Android And IOS Rule Changes Could Spur New Inventory For Mobile Video Ads

treytitoneOn TV And Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in programmatic TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Trey Titone, head of product at Beachfront Media.

Restrictions for autoplay and inline video have been lifted with the release of iOS 10 and Chrome 53 for Android.

These moves open up a huge opportunity for mobile web video that could free publishers from overdependence on distribution platforms that they cannot control.

The new mobile web video rules could help publishers create new unique inventory. They also may be a boon for ad tech companies now locked out of the walled gardens that dominate mobile apps.

New Rules

Videos will be able to play inline, outside of a phone’s native player, without direct user interaction. Before Apple and Google’s latest updates, inline video was forbidden on smartphones. This meant that any video playback had to occur inside the full-screen native players rather than embedded within the browsers.

This means video can now autoplay directly on the page without user interaction. The only caveat is that video must either contain no sound or have the sound muted before playback begins. Sound can then be activated with a user interaction.

Market Impact

These changes will enable publishers to create their own video experiences on mobile web similar to what have previously been possible mostly in the tightly controlled confines of major platforms like Facebook.

Autoplaying Facebook-style “in-feed” units are now feasible on mobile web. Publishers will also now be able to emulate Snapchat-like interaction experiences since videos themselves can now act as mobile web interaction objects.

Facebook and Snapchat are setting the status quo for these types of video ads. Their ongoing experimentation with video advertising has exposed advertisers to the potential benefits of inline autoplay and vertical video. Now, publishers can apply those approaches to new mobile-specific video formats that they actually control.

Advertisers who have already dipped their toes into Facebook and Snapchat video ads may soon see a rise in similar inventory on mobile web. Short creatives created for Facebook or vertical videos created for Snapchat can now be repurposed for mobile web.

Consumers stand to benefit from a much richer and lean content experience on mobile web. Before the latest video restrictions were lifted, advertisers and content creators could only emulate autoplay video with heavy animated GIFs. Lighter video files will mean faster load times and new creative opportunities for publishers.

As the market responds to new operating rules, I expect several trends to materialize. For example, there will be a land grab by ad tech vendors trying to create unique video inventory for publishers.

Vendors will be hawking new unique units designed to create mobile web video inventory. This will lead to a sharp rise in mobile web video supply. Since video will be able to autoplay, all page loads could potentially turn into video ad requests.

VPAID JavaScript may also actually catch on. Despite security concerns and other persistent issues, Flash video ads refuse to die. Desktop video advertising still has plenty of Flash usage even after last year’s anticlimactic Flashpocalypse.

If new mobile web rules do usher in new web advertising, expect to see demand partners push for VPAID JavaScript. This will allow them to track performance on mobile web through verification partners such as MOAT, White Ops, IAS and Double Verify.

Autoplay and inline video open many opportunities for publishers and their ad tech partners, all of which should watch the space carefully to see where their companies can take advantage. Entirely new playing fields seldom come available in digital media.

Follow Beachfront Media (@beachfrontmedia) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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