"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Stephen Upstone, CEO at LoopMe.
Big, dominant Internet and app players are investing heavily in mobile native video advertising. Facebook, for example, could sell $700 million worth of autoplay native video ads in 2015, while Twitter is testing its own autoplay video features for iOS users.
They clearly see huge potential in reaching the so-called “light TV viewers,” who spend less than two hours per day watching TV, or info-snackers, who lose interest during the commercial breaks and turn to their mobile devices.
But there’s also plenty of hype. In the Gartner hype cycle for digital marketing in 2014, native advertising sits at the peak of inflated expectations, ready to plummet into the trough of disillusionment and likely take mobile native video advertising with it.
Before native mobile video advertising can live up to the hype, it must overcome several key challenges related to technology, skills and resources.
Make It Work
There is a big technical challenge for the open mobile ad tech ecosystem to integrate these formats.
Ad exchanges must make sure that every publisher is set up correctly for mobile native video. This publisher count could run into the hundreds of thousands, making integration at best onerous – or, at worst, impracticable. Likewise, demand-side platforms need to test with publishers and ad exchanges to make sure that all videos run correctly. It’s a big ask of any integration team.
The trailblazers such as Facebook and Twitter do not have these problems because they are closed systems, able to manage this deployment in a central, coordinated manner.
Standards would help. The IAB’s OpenRTB standard enabled programmatic to scale, with everyone following a common approach, which made integration simple and straightforward. The same happened when rich media guidelines were released. Integrations were made much easier and more comprehensible to all players.
So there’s a call here for the IAB to develop standards for mobile native video. Until this happens, players in the open ecosystem will incur risk through costly bespoke solutions, which cannot be reused or scaled effectively. This is very like the early days of mobile advertising.
Make It Sell
Creatively, there are also challenges around the skills required to build video that works for the smaller screens.
Porting content is rarely as simple as just shrinking a larger format, something the industry found out the hard way with banner ads. Mobile ads require dedicated treatment, taking into account what mobile can uniquely deliver in terms of geotargeting and a tactile, interactive interface. Mobile video requires even more thought, and native mobile video takes this to another level with the need to dovetail neatly into the mobile interface where it will be displayed.
The industry is still learning how to adapt video from the larger screen to the smaller native slot in the most lean, efficient and effective way. Some brands are achieving astonishing results but there’s still plenty to be done in terms of replicating this success consistently through best practice. When all the video formats are unified – native, full-screen, HTML5 and pre-roll, working across the mobile web and in-app – we can say we’re there.
Make It Happen
All of these challenges require resources: investment, infrastructure and people. The big Internet players have these in abundance, while smaller players do not. Their challenges may involve the capital to invest in developing mobile native video capability or they may not be able to attract the creative and technical expertise to make this happen.
What they can do is focus on doing one thing and doing it really well. If they want to own native mobile video advertising, they can plug into as many native mobile video-enabled supply sources as possible, offering the greatest reach. They can be innovative with meaningful, sophisticated metrics, such as cost per view, that translate directly into brand engagement. This sophistication can extend to their pricing policies, ensuring that they deliver against the client’s goals. And they can market all of this activity with a clear proposition. If they can do this, big deals are there to be won.