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Full-screen mobile video is viewability by design

Adopting a full-screen approach to mobile advertising addresses many (but not all) of the viewability issues facing the mobile advertising ecosystem.

For starters, full-screen ad placements take up the entire screen of a mobile device, so that removes the challenges around placement and scrolling – the ad will always be visible to consumers. Next, the banner as we know it, is fading away and being replaced by other ad formats, such as video and native as the new dominant ad units of the future. Agencies and brands 'get' video as a format and many have successfully built up their brands on TV over the past decades – in other words, brands understand how to make great videos that work and how to measure them. Native, although a relatively new format for mobile, has been around in print and other media for some time, again, brands 'get' native advertising. Finally, as consumers, we’ve all grown up watching endless hours of TV commercials that are full-screen and one hundred per cent viewable – now we are extending that concept across to mobile – one that advertisers and agencies can easily wrap their heads around.

What’s becoming evident via the current market shift towards more engaging, interactive and larger ad formats (such as full-screen ads), is that consumers are getting a much better user experience. For advertisers, it gives them what they need in terms of higher engagement rates and the potential to impact brand metrics, and developers benefit from higher CPMs and ad quality – as brand spend opens up with newer ad formats.

Regarding viewability, the digital advertising ecosystem is still debating standards for online (yet alone mobile) and there’s general consensus that the Media Rating Council and the IAB standards do not go far enough, but nonetheless, a step in the right direction. The industry (agencies, ad tech players and publishers) are getting behind and working towards updating existing models with a view to publishing a new paper in 2016.

For now, the industry remains focused on solving the challenges with viewability online first, but what’s clear, is that mobile is emerging with less viewability problems than desktop. In what’s rapidly becoming a mobile-first society, dominated by applications, common issues on desktop like 'below-the-fold' are removed by full-screen ads.

That said, mobile advertising platforms that support payment and reporting by impressions served as well as full-screen ad formats (video, rich media and interstitial), go as far as possible in providing a solution now for advertisers that addresses the big elephant in the room – viewability.

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Viewability is like Above-the-fold

Stephen Upstone, CEO and co-founder of LoopMeThe next time you walk past a news stand, take a quick look at the front covers of the newspapers. Chances are, you'll see at least one ad, alongside the masthead and headline. This is because the publication really wants you to see the ad, probably because the advertiser paid the most to be seen. To do this, the publisher has made the ad as visible as possible by putting it 'above the fold', so that even when the publication is folded, the ad is still visible.

We do something very similar with mobile advertising, although we give it the wider term of 'viewability'. We've covered this on the blog before, as well as written about it on The Drum, but every time we revisit it we come up with a new analogy.

This time, the analogy is with being 'above the fold'. It's quite easy to be above the fold in 'traditional' print media, because the formats are very similar. Outside of tabloid, broadsheet, magazine and the occasional in-between formats such as the Berliner, there is very little variation. Simply print the ad at the top, and you know it'll be above the fold.

But digital is different. Even before mobile came along there were considerable variations in screen size, display resolution and aspect ratio. Today, mobile has fragmented the landscape, with everything from the smallest mobile phone through to the largest tablet, with many operating systems and variants therein.

However, mobile has some innate advantages regarding viewability. First and foremost, these are around the fact that mobile apps, as well as being the most popular means of using mobile devices, are also purposely designed for mobile. If the publisher really wants to monetise using ads, then it behoves the publisher to ensure the app is designed so the ads are always visible.

There are also ad formats that work best on mobile, and which also negate the viewability issue. Key among these are full-screen ads, which by definition are viewable, and which can work especially well in certain scenarios such as games. Native ads are also great for getting around the viewability issue, because they are expressly designed to work within the interface. In other words: we know where the fold is again.

Our CEO and co-founder, Stephen Upstone, has been spreading the word about mobile viewability, not just in The Drum but Fourth Source too. So, take a look at those great publications to see what he really thinks...

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Viewability: the mobile video advertising advantage

StephenAs advertisers and agencies start to understand the value of mobile advertising, they're asking much more subtle, probing questions.

They're no longer concerned with how to port banner ads across to mobile (and the industry as a whole has moved way, way beyond that). They are, quite rightly, asking about whether their ads are actually being displayed - that is, with at least 50% of the pixels visible on the screen for one second.

This is known as viewability, and it's a hot topic right now. It boils down to whether impressions that chip away at the campaign budget stand a chance of affecting the audience. If they're visible on the screen, then yes, they stand that chance, of creating awareness or engagement or conversion, or any of the great things mobile advertising can do. But if not, they cannot.

This can happen for several reasons. The most common is that a page can be very long, particularly if it's a news site or app, with an ad slot that is 'below the fold', that is, part of the page but not shown on the screen. Scroll down and you might see it, but it's hardly ideal placement. And yet, it might be charged as an impression. Viewable impressions vs non-viewable: it's an important distinction.

So Google caused quite a stir earlier in the year when it  published its research into viewability and then built viewability options into its dashboards. However, look a bit more closely and you'll see that Google's research didn't include mobile apps. It actually states that  “The data used in this study are based on display ads in browsers (desktop and mobile) and does not include mobile in-app or video apps.”

Mobile has certain characteristics that make mobile ads inherently more viewable, and the Media Research Council agrees in the PDF of its viewable ad impression guidelines. These are to do with the way apps are designed, as opposed to mobile sites, the flow of app user journeys in certain specific sectors such as gaming, and the formats that mobile can support, such as full-screen, video and native.

And, all told, we also think this makes mobile impressions more valuable than desktop.

Intrigued? Our CEO and co-founder, Stephen Upstone, takes up this story on The Drum, so jump across to read how mobile video ads are more viewable and more valuable...