Ready, set, play – the mobile video revolution

Rubicon Project MD, JAPAC, Rick Mulia
By Rubicon Project MD, JAPAC, Rick Mulia | 28 September 2016
JAPAC managing director, Rick Mulia Rubicon.

Not so long ago, YouTube was synonymous with online video, and vice versa. Not anymore. Growth in video consumption and creation has been both instigated and fed by new platforms, environments and innovations across a wide scope. And the rapid growth in mobile online video viewing is opening up a wealth of new advertising opportunities, which constitutes little short of a mobile advertising revolution.

Two factors are driving this. The first is the rapid and well-documented rise in video consumption online – largely stimulated by the likes of YouTube, Netflix, Snapchat, Facebook Video and live video services like Periscope and Facebook Live. Cisco recently forecast video to account for 80% of global internet traffic by 2019.

The second is that video is now a format that is not restricted to the confines of the home or office. It is omnipresent – we watch it in the car, on the subway train, we show our friends at the bar that video of the news anchor swearing live on air. The increasing proportion of online video is now being viewed by consumers via mobile. Mobile phones and tablets now account for 46% of all video viewing globally, according to a recent report from premium video specialist Ooyala.

Take laptop Video On Demand (VoD) viewing out of the equation and I imagine that number swings to mobile dramatically. And this has already had a knock on effect on how advertisers prioritise expenditure. With video ad spend in Asia Pacific set to reach USD$9 billion, according to the latest Media Partners Asia Report cited on 18th April 2016.

Rapid growth in mobile advertising is being fuelled by better targeting capabilities, more and more innovative video inventory and greater focus on optimising video content for mobile consumption – making it enjoyable without sound, for example and developing video experience innovations such as 360 degree film. And as was discussed by representatives from Rubicon Project, Tapjoy, InMobi and Samba at this week’s Mobile Marketing Association Forum in London, advertisers’ priorities and focus are shifting accordingly.

The first marked shift has been in advertisers’ choice of platform, which has become considered and more diverse.

YouTube still dominates desktop online video consumption – Google sites including YouTube achieved unique desktop video views of 174m compared to closest rival Facebook’s 91m in October 2015.

But only half of YouTube’s audience watches on mobile. This is in stark contrast to other platforms serving video content where the respective figures are significantly higher. 80% of monthly active users accessed Twitter via mobile. For Instagram and Snapchat, meanwhile, the corresponding figure was of course 100%, according to BI Intelligence.

As a result, content creators – and advertisers - are looking beyond desktop to distribute their video content; naturally adapting with consumer behaviour. The number of videos posted by US brands to Facebook grew by 145% between October 2014 and October 2015 while the number posted to Twitter rose by 225%, according to the same study by Socialbakers.

Another shift has been in mobile media innovation – the most celebrated being the vertical ad.

A step change improvement on simply refitting TV ads for mobile screens championed by Snapchat, vertical ads earn 9x the viewing-completion rate of horizontal video, the social platform claims. This year, vertical ads are set to grow rapidly with further innovations such as Vertical Reveal - a vertical video unit for advertisers and publishers just launched by video distribution platform Virool in partnership with Rubicon Project.

The good news for advertisers is that this is making online platforms more competitive.

Facebook, for example, introduced two new video formats in April via its Audience Network, through which it sells mobile ads beyond its own app and website. For the first time Facebook is now extending that network to serve video ads on mobile and desktop browsers, giving marketers the ability to run those ads pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll in video content rather than stand-alone units. This move followed Facebook’s roll-out of a number of video products for advertisers and consumers, including the addition of video to its ad carousel on Instagram.

Meanwhile YouTube, eager not to be left behind, recently rolled out a new six-second ad format designed for quick snippets of content called Bumper in a bid to make its ad proposition more mobile-friendly.

Programmatic is a further emerging theme with latest estimates now suggesting that 54% of worldwide mobile display-related advertising will be traded programmatically by 2018.

Tapjoy - mobile’s personalised monetisation platform and another Rubicon Project partner – just launched Tapjoy Private Exchange enabling brand owners to access its premium in-app, opt-in mobile video inventory programmatically for the first time. Inventory across Tapjoy’s publisher network of 10,000+ top tier mobile apps, with a reach of 520m monthly active mobile users worldwide, is now available on Rubicon Project’s Orders platform.

With so much innovation emerging in the mobile video space, it’s not surprising that marketers’ ad spend is shifting rapidly. In the US, nearly three quarters of marketing and media buying professionals now plan to move funds out of TV to increase their spend on digital video advertising, according to recent figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. And more than two thirds – 68% - believe original digital video will become as important as original TV programming in the next three to five years.

With media owners incorporating video into their main offering, and dedicated mobile platforms now seriously challenging YouTube’s online video crown, the mobile video advertising revolution is well underway.

By Rick Mulia, Managing Director, JAPAC, Rubicon Project

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