Mobile video has become a huge market, and it’s only getting bigger. People are using their mobile phones to publish video on places like YouTube and Facebook, but they’re also using their phones to watch billions of videos a day.
So when businesses want to get their marketing messages out, they’re going to where users are spending more of their time — and that means video. And they’re seeking to buy ads that run before, during, or after all this video. But at the same time, they’re looking for the right types of video content to target the right people, as well as the right ad formats — something that’s been elusive until now.
We’re pleased to announce that Matt Gillis, SVP mobile of AOL’s ad platform for publishers, which has a large, growing video business, will be joining us at Mobile Summit on April 4-5 to discuss the future of video advertising. AOL has bet its strategy on the twin pillars of mobile and video.
He’ll be joined by Ben Webley, who runs the ad business of Zynga, one of the largest mobile game companies and publisher of games like Words With Friends, Zynga Poker, and FarmVille 2: Country Escape. Together, the two executives will chair a working session on the future of advertising.
Both executives are well positioned to see the emerging trends within the video ad industry, with Gillis from the ad platform side and Webley from the publisher side.
AOL’s Gillis serves the publishers of 65,000 apps who are looking for ways to monetize those apps. The publishers monetize with ads through AOL’s One platform, and Gillis says he sees a “boatload of money waiting on the sidelines” to be spent on mobile video. Until now, several forces have constrained that buying, he says.
One constraint, for example, is that users are skipping through ads without finishing them, which limits engagement. And advertisers have also sought a more elegant advertising experience, which is a challenge on the small screen. Since ads are more intrusive on a screen where users are held so captive, advertisers and publishers need to seek new and engaging formats to solve both of those problems, Gillis says.
VB Mobile Summit: How to acquire fast, and engage long
Zynga’s Webley agrees, noting that the real question is how quickly the new formats will scale.
Webley is tasked with making sure Zynga can offer the most compelling formats for advertisers seeking to reach Zynga’s millions of players.
Webley will center the working discussion around several trends he sees emerging in the mobile ad space. One is reward-based videos — also known as incentivized videos — where a user watches a video to get a reward of some kind, for example, earning credits in the game they’re playing. Zynga players love rewarded video, Webley says, because the formats deliver clear value in exchange for a player’s time. Since rewarded video is an opt-in experience, it gives the player more control and choice around whether and when they interact with video ads.
Another trend is the emergence of vertical video formats, which are more natural for smartphones. Until now, most videos have been stuck in a letterbox format, which means they take only a small portion of your vertical screen, and you have to turn your phone into landscape mode to see a full-screen video.
An additional emerging format is the mini-game ad, where a player plays a game within