A digital fad or valuable ads?

A digital fad or valuable ads?

Ten-second selfies took the world by storm five years ago, in the form of Snapchat. Millennials flocked to the app like bees to a hive, and now, 166 million users send snaps daily.

Amongst features such as ‘Filters’, ‘Stories’ and ‘Discover’, a new addition arrived last month: the ‘Snap Map’. This enables Snapchatters to see their friends locations and popular local stories all over the globe. As you can imagine, this feature didn’t come without controversy.

But the point is, Snapchat is feeling the pressure to innovate. Although the app’s popularity has had steady growth over the years, one social media platform has been stealing the limelight: Instagram.

Instagram haven’t hidden the fact that they’ve replicated many of Snapchat’s features, such as ‘stories’. They tapped into the care-free approach of Snapchat, allowing quick sharing without leaving a footprint. Originally, Instagram started out by offering users a way of posting well though-out and edited posts. But now, Instagram has both options and as a result, the appeal of the app has skyrocketed.

How can Snapchat win back users?

  • Make it easier for people to find brands on Snapchat

Discovering a brand on Snapchat is difficult because the exact username is needed to add someone. Brands are struggling to see the benefits of using Snapchat and are either changing their tactics or switching to a different platform altogether. If Snapchat is able to change this, it’s likely that many brands would return and the users would follow.

  • Focus on creativity and functionality

Snapchat’s main message at Cannes this year was, “Bigger isn’t better” (Although their huge Ferris Wheel conveyed a slightly different message). They’re clearly aware of their growth levelling out and are putting the focus on the app’s creativity and functionality. This makes sense because, no matter how exciting an app’s features are, the duplication of these concepts will inevitably appear on competing platforms.

If Snapchat can concentrate on keeping their users happy with fun new technology and simple functionality of the app, users are more likely to stay loyal.

  • Involve influencers more

Multiple influencers are finding it harder and harder to get the support they need from SnapchatSallia Goldstein has a large Snapchat following but was recently forced to make the move to Instagram due to technical issues on Android. She told Buzzfeed, “It’s not because I want to move everything over to Instagram. It’s because I have to.”

Also, a Snapchat executive reportedly told another influencerSarah Peretz, “Snapchat is an app for friends, not creators.” when she told them she was leaving the platform.

By limiting their app this way, they’ll lose both influencers and their audiences. Some dedicated support to influencers could change all of that.

  • More monetising options

Publishers prefer Instagram because they present more monetising options. For example, Instagram allows creators to link to external sites. And the increased length of videos have enticed many publishers.

Whereas, at the moment, Snapchat’s ‘Discover’ page is one of the only places to advertise — and the access to this is limited.

Snapchat is in a very powerful position, if they can appeal to advertisers and publishers on a larger scale, it could put them ahead of the game.

Coming back to the Snap Map, this could become a valuable opportunity for brands. It could potentially offer location based mobile advertising, leading to a more targeted reach and increased engagement. This could be the way to surpass the social media war and could provide some healthy competition against the Google/Facebook duopoly in the mobile advertising world.

Changes on the horizon?

Snapchat are on the look out for ad tech companies in an attempt to increase the efficiency of their ads and in turn, appeal to more marketers. There have been acquisition talks with AdRoll, the programmatic advertising platform, but no offers have been taken up yet.

Only time will tell if Snapchat will survive the social platform wars or merely become just another digital fad.

At Coull, we recognise the value of video content on the web and see the importance of keeping fun and exciting content accessible. We provide technology to monetise videos that effectively tell a brand’s message and keep content creators happy. Want to know more about what we do? Talk to one of our team.

Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull comment

The Coull ad request journey – Whatsapp style

An ad request really is like a group discussion with everyone bringing something to the table. Our Invalid Traffic Detection looks pretty straight forward but is actually made up of multiple fraud detection vendors as well as our in-house compliance team. And our QUASAR tech has some amazing layers to it that help us ensure the best inventory and brand match. The right conversation means we get the best possible performance every time.

We hope this helps to clarify the ad request process and get some more conversations going.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment

Apple and Google giveth and the IAB taketh away

Auto play mobile video is evolving but who will have the final say?

