Mobile Video Difficult To Crack, But Offers Huge Potential

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jeremysteinbergThe Sell-Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Jeremy Steinberg, senior vice president of digital ad sales for The Weather Company.

I think everyone would agree that two of the biggest growth areas of digital advertising are mobile and video. Content consumption on mobile devices is skyrocketing, and I am seeing firsthand how marketers and agencies alike are grappling with how to invest in and message to the modern consumer.

At the same time, online video usage is growing by leaps and bounds, causing TV budgets to shift. As a result, it shouldn’t seem like a stretch that these two sectors combine to represent the fastest-growing area of digital advertising.

Mobile video is going to be huge in the near term. I have no doubt about it. But – and that is a big "but" – there are challenges that need to be overcome. The opportunity is still nascent because there is lack of consistency in ad products and content offerings across the mobile ecosystem.

But the IAB has laid the foundation for change with its recently announced Mobile Video Buyers Guide. And advances by Google with its Preferred Platform, Twitter’s Amplify program and Facebook’s Video Ads platform will help make it easier for marketers to run video ads on mobile.

Mobile video is by far the most complicated medium to unlock value for marketers right now. The good news though is that the train has left the station and explosive consumer usage will drive quick change. We just need to focus on several fronts to keep up.

Scaled Storytelling

If you do not build it, the game will change. Quality content needs to be scaled quickly or marketers will shift their focus to platforms and targeting options that offer the desired reach. This is especially the case when there are still many other issues that are impeding the growth of the sector. Given the huge surge in mobile video consumption, I recommend you surface more video to the forefront of your mobile experience. It will enhance your user experience and your video views are sure to continue growing.

Creative

This is still a major impediment to growth. Sometimes it is the simplest problem that causes the biggest issue. Inherently we all know that watching a 30-second commercial preceding a quality piece of video content on mobile is a bad user experience. Yet we do not have enough marketers producing dedicated creative for the medium. Vine and Twitter’s Amplify have been very helpful in pushing the boundaries of creative messaging. But other options like skippable formats and incentive-driven viewing foster the lack of innovation. We as an industry need to be careful not to enable this and focus on helping marketing partners invest in producing for the medium.

Measurement

I have spoken about this before but I am going to keep talking about it. We need a standard set of metrics for measurement of performance. If the marketplace is divided, marketers will choose one or two platforms that are the easiest to activate against. It is not for me to say that the IAB Buyer’s Guide is the only approach, but at least it has put a stake in the ground. Nielsen and comScore have also made great strides with online campaign ratings and validated campaign essentials, respectively. So let’s rally around some basic and easy-to-execute standards that will make it easy on our marketing partners.

Transparency

All games require rules. The mobile video game is not the lone exception. Right now there is lack of transparency for how marketers buy video ads on mobile devices. I realize this is counterintuitive, as digital advertising has been built on variety. But right now we need to focus on similarity. If marketers are misinformed about their ads being run skippable, auto-played or incentive-enabled, they will avoid the medium. We need some standards to encourage trust of the medium as a viable marketing platform.

Cross-Screen Targeting

Consumers move seamlessly between screens and so should video ads. If you haven’t already, consider building a video product that allows easy distribution of video campaigns based on user consumption between mediums. Everyone needs a solution like this. The days of breaking out line-item delivery are over.

Follow Jeremy Steinberg (@jeremysteinberg) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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