In a media landscape that continues to be transformed by the confluence of technological innovations and consumer behavior shifts, one thing is clear, the general notion of a video consumer is in the midst of a rewrite. Based on a recent IAB study, the “big screen” video experience is changing rapidly as 56% of consumers’ TVs are now IP-connected and as 54% of those viewers are now spending more time watching non-linear content, including digital video. And on the small screen, as the “march towards mobile” continues, there’s exciting growth and advertiser demand (145% YoY increase in mobile video ad spend). It’s no wonder then that publishers and advertisers of all stripes are pivoting towards the use of sight, sound, and motion as powerful means of connecting consumers with brands across platforms. However, with all this growth comes both challenges and opportunities.
Given our vantage point, serving as members of the IAB Digital Video Center of Excellence Committees and Board, we see a wide range of perspectives on how best to navigate this frontier of internet-delivered, on-demand disruption that we call “TV Convergence.” With a goal of providing best practices and advice on “all things video,” the Video Center and its members have developed a Guide to Digital Video Advertising that offers tools, tips, and guidance for publishers, marketers, and brands to understand video in its multiple current and emerging forms. Available as both website and companion PDF document, the guide addresses key topics and themes as outlined below and, given the speed of change in this space, will be updated on a semi-annual basis.
Recognizing that the video advertising industry is perceived through various overlapping frameworks, the guide maps the various content sources and delivery mechanisms in terms of market and audience size and offers insights on which formats are seeing the most growth, what works today, and what’s trending for the future, such as vertical video, 360-degree video, VR (Virtual Reality), and AR (Augmented Reality).
The Video Ad Tech Overview chapter examines and explains in layman’s terms the different technologies and standards– such as VAST (Digital Video Ad Serving Template) and VPAID (Digital Video Player Ad Interface Definition) –used to serve ads. It also offers links to practical checklists for executing and launching campaigns, including how to migrate from outdated Flash formats to standard browser-based HTML5 video.
In The New TV chapter, the key message for “big screen” video advertisers is that you need to be in OTT (Over-The-Top Video) if you’re going to stay visible and relevant with on-demand, cord cutting/cord shaving consumers (see stats below on OTT device penetration and ad delivery by device).
As the chapter on Audience, Data and Measurement points out, back in the “Mad Men” era of advertising, data flowed in a linear and highly front-loaded process that often centered on magnifying a “big idea.” In today’s world, driven increasingly by automation, real-time decisioning and performance, there is now a much more decentralized flow of data that originates in the media platform and goes to various teams in no particular order.
The chapter on Mobile Video highlights the fact that while the “year of mobile” finally arrived in 2016 (when mobile advertising spend surpassed that of desktop), the gap between time spent in mobile and ad spend in mobile is still painfully wide. For advertisers, a key obstacle to increased spend is the lack of a quality mobile video user experience (exacerbated by slow load times). At the same time, publishers know that placing multiple viewability tracking pixels required by advertisers, can bog down the mobile app user experience. To help build trust between buyers and sellers and streamline verification, industry players are working together with IAB to establish an open source viewability SDK. By making available a single tracking SDK, buyers and sellers can see the same metrics while consumers experience fewer slow-loading ads.
With an eye towards a more efficient future marketplace, the guide’s closing chapter focuses on what works today and what needs improvement in areas such as measurement, reporting, and workflow. While video-based media is increasingly being transacted on data and can occur in milliseconds using techniques such as real-time bidding, getting the right creative to serve on the right device is still often a manual process that contradicts the entire premise of technology-driven digital advertising. The guide points to metadata-related efforts like Universal Ad-ID, which is helping streamline workflow and reporting, as well as centralized, cloud-based asset management (illustrated in the diagram below). In today’s world, there are redundancies because files are housed locally on various publisher and agency systems. Simplified workflows, like the one described below, are helping streamline publisher-agency communications, reducing “missing file” errors while providing all players in the ecosystem access with the original asset source.
By offering a one-stop shop of information on digital video advertising in all its complexity, the Guide to Digital Video Advertising reminds us that the path to a higher-quality user experience starts with education, ensuring everyone in the industry understands the landscape, the processes and roles of both buyers and sellers involved in delivering video advertising and content to the consumer. As the old saying goes: “If you want to understand someone’s point of view, try walking a mile in their shoes.” As it turns out, going for that walk is a lot easier with a map in hand.