Apple and Google want to give adtech companies an alternative way to auto play video ads on the mobile web, one that avoids the use of nasty hacks to enable autoplay functionality. While this sounds like a step forward, the IAB is far more concerned with the user experience and wants to limit autoplay mobile video to Wi-Fi connected devices.

In reality both of these options have the same goal, to reduce the burden on the user’s device. The result – improved user experience. We’re going to dig a little deeper to uncover the merits of each so you can decide which is more valuable.

Let’s talk about mobile auto play video ads

Video ads that auto play in your phone browser use up a lot of data over time. Despite this fairly obvious negative implication, the format is growing in popularity because it can drive 10x the revenue of standard image ads.

Until now, getting a mobile video ad to autoplay has required reliance on a hack,  especially on iOS where a video had to load in the full screen native player. The new iOS & Chrome updates change all that. It’s time to say goodbye to the hacks and the problems associated.

The good, the bad and the ugly

You can look at mobile video auto play on a spectrum of polished, to pathetic.

At one end you have the best example of the ad format in all its glory – on Facebook. Auto playing muted ads are implemented in a controlled environment within the user’s feed.

Technically speaking, there is only one ad call, and because Facebook control the ad unit and ad server it can be lightweight code and compressed video – both easy on the device. The user decide to disable autoplay, or choose to only accept it on Wi-Fi. Despite this choice you will find that no one chooses to limit it because the settings affect all video – not just the ads. It’s in-banner video, but in it’s most considerate format.

On the other end we find the pathetic versions of the format.  Arbitrageurs buy cheap ad slots intended to image ads and load a video player into the user’s browser, then making requests for ads to every ad source they can find. This is incredibly taxing for the phone, running JavaScript that hangs the page, and a never ending sequence loading resources behind the scenes.

If and when an ad is returned, the adtech used by the arbitrager exploits a browser hack via the HTML5 <canvas>, not the <video> as intended. This is slower, and doesn’t provide any playback or volume controls – less than ideal.

Apple with iOS 10, and Google with the latest Chrome update 53 have taken a pragmatic approach. They’ve looked at the data and seen how much this shoehorned method has slowed webpages, especially heavily arbitraged ones like & Wikia.

The updates they’ve implemented go a long way to improving the mobile experience, but have they considered the user enough?



The IAB goes in to bat for the user

The new draft proposal (page 9) for should be shown Ads in 2017 has some big changes for Outstream players like Teads, and also the arbitrageurs mentioned above (pretty much every video ad network).

This guidance addresses video ads in non-video environments. Video guidance applies to in banner videos and ‘outstream’ ads that are placed in between non video content, e.g. in article or in lists or any video ads in non-video content experiences.

1. Video MUST be user initiated.

2. Video controls to Mute/Unmute audio and Pause/Play video MUST be available when video is playing

3. The RECOMMENDED maximum length for in banner video is 15 seconds and 1.1 MB file size

4. MINIMUM 24 fps

5. Video download MUST NOT start until user initiation


Video MAY be played by the ad without user initiation when it does not significantly impact the user’s cost of consuming content. It may be used under the following guidance:

1. When a user is on Wi-Fi or broadband internet connections. This is to respect user’s cost of consuming content.

2. Audio MUST be muted when video is played without user initiation.

3. Auto play MUST begin after ad is at least 50% in view

4. Auto play MUST provide pause/play and mute/unmute controls from the start of video play

Even in draft, it’s a clear message from the industry’s own trade body that more respect should be shown to the user, and to stop pushing them to install ad blockers with obnoxious execution.

Where to now?

Google and Facebook have made a commendable move to provide a much better mobile video auto play experience than would be achieved via a hack, however the IAB’s assertion is that auto play is interruptive, cumbersome and a financial burden to the user as are some other ad formats identified in their latest guidance. You can bet there will be lots more to come from them in the near future and it will be interesting to see how Google and Facebook respond.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment
Digital advertising in Asia is growing, and fast!

Digital advertising in Asia is growing, and fast!

Why should we care about the Asian-Pacific digital advertising market?

According to the latest Strategy Analytics report, this year the Asia-Pacific region (APAC) is likely to overtake North America as the biggest digital advertising market worldwide. Predictions range between an 18%-20% increase in digital ad spending, which would bring its total spend for 2016 up into the region of $70-$80 billion.

