Have you watched a mobile video today? Chances are the answer to that question is yes. 58% of mobile users watch short videos daily or more frequently on their smartphone, and 40% of users in the UK are now watching more video than last year, according to the IAB. As mobile use continues its growth, this proliferation means a shift in advertising spend for brands. A recent report from Strategy Analytics predicts that half of all UK ad spend will be spent on digital for the first time this year, more than double that of TV.

eMarketer predicts there will be 77 million millennial digital video viewers in 2015, so it’s no surprise that mobile video means different things to different people. The common thread is that mobile video ads are not created equal. Different formats work better in different circumstances. Read on to get an overview of what formats are out there and our honest assessment of each type.

Top of the list: in-stream video ads

As the name suggests, in-stream video ads are premium video ad content which appear directly before video clips or as part of a break within an app. The content in these ads can be long or short form and are ideal for brands who want to align with an engaging experience in a safe environment. While the ads are high quality, inventory is still relatively low because of content rights management, so CPM is higher. Depending on aims and on budget, an in-stream video ad still might be the best pick for a mobile advertising campaign as they often achieve completion rates of 90 per cent or more.

Middle ground: interstitial video ads

In between game levels, at app launch or in transitional screens within apps, interstitial video apps are served to users for around 15 seconds. The format is flexible and is available in skippable and forced view styles. Advertisers can choose which format suits them based on their own KPIs on video completion. There’s no denying that a user’s experience with interstitial ads isn’t as high quality as in-stream, however it still offers a quality, immersive experience when done with the right mobile partners.

Interstitial ads are great for flexibility. Publishers can serve them without video content or within a wider range of apps. With a greater reach and lower CPM than in-stream, interstitial is more economically viable for brands seeking to raise awareness. However, brands need to ensure that the user experience isn’t lessened because of the ad placement, or the campaign will lose effectiveness.

Best for the budget: in-banner/native video ads

The most cost-effective solution for advertisers are in-banner or native video ads, which are placed in a display, native, or pop-up ad experience, often as a user scrolls down. Although they can be considered less premium for only filling part of the mobile screen, the inventory is becoming more and more popular in mobile web environments.

Many companies are growing in this space and are helping publishers create video value in their mobile environments. The main benefits here are the quantity available and ability to target users programmatically in a cost effective way. The down side is the video quality tends to be poorer and the ads, if not integrated appropriately, can be intrusive in some circumstances or hardly noticeably in the others.

Settling the differences

Despite the benefits and disadvantages of each format, the industry often categorises the formats collectively as mobile video. Advertisers may think they are buying one thing, but are getting another. Conversely, publishers with higher value mobile video inventory are having to sell their ad space at similar prices to less premium inventory since it can be hard to distinguish the difference.

Our advice to advertisers is to make sure you know what kind of mobile video you are getting so that it aligns with your campaign goals. Our advice to publishers is to place the appropriate type of video ad within your content and make sure you are working with trusted partners.


By Mark Murrin, Director, Business and Publisher Development, Mobile at RhythmOne. 

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