteller.
“VR will change the way people travel and experience new things. You’ll be testing your hotels before you go and testing out products before you purchase”
—Yale Cohen, Publicis Media
Still, the growth of VR faces obstacles:
- VR is still a largely a niche offering.
- The rate of adoption is slow and there is currently a lack of audience scale.
- To fulfill VR’s potential, video content quality and production investment will need to increase and the user’s experience needs to improve.
- While the price of VR headsets are starting to drop, tethered (computer-based) VR remains expensive and cumbersome to use.
- VR headsets require a more solitary undertaking and wearing them for more than brief periods is uncomfortable, limiting interest in longer-form VR content.
- First impressions are critical: While it’s possible to be ‘wowed’ by first VR experiences, there’s an equal chance for them to have an underwhelming, or even nauseating experience.
- The social aspect of VR remains sorely lacking at this point.
- VR is a standalone medium completely separated from other forms of media.
Meanwhile, AR and 360-degree experiences are gaining steam and attention because they don’t necessarily require a headset. Pokémon Go showed how big Artificial Reality (AR) could be. Social platforms like Snapchat and Twitter (through partners like NBC) have also been using AR, and news broadcasters like CBS now have 360-degree apps to help audiences more fully engage with stories of interest in a fully immersive fashion. Facebook also recently announced the availability of 360-degree live streaming and along with YouTube’s announcementof its VR 180 format (which will also support live streaming), immersive video will become more accessible for creators. In addition, Google and Apple’s recent announcements of operating system level support for AR will help foster the development of exciting new AR experiences from the developer community.
The Growth of Esports
Esports is a fast-growing competitive multiplayer electronic video gaming sport, played competitively for spectators, including at major sports venues like Madison Square Garden. Just like traditional sports dominate television screens, esports has found a home in programming as it appeals to a valued, younger audience of gamers and enthusiasts.
Experts in the industry believe this new exposure is bound to catch the attention of casual viewers and to secure a space for esports in mainstream culture. Esports offers media companies and brands new means of engaging with younger audiences who both play games and watch game content. According to Imari Oliver, head of sales and global partnerships at WME|IMG, “Forty percent of people who watch esports don’t play the game.”
As noted in the 2017 IAB Video Landscape Report, the esports enthusiast audience currently skews young (half between age 21-35) and male (71 percent men). The majority of enthusiasts are employed full time and earn a good income, making them a desirable target group for marketers, especially big brands.
If you are interested in participating in the esports working group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org as we will be creating a working group.
Vertical video—mobile video ads that play in a vertical (portrait) orientation rather than the typical horizontal (landscape) orientation—is growing, owing especially to the growth in popularity of Snapchat, one of the largest platforms leveraging the format. According to the IAB NewFronts Video Ad Spend Study, half of advertisers interviewed purchased vertical video ads in 2016.
Vertical Video Creative Samples
Facts about Vertical Video
- Vertical video is growing, driven in particular by the popularity of apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, as well as the lip-syncing app, musical.ly
- Changing consumption patterns make vertical viewing on mobile more common
- Most smartphones are used in portrait orientation, with the most popular size (5.5 to 6”) showing 90% portrait usage (MOVR, Q2 2017)
- While horizontal videos are still widely used and believed to be effective, publishers and brands are increasingly experimenting with and embracing vertical formats
Vertical video leverages 100% of the phone’s real estate (vs. 25%)
Format works well on mobile apps where consumers are used to interstitials being served (in-between articles, songs, game levels, chat conversations, etc.)
Users will likely not rotate their phones to landscape mode to view an ad, but are more likely to when consuming content – therefore, advertisers should get their messages across in best way possible given natural (vertical) hand position.
Vertical videos should be filmed vertically (9:16) at the outset. If shooting horizontally, do so with vertical formatting in mind (i.e. action and talent in center frame).
Vertical video ads can run in IAB Full Page ad units in vertical (portrait) format. Video files should be less than 5 MB with 8-12 seconds duration recommended. Vertical video may also run as a component of an augmented reality (AR) ad or virtual reality (VR) ad.
Shorter (6 seconds or less) ads are becoming more common (with some platforms finding shorter ads having higher completion rates/user retention)
Test short video length actively and assess how duration impacts the normal battery of basic tests: recall (aided/unaided), brand perception, etc.
Drop into action early and feature a simple, singular message.
While it is possible to re-size and crop horizontal ads for vertical use, the user experience can be lacking, especially when borders (letterboxing) appear around the video. Seek out assistance from firms that specialize in resizing/reformatting.
Leverage Static or Rich Media End Cards for a call to action (download, learn more, shop the product within a rich media unit) adding further engagement beyond completion rate.
Leverage the Digital Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) for running vertical video in-app, as it is lighter and will be supported by the IIAB Mobile Verification Open-Source SDK (visit iabtechlab.com/blog/omsdk for more information on Open Measurement).
Challenges with the Vertical Video Format
Not all mobile apps or websites support vertical video (Vertical video can be supported by apps that have full screen video interstitials)
Incremental costs to produce vertical specific assets/content. Generally speaking, true “mobile first” creative is a rarity (most video advertising is still created for TV and then applied across desktop and mobile as an afterthought).
Slow integration of the format for programmatic buying / selling
Vertical Video and Automated Buying Process
Vertical video transacts programmatically today via private marketplaces mostly, as this is a way to ensure the right asset is matched with right inventory.
Most outstream video ad units can also run vertical video ads. This creates a large market to capture audience in content rich environments.
Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) can look at width/height attributes in the OpenRTB 2.5 Banner Object to determine if the placement is vertical.
An issue today is the lack of creative assets which has hampered scale. Publishers have inventory especially via outstream ad units but those units are limited by the creative buyers which have access to and default to horizontal 16:9 ads.
For more information on programmatic video see Programmatic Video: A Spectrum of Automation
Examples of Vertical Video Ads
The IAB New Ad Portfolio provides initial guidelines for AR/VR, 360 videos, vertical video, emoji/sticker ads for messaging environments and 360 degree imaging.