This is a staggering figure and one we should not overlook. Perhaps unsurprisingly, China is firmly in the front seat of this regional drive in digital ad spending. This year, 44% of total digital ad spending worldwide will come from the U.S and China alone. But China is not an oddity, with the likes of Japan, Thailand, India and Indonesia, the region boasts half of the world’s top six countries in digital ad spending.

What is unique & desirable about Asia-Pacific digital market?

Mobile-first – The majority of people in APAC interact and engage with the digital world through their smartphones. In China, uniquely, users often even favour apps over mobile web. Understandably, many APAC countries have become critical markets for mobile app and gaming companies. Leading in-app advertising company, Vungle, saw ad revenues soar up 400% in China from 2015.

Efficient broadband – Mature markets such as Singapore have well developed broadband networks, providing a large internet-connected audience. WeAreSocial reported that an impressive 82% of the city-state was connected to the web. The availability and size of audience in many countries in APAC is attractive, and there is plenty of room to grow. Currently, spending per person in APAC is around $15, compared with $165 in the US and $95 in Western Europe.

Untapped technology – The Pokémon Go phenomenon has highlighted the power and potential of location-aware apps and geo-targeting. This week, breaking away from its traditionally risk-averse mould, Japan has become the first country to include in-app brand sponsored locations with McDonald’s Japan.

What are some of the challenges of the Asia-Pacific market?

  • Unique market – Just because it works in the West, doesn’t mean it will work in APAC. Whilst foreign companies can bring a lot of value to the region and act as a bridge between China and the rest of the world, it is essential to tailor tactics to the region. Vungle’s unprecedented success in China is largely due to their commitment to understanding the local market. By hiring Chinese-speaking employees and sending them into the field, they have localized everything from sales, engineering to account management.


  • Latency – The Chinese firewall not only screens and blocks websites, but also slows down almost every international ad call. Moving forward, companies would benefit from investing in localizing their servers.


  • Anti-Fraud & Ad-Blocking– Anti-piracy efforts and standards of viewability abroad are yet to catch up with the U.S. and Western Europe. In addition, many APAC consumers in countries such as China are mobile-savvy and well-aware of the latest ad blocking technology. According to a study by PageFair, 36% of smartphone users in APAC countries have ad blocking technology installed.


To recap, the potential of programmatic video in Asia-Pacific is huge. Foreign companies should not be discouraged by the regional challenges; APAC offers a unique market space that is only just starting to take off.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment

Coull Quickie – May 2016

The Coull Quickie for May is here and it’s not good news for publishers as 3 Mobile UK sets to trial Shine’s ad blocking tech at network level. The IAB US reveals some interesting stats around new viewing habits, AppNexus launches free viewabiltiy measurement for its partners and the Guardian launches their own native mobile ad formats. Get all the latest programmatic video advertising news right here, every month.

Watch the Coull Quickie – May 2016 right here, right now:

Posted by simonholliday in Coull video

PubNative – native mobile advertising

As part of our blog series on mobile advertising and mobile formats we spoke with Ionut Ciobotaru, Co-founder and Managing Director of PubNative, to find out more about this native SSP and how native mobile advertising – specifically video, is evolving.

We know mobile is exploding in regard to advertising, especially video – can you explain what role PubNative plays in mobile advertising and exactly what service you facilitate?

PubNative is a global mobile supply-side platform (SSP) that’s fully focused on native advertising. We work directly with mobile publishers to understand each app’s needs in terms of UX and business objectives, and to provide ad monetisation solutions that enable sustainable revenue growth. Mobile native is a growing market so focusing specifically in this area gives us an actionable specialisation.

We aggregate a considerable quantity of demand in order to create good competition within the PubNative marketplace and maximise the eCPMs that we provide to our publishers. Our business model is based on a revenue share with publishers, where depending on their size, they can receive up to 90% of the revenue generated through our platform.

In terms of video, we’re working on some native and in-feed video ad placements. This is a really interesting area and it’s something we’ve worked hard on to understand and document the native video market on mobile. It’s changing pretty fast but definitely offers an exciting future.

Tell us about the ‘native’ side of the business and how you differentiate native mobile from other mobile ads?

