Next Mobile Video Advertising Standard Will be a Game Changer

Standards are not known for being a rousing area of industry discussion, but that does not mean they aren’t critical to a functioning ad tech ecosystem.

Each standard’s release adds more oil to video advertising’s engine, ensuring it is running smoothly and firing on all cylinders. The usual incremental adjustments that we have accepted as the norm will take a back seat when a new version of the IAB’s mobile advertising standard gets the go-ahead.

Instead of the baby steps usually seen in standards point releases, the next release of Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definitions (MRAID), a specification that clarifies interoperability between publishers’ mobile apps, ad servers and media platforms, will be more akin to a low-gravity lunar leap. Display advertising’s founding fathers in the nineties would never have dreamed up the type of data that today’s marketers are set to access through MRAID 3.0.

IAB future-proofs MRAID

Although there is no official word from the IAB that the 3.0 release of MRAID is imminent, references about what the ad industry can expect were made in 2.0’s public comment document. Buried in the PDF is copy describing future capabilities of the MRAID API. The IAB would like to see the advertising SDK queried for smartphone features such as an accelerometer, compass and GPS.

Besides the above trio of inputs, Apple’s latest mobile device, the iPhone 6, also boasts a barometer, three-axis gyro, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor and biometric fingerprint sensor. These are only the tip of the iceberg as Japanese semiconductor firm ROHM offers a UV sensor and there is talk of air quality sensors too.

Of course, there will be concerns about privacy. Consumers will need to be educated about the sort of information advertisers can use. There will be no personally identifiable information. All the data recorded by sensors will be used to deliver ads to the right person at the right time. In order to receive subscription-free content and services, a value exchange must occur, and new data sources will be a powerful tool to ensure consumers receive more relevant and engaging ads.

Sensors and the engagement evolution

(image via techradar)

Biometric sensors will present brands with a unique opportunity, thanks to the rise of premium wearables. Temperature and heart rate, for example, can be used to improve the whole advertising experience for consumers. Imagine if you could measure how much an ad increases a viewer’s heart rate!

Ad-blocking software is becoming more pervasive. Eventually, only more engaging and relevant experiences will have any hope of cutting through. The data gained from biometric sensors may be part of the solution.

Allowing video advertisers access to sensory feedback in mobile devices will provide an unprecedented level of information. Some companies are already ahead of the curve, pre-empting any formal standards release. Adtile, for instance, makes use of a smartphone’s various sensors to create an interactive motion experience with ads. It has examples where a user shakes their phone to create a milkshake or receives directions for the nearest coffee shop. While Adtile only offers rich display formats, it does showcase the power of these sensors.

In addition to contextual information such as content categories, brands will be able to deliver dynamic ad creative based on a rich array of data such as a consumer’s movement, altitude, or air pressure. The opportunities are further expanded when a wearable is added to the mix. Imagine an iPhone ad that culls data from an attached Apple Watch on heart rate and recent exercise to deliver video ads around the health category.

In the not too distant future, video advertisers will benefit from the contextual information provided by a burgeoning array of sensors that each new generation of smartphone brings. Different formats, whether that is pre-roll, in-banner, in-stream or in-app interstitial, will deliver so many advertising possibilities, once the communication between mobile sensors and advertising creative is standardized. With all this data, will the inevitable release of MRAID 3 be the first step towards video advertising sentience?