When will Asia reach the ‘golden age’ in mobile video advertising?

Mobile has become the fastest-adopted technology of all time with 3.17 billion digital consumers, according to a recent report by the Boston Consulting Group. This has escalated the growth of mobile video, with China and India becoming the largest mobile video ad consumers in Asia Pacific (APAC). Perhaps not surprisingly then, fuelled by the rapid shift in consumer media consumption, sophisticated targeting and use of interactive video, programmatic is poised for a promising future for mobile video advertising.

Indeed in the first half of 2016, Fortune 500 brands made up over 85% of mobile programmatic ad spend on the InMobi Exchange. It’s clear that as mobile becomes the primary channel for the industry, 2017 is the year that will see two rapid transitions with video ad spend and programmatic as they continue to grow exponentially in the APAC region.

While most of APAC still has a long way to go to reach the high levels of mobile video programmatic ad spend found in North America and Europe, now that 93% of APAC internet users own smartphones, we appear to be nearing the ‘golden age’ for mobile video advertising here at last.

Capturing consumers’ undivided attention

We all know that today’s consumers are mobile natives, checking their smartphones over 200 times per day on average.

For this reason, according to Mandar Kambli, Publisher Development Lead at Amnet Group Asia, which represents leading brands including Burberry, Oriflame, Expedia, GM and Mattel, mobile should not be considered just as an extension of desktop but rather the key channel in the planning of overall marketing campaigns.

“We advise clients to lead with mobile specific strategies,” said Kambli. “We are seeing a rise in the demand for premium inventory as competition within the mobile space increases, but are keen to retain a balance between relevancy and privacy for the mobile consumer, which is especially important as the mobile is the primary device for most activities.

“The growth in mobile in APAC means forward-thinking brands, buyers and agencies are clambering to leveraging mobile’s unique ability to offer engaging and entertaining content that feels authentic to the small screen experience. They all want to conquer their mobile programmatic strategies and we believe they should be incorporating new video formats; location-enabled buying and the use of private marketplaces.”

Why the dramatic shift to private marketplaces?

The brand-safe environments private marketplaces (PMPs) create are fast becoming an important part of buyers’ and sellers’ programmatic strategies. Buyers and sellers can easily come together and curate high quality audiences at scale and transact on either a guaranteed or non-guaranteed basis, or a combination of both.

While APAC is more conservative than the more sophisticated markets in the US and Europe, it’s now widely believed to be a mobile-first market and there is a real indication that buyers are spending a larger proportion of their mobile budget in mobile PMPs.

According to InMobi’s research study ‘Mobile Programmatic: A Buyer’s Perspective – 2016’ the top reasons why advertisers are buying via PMP are:

51% said it allows advertisers to get a first-look and acquire premium inventory, which may not be available in an open exchange.

47% stated that it gives access to exclusive audiences which are not available via Open Exchange.

42% said PMP allows for precise audience targeting.

40% claimed it provides more data insights/signals/access to first party data.

In addition, even though location-enabled advertising is not new, the technology is really starting to catch up, allowing marketers to take full advantage of the fact that smartphones travel with us everywhere. This ability to identify a customer’s location real time increases the value and relevance of location data for consumers and brands alike.

However it’s crucial for technology partners to acknowledge and accommodate the vast differences in maturity between markets across APAC when it comes to programmatic buying, especially in video and mobile.

Fast adoption of new video formats

In terms of ad formats, 41% of marketers prefer video for mobile programmatic, followed by native ads at 21%, because they are highly effective at getting the consumer’s attention, according to the InMobi research. In fact there has been tremendous growth in the consumption of mobile video ads in APAC, of 107% (from January to June 2016).

According to Pedro Ramirez, regional digital lead at Mindshare APAC, while consumers are now spending the majority of their time on mobile devices, especially within the SEA and APAC Regions, video is at the centre of these mobile experiences, providing a strong experience for FMCG brands.

“Our planning strategy is user-centric, ensuring that we're communicating with our audiences during the moments that matter. Activating video through a carefully curated PMP program provides opportunities to complement other channels whilst also managing key metrics, such as frequency and performance, across our partners,” said Ramirez.

As programmatic technology evolves and consumers continue to move to video, sellers will need to embrace new innovations in video formats which have become popular for mobile advertisers, including vertical video, InLine outstream, splash video and horizontal video ads, as well as rewarded video to create new mobile video inventory.

With engagement rates double that of traditional ad formats, video ads powered with the right mobile-first creatives present a compelling opportunity for brands to win. And those brands making use of the powerful opportunities delivered through programmatic technology and better analytics, are finding themselves able to deliver the right ads, in the right format, to the right audience on all devices, especially the ubiquitous smartphone. If that’s not the golden age for mobile video advertising we are seeking, then it’s getting very close.

Rick Mulia is managing director JAPAC at Rubicon Project and Jayesh Easwaramony is vice president and general manager of APAC/MEA at InMobi.

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