At PubNative, we see native advertising as a framework. Adverts should fit the form of the context (i.e. the UX), but also the content (i.e. the content that is currently being displayed or read by the user). Through this combination, native ads should actually enhance rather than disrupt the experience of users.

To provide a little more detail on this, let me explain these two points further. Firstly, in terms of UX, as the ad has to fit the app and not look out of place within it. Inherent in this means not disrupting the experience of those using the app. If we look at a platform like Instagram, the native ads fit seamlessly into the app feed and therefore don’t interrupt users when scrolling.

In terms of context, it is about delivering relevant advertisements according to the profile of the user. To take the example of Instagram again, they use information about a user – for example, an early 20s woman from San Francisco who follows a lot of fashion accounts. With this information, they are able to use adverts that fit the context of that user’s Instagram feed, for example with adverts for related fashion products on ecommerce sites.

How do you best work ads around UX for gaming apps?

This is actually something I covered relatively recently in our blog, looking at several examples of in-game advertising. Overall the issue is about following the principles of fitting the advert to the content and context of the games. In real terms this means a consideration of the way a game is built, amongst others.

For example, users are likely to be more receptive to downloading a similar game at the stage in which they have just completed a level rather than halfway through. By considering factors like this, we can boost UX and improve installs.

What is the biggest challenge for mobile advertisers at the moment?

One of the biggest challenges is educating mobile advertisers, especially the brand advertisers. Since mobile native is still in its relative infancy, it’s really important to spread the word to advertisers and publishers. Because many marketers are inherently conservative and like to stick to what they know, this is about showcasing why native is the option for the future and illustrating its qualities in comparison to more traditional formats like banners and interstitials.

To what extent do you think mobile publishers are being affected by ad blocking? How do you approach this problem?

I would say that mobile is being marginally affected by ad-blocking. There are two cases to consider: Mobile in-app – which can’t be blocked so easily – so impact is minimal, and mobile web – where all the ad-blockers can function – but despite the buzz of its initial launch, its impact is limited. On top of that, Google recently removed Samsung’s ad-blocking tool from the store, showing the influence of major players in the market.

With movements like the Acceptable Ads Manifesto, the industry is evolving in a way that both advertisers and users can live happily ever after. For those of us working in the native sector, this is about making sure our adverts work with the form and the function as well as providing superior value and relevance to the viewer.

With this kind of combination, we should increasingly see adverts deliver the requisite value to the user and in turn, remove factors such as irritation and intrusion that so frequently cause the use of ad blocking software in the first place.

You have global offices, what is the scale of PubNative and are you seeing any particular trends based on geography?

Our HQ is based in Berlin and we also have offices in San Francisco, Beijing and Seoul to serve all of our major markets (EMEA, APAC, NA). We’re expanding fast and Berlin gives us the ideal location of working between the two time zones.

APAC is one of the fastest growing markets for us. Smartphone penetration is particularly high there and some of the emerging markets are mobile first or even mobile only – in terms of consumer adoption of technology. Still because of its maturity – US remains the highest revenue generating market.

In-app and mobile web are significantly different when it comes to ad serving – do you service both mobile formats or do you deal purely with apps?

Most of our clients are mobile app publishers but we also work with mobile web publishers. With so much search being conducted through mobile web, it is still a significant source of traffic for advertisers.

Mobile web can be seen as falling somewhere between desktop and mobile app. Whilst it often employs resized ad formats used on desktop, it has to be optimised for the smaller screen and provide good UX.

If you work with both is there a particular advantage one has over the other?

It really depends on the user base of mobile web and apps. At the moment I would say that there are more native formats for in-app native rather than native ads on the mobile web.

Regarding the mobile web – because it is an application of the desktop environment to mobile, this means that the content is being consumed in similar ways – i.e. through news websites, blogs, portals, etc. This means that native on mobile web is a direct replica of native on desktop, so underpinned by the six formats laid out in the IAB Native Advertising Playbook.

Another factor is simply mobile optimization. Whilst there remain companies who fail to adequately optimize their sites for mobile, ads on these sites are unlikely to provide good UX or ROI for advertisers.

Mobile apps, on the other hand, have specific functionalities, such as games, utility, entertainment, etc., and the UX is very particular to each function or app. In turn, this means that in-app native advertising has to be much more flexible in terms of format.

