Mobile Video Ads: Before You Make Your Move, Know Your Strategy
Mobile Video Ads: Before you make your move, know your strategy
November 15, 2018
Massive growth in mobile video ads has created a kind of gold rush fever as marketers race to make sure their campaigns are a main attraction, not a side-show, and publishers work hard to monetize their apps, without losing audience. For sure there is money to be made — according to IAB, mobile video ads revenue reached $4.2 billion in HY 2018, a 60.5% rise from HY 2017. But there is also work to be done before you kick your mobile video ads efforts up a notch.
The good news? Users are receptive to video. They see mobile video ads an expected piece of the mobile experience and, if done right, even as an enhancement to their gameplay and time in-app.
The not-so-good-news? Just flipping a switch and throwing mobile video ads into the mix without a strategy can burn money, not make it.
Mobile video ads are impacting user choices and buying decisions, making them incredibly valuable to marketers, which is why it’s essential for publishers to understand the most valuable ways to use them first.
Go with the flow
Video ads typically drive more revenue, but you get what you pay for, so the advertisers will expect good results or they will not return. Mobile video ads offer access to the most valuable and scarce resource of all: user attention. So, don’t waste it, or abuse it, by inserting ads where they don’t belong. Take a step back and make the effort to understand who your audience is and the experience they expect.
Look for natural breaks in the flow, then consider what these breaks are in order to set your baseline. Are the breaks the natural end of a level? The switch from one article to the next? A natural drop-off point during energy recharge? Even at a high level, understanding your audience and the flow helps inform your planning. You can mix things up with interstitials, for example, or go straight to rewarded video to offer a recharge. As long as the ad is not a jarring interruption to the natural flow, you’re starting from a good place.
Monetizing your non-payers
Before you go deep on a strategy to monetize the non-payers in your audience, it’s important to work with the data—and your partners—to identify the right cohorts and the best placements. Put another way, you can invest to go deep with data on your own or you consider consulting with your ad network partner to lean on their experience and knowledge. Then, you can make a data-informed decision on what to test and how big you want to go.
If you can, look at mobile video ads, and any other formats in the mix, as a feature of the app, setting KPIs aligned with your earlier planning (revenue per non-payer, CTRs, etc). This approach helps drive the best results regardless of where you are in your app’s lifecycle. During soft-launch, you might A/B test cohorts (as simple cohorts with ads versus no ads or more nuanced). After launch, you might test with sample cohorts, or geos, that are representative of your overall audience.
Do what you do best—and leave the rest
As a publisher (just like marketers), you should always let your audience and your data be your guide. Marketers need to understand budgets and ROI. Publishers need to understand their resources and their bottom line. You need to ask and answer some tough questions - do you want to fully maximize your results and manage everything in-house? If “yes” then understand you need to have a team dedicated to do this.
In theory, bigger publishers have the resources to put together their own ad stack internally, manage waterfalls by placement and geo, and try to squeeze every possible bit of performance out of it they can. But even the big players can find this a heavy burden - developer resources aren’t free!
If you aren’t looking to manage it all in-house, be honest with the results you are after. Advertising as set-it-and-forget-it rarely performs well, so it’s best to have at least one person dedicated to ad monetization and collaborate with your ad network partner to keep things optimized. This also keeps you on track to hear about new creatives, formats and strategies - there are a lot of cool things on the horizon that you might otherwise miss with a set-and-forget approach.
No matter the approach you choose, in-house or in partnership, be honest with yourself and do the math. Engineering capabilities are critical—and they don’t come cheap. Be realistic about the resources you can put towards managing ad monetization long-term and, more importantly, the return you expect on your investments. A disconnect between the two is a danger and can put an expected drain on your bottom line.