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Last year was a roller coaster for digital advertising. We saw digital ad spend top $209 billion globally with digital finally overtaking television spend in the process. Challenges like fraud, brand safety and viewability took center stage as marketers demanded a cleaner supply chain.

Brands worked to increase the amount of transparency and control they had over their digital spending, augmented reality proved that it’s here to stay, and marketers doubled down on video ads — particularly on mobile.

It’s impossible to predict the future, and it’s hard to pinpoint what will dominate our industry next year. Trends come and go, some evolving to the point of full maturity and widespread adoption, but just as many start strong only to quickly fade. As we put 2017 behind us and look ahead to what 2018 will bring, one thing is immediately clear, we live in a mobile world, and advertisers must adapt to this trend.

Change is necessary for long-term success and we’re starting to see that happen with mobile. Marketers are beginning to truly embrace a mobile-first approach to digital advertising — a tactic that isn’t as pervasive as you might think. For example, during the Black Friday shopping period and throughout the fourth quarter, retail brands such as Amazon and Home Depot adapted their apps and campaigns to reach mobile users — a smart move, considering retail purchasing was nearly 40 percent mobile. At the same time, mobile video is enjoying a meteoric rise in popularity, is expected to take over 75 percent of all mobile traffic by 2023, and will be the single largest area of focus for digital marketers this year.

Advertisers have finally seen the light and are beginning to understand just how important mobile is to reach a target audience. But while mobile dominated retail marketing in the fourth quarter, there are three ways marketers can leverage seamless and effective mobile ads in 2018.

The Year Mobile Video Gets Personal

After totaling more than $58 billion in spend last year, mobile video isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s only going to get more important. As advertisers reallocate their spend and better understand its performance, I expect to see in-app mobile video usage not only increase, but also become more personalized based on user behavior. Consequently, brands will be able to truly reach their target audiences with content that is applicable and attractive.

Achieving this involves changing the way advertisers optimize their mobile campaigns — they have to be seamless, and they have to be relevant to the user. Up until recently, most have simply repurposed their desktop ads for mobile without much consideration for the nuances of the medium and the experience that follows. But if the experience lacks due to slow delivery, or content that doesn’t resonate, users will close out of the app entirely. The road to more effective personalization starts with delivery.

Video End Cards Will Help Boost Mobile Engagement

Leading digital marketers are already making use of end cards in their video ads that allow consumers to further engage with the brand after viewing the video ad. This often includes a call-to-action such as “learn more” or “buy now.” While the utilization of end cards in mobile video is important on its own, there’s so much more that can be done to activate customer interest using this tactic.

Results have shown that personalized interactive end cards immediately following 15-second videos drive up to nine times higher engagement than static banner ads. On average, about 15 percent of consumers who watch a video ad will engage with interactive end cards once the video is complete. This places engagement rates with end cards well above typical click-through rates for digital advertising.

In 2017, we saw brands beginning to leverage audience data from their DMPs and their media partners in order to create more personalized end card experiences. This allows brands to move national video advertising messages closer to one-to-one marketing opportunities. These personalized end-cards will contribute to the future of video ads, helping brands activate customer interest in-app and spur them to buy.

Vertical Video Is Looking Up

According to research from the IAB, 90 percent of time spent on a smartphone is in the vertical orientation. As such, vertical video (or horizontal videos that are wrapped to create vertical experiences) is a good format to use in apps where consumers are already used to being served interstitial ads. These ads provide marketers up to four times higher visual impact, and provide a personal television commercial opportunity. However, collectively the industry isn’t quite there yet when it comes to adopting this as a best practice.

Today, marketers primarily run video ads in landscape format. Yet more and more of our favorite apps are becoming vertical-oriented — Snapchat, Twitter and Spotify, to name a few. By not creating mobile video ads that display well in a vertical orientation, advertisers are not only leaving potential revenue on the table, they could inadvertently be causing users to jump out of the app.

I expect that marketers will fully realize this change in 2018 and begin shooting video in vertical format so it can be easily consumed by users who are already showing a preference toward this orientation.

Video Will Eat the World

While we can’t say with absolute certainty what will dominate ad-tech in 2018, mobile video is poised to continue its upward momentum, particularly in-app. A recent study by Ericsson notes that 75 percent of all mobile traffic will be through video by 2023, and almost 80 percent of programmatic ad spend will go mobile by 2019. It’s never been more critical for marketers to take advantage of what has already become a popular, if not preferred, mode of consumption for users.

Unsurprisingly, consumers have already adjusted their habits to account for a more mobile world, and currently spend more than 80 percent of their smartphone time in-app. It’s time for advertisers to dive in deep on mobile as well, and 2018 looks to be the year that this finally materializes.

Anne Frisbie is senior vice president of global brand and programmatic at InMobi.


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