Do you encounter many issues with transparency and how do you tackle viewability, brand safety and fraud issues within mobile?

Ad tech is a fast-moving space that has evolved incredibly quickly. In an industry that moves so fast, it can be difficult to ensure that everyone follows best practices and plays by the rules that can often lag behind the market.

The issue of fraud, in particular, has certainly been a topic of conversation lately. In fact there are a number of different fraudulent activities that have taken place, one of which is the issue of click spamming. We need to come together as an industry to ensure that we legislate and advise to reduce the frequency and impact of issues like ad fraud.

As well as fraud, there a number of other issues that affect the industry. In terms of viewability, the MRC has actually just released a paper on the viewability of native ads, so this part is already happening. Increasing transparency on both the publisher and advertiser side would also go a long way to helping issues like fraud.

What is your mobile advertising prediction for 2016 – is this finally the year of mobile – at least when it comes to advertising?

As the mobile native advertising ecosystem continues to evolve at a rapid pace, 2016 is going to see advancements in technology in order to support an increasing demand for control and transparency from all players in this industry.

While mobile advertisers are requesting more guarantees over the execution of their native programmatic campaigns (viewability, fraud), mobile publishers are rightfully demanding more transparency in pricing.

In this context, we should inevitably see the emergence of independent, third-party technology solutions – unified platforms – that aggregate all mobile native demand, enabling publishers to price their inventory at the correct market value and maximize their revenue while facilitating enhanced transparency for advertisers.

About the author:

Ionut Ciobotaru (Co-founder & Managing Director of PubNative) started his career with a web development company and several technology related blogs. After years of entrepreneurial work in fields like eCommerce, digital marketing and collaborating with brands like Orange, Vodafone, HTC, Microsoft, Ionut sought a new challenge in the mobile space. He joined AppLift where he successfully developed company’s product suite for publishers and media partners. In order to fully focus on improving solutions for mobile publishers he founded PubNative, a mobile publisher platform fully focused on native advertising.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment

The Mobile Series – Coull are interviewed by PubNative

To kick-start our series on mobile video advertising, we were interviewed by native mobile advertising SSP PubNative. Michelle talks about the current mobile landscape, its opportunities, the issues it currently faces and discusses where the Coull platform fits in to the future of mobile video advertising. In our follow up, you’ll learn all about native mobile advertising from PubNative themselves.

Thanks to the team at PubNative for this story.










Following Native Insights #4 in which we spoke to digital marketers Cyberclick, this time we are tackling the video ad space with Michelle Bommer from Coull.

The British company are a video ad platform for advertisers and media companies. For more info on video, you can also read our guide on what you need to know about native video on mobile.

Can you introduce Coull and what you do?

We are a young, talented team building the next generation video advertising platform. We work with publishers to classify, filter and monetize their video inventory, by providing a direct route to the platforms used by advertisers who want that inventory for their ad campaigns.

We have some awesome, unique propositions such as our exclusive in-video overlay ad format which is really powerful, especially when combined with our pre-roll, giving advertisers the opportunity for deeper engagement, brand uplift and audience data.

The really exciting thing about Coull right now is that we are cleaning up the programmatic marketplace, to make it transparent which means a safer, more efficient, reliable and profitable digital ecosystem. We’re building a sustainable digital exchange from within our own technology stack.

We’re redefining what ‘quality’ inventory is because for our partners, quality means being able to buy video inventory that’s brand safe, viewable and human. We enable this and provide RTB feedback and have a dedicated team to optimize campaigns.

How much of a difference is there between desktop and mobile video advertising?

There is a big difference between the way audiences interact with video content depending on device. Metrics like CTR don’t work the same way on desktop and mobile, and audience behaviour across those interfaces is very different. For example, a view through rate would be more suitable for a mobile or in-app video ad campaign because the video takes up most of if not all of the screen, however on desktop the video may only take up a portion of the screen and the viewer may have multiple tabs open, competing for their attention.

The big difference we’re seeing right now is that mobile is today where desktop was 1 or 2 years ago. Programmatically it’s exploding, but in terms of measurement optimization, the industry is not there yet. There is a lot of work to be done, but the potential for massive growth is undeniable. In terms of mobile’s capacity in programmatic – 2016 is the year of mobile!

To read the full interview click here.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull news

Tis the Season to be Programmatic

Digital media and advertising technology companies have had a turbulent year. Advertising budgets started to swing away from traditional channels and methods but haven’t swung nearly as much as we would have hoped because of a lack of trust in programmatic.

We saw very specific issues rise to the top of the programmatic cons pile in 2015 but the good news is these are all problems that can be addressed and possibly even put to rest in 2016 – largely thanks to the work that has been done behind the scenes by tech companies.

We must however, learn from the problems we’ve faced this year if we’re to avoid the havoc and scrutiny we’ve experienced in 2015 repeating.

Stop adapting and start innovating

In this fairly nascent industry of programmatic video, many companies have attempted to cash in while cutting corners, augmenting legacy products with small fix tech, rather than building a sustainable, foolproof technology from the ground up. You just need to take a glance at one of the many digital ‘lumascapes’ to see how crowded the industry is with a multitude of different companies. But can you identify where the unique point of difference is? It’s tricky for anyone to navigiate the maze of choice, let alone settle on the right partner.

Media is consumed very differently today, data is passed over and collected in milliseconds, people communicate, entertain and learn from all kinds of new sources, many of which are not ‘safe’ passages. Expecting a seamless experience for all, with no interference, with noone trying to take advantage, is pretty ludicrous. But in a world where everyone wants to be everything to all, there is a need for specialists who are concerned with identifying and building responses to digital advertising pitfalls. It’s these specialists who will facilitate improved performance and revenues in 2016, so don’t count them out.

In April 2015 the IAB with Advertiser Perceptions, reported 68% of marketers and agencies anticipated increasing their digital video ad spend over the next 12 months.

As marketers and agencies seek long term ROI, the trajectory toward programmatic video is accelerating. The perceived lack of premium video inventory called out by some in 2015, will become a relic mentality next year. The Definition of premium inventory has changed irrevocably and has surfaced to contain the same principle issues that caused such a raucous in programmatic – the very things video ad tech companies like Coull, are working hard to negate right now.

  • Is it viewable?

  • Is it brand safe?

  • Is it human?

We can break these areas down further into segments that give a better overview of the level of quality of the inventory. This comes down to how much we know about the inventory and where it comes from, something that is often limited by how much the publisher is willing to give away about their own data.

  • Player size

  • True url (where does the inventory originally come from)

  • Device

  • Geography

  • Relevance

It’s no secret programmatic video has endured a year of inefficiency, however according to emarketer ‘ad spend in programmatic video specifically is set to jump 84.5% in 2016, due to a resolution of holdbacks’.  Proprietary tech such as that built to drive Coull’s new generation video ad exchange, is stepping up to address and implement solutions to these holdbacks. Because we’ve built a new breed of ad exchange, we have rigorous standards specific to programmatic advertising and the expectation of quality inventory and premium CPMs.

New, quality inventory on demand

With subscription based video on demand now such a huge part of our entertainment lives, services such as Netflix, Now.TV and BBC iPlayer are competing for your dollars every month. There’s only so much appetising content audiences will be prepared to pay for. There is therefore a huge opportunity, especially in geographies like America where the competition for subscription dollars is rife, to implement advertising based services or AVOD (Advertiser based video on demand). As this happens, those ad dollars we’ve seen start to move from traditional broadcast, will quickly move to video and programmatic will become very important.

As more VOD services become available, it goes without saying that video will be increasingly consumed on mobile devices, and there is massive scope for improvement in mobile video advertising, but it’s opportunity that needs to be realized quickly yet methodically.

Mobile video must be optimized

Mobile video is still not being optimized to full effect, but in 2016 we will see solutions emerge to provide better advertisement creative and more user control. This will not, NOT be another bullshit ‘year of mobile’. It will be a year of programmatic ad tech, being given the investment it needs across platforms to transform mobile advertising. It will see mobile video, not just in-app video be used to grab advertising budgets, but obviously, networks have their work cut out before any real improvements can be seen. For mobile advertising to succeed video publishers and platforms/players need to allocate budget and investment to upgrade and implement the development work needed to make video compliant and of consistent standard industry wide. And it needs agencies with creative gusto, willing to drive better ad formats and better stories, if they can’t do this, ad blockers will prevail as customers say no to bad experiences.

For any of this to happen, industry bodies need to step up and ensure video inventory is held to higher standards including or VPAID compliancy and that video players are up to spec. It’s time publishers ensured the video partner or player being used has to ability to integrate with tech partners to ensure standards and metrics can be met. This is really the only way we’re going to start seeing consistency in reporting and in expectations and it’s the only way to ensure viewers get the best experience possible. But doing this does demand time and money from publishers, so the incentive needs to be worth it.

‘Love plant a garden’ – but then ‘they’ put up walls, and the love died

Walled gardens amassed in 2015 but not without publishers taking notice and becoming much more self aware. In order to go around these walls, publishers began using header bidding and in doing so, gained back control from Google DFP.  As Google and Facebook work to keep content and data inside their own bubble, it’s up to publishers and advertisers to think about the value exchange their getting, and the brand ownership they wish to maintain.

It’s also up to independent companies with alternative ad exchange and technology platforms to provide better options for media companies to release their inventory, and also where advertisers can get the most for their money, and the best engagement from their customers.

With ad blocking, viewability, fraud, data security and bots all front in centre in 2015, better ad experiences, mobile video, programmatic video and better measurement standards will hopefully be the identifiers we speak about as growth stimulators and industry saviours in 2016.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment

Losing half the mobile browsing market to Ad Blockers is a good thing

Over half of the mobile browsing market (52%) will be at the mercy of ad blocking technology following the launch of Apple’s iOS 9 on Wednesday, 16th September. Ad blockers have been available to Android users for a number of years but only recently available on iOS through jailbreaking. By making ad blockers downloadable from the App Store, Apple aims to improve the browsing experience for its users and attenuate the drain on battery life and data used when ads are loaded in browser. While this may address headaches for iPhone users, what does this mean for the advertising industry, especially those who rely on ads to provide a free service?

Why are ad blockers bad for digital advertising?

Ad blocking is impeding revenues of any site using ads to monetize content. Worst affected are those with revenue models relying solely on advertising. These are often smaller publishers that don’t always have the means to adopt new forms of monetization. So should more established web presences with multiple sources of revenue feel less of an effect? Not necessarily. Despite a whitelisting policy that is presented around ad quality, claims that ad blocking is little better than an extortion racket are widespread, as big players like Google pay ad blocking companies for their ads to be let through.

Apple tech releases receive colossal amounts of media coverage, potentially generating masses of exposure for ad blocking technology. Ad blocker usage may escalate as a result, not just on mobile, but across a multitude of devices and operating systems. It will increase the percentage of digital content exposed to ad blocker by allowing it to be used on iOS mobile-web, which accounts for 14% of total web traffic.

Why are ad blockers good for digital advertising?

The reaction to the iOS 9 updates and ad blocking in general signifies a transition in digital advertising. The industry is starting to wise up to invasive, extraneous ads and recognize the need for a better online experience. The question that needs to be addressed is: why do people choose to use ad block in the first place?

“The industry needs to do better at producing ads that are less annoying and that are quicker to load, I think we need to do a better job of that as an industry.” Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page

When a problem presents itself, so does opportunity, and startups are innovating to tackle the web’s ad block problems. The Crystal iOS extension allows users to curate their own whitelists by hand-picking which, if any, banners, blocks, popovers and auto-play video they want to see during their browsing experience. Opportunity is also growing for app monetization. Unaffected by most ad blockers, in-app CPMs are likely to rise and more premium in-app inventory will enter the marketplace.

Apple’s advertising model will profit

This is where Apple’s iAds and other providers of in-app advertising will profit. As ad blocking prevents ad requests from being sent, the increase in mobile ad blocker users is relative to the decrease in total mobile-web inventory available to advertisers. A decrease in available mobile-web inventory will drive up the value of in-app inventory for brands and encourage publishers to migrate content to app platforms for higher CPMs.

Short term, the growing popularity of ad blocking is not good for digital advertising revenues. Long term, this could be the catalyst the ad industry needs to rethink current digital formats, improve measurability and design creative with user experience in mind.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment

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 standardised. With all this data, will the inevitable release of MRAID 3 be the first step towards video advertising sentience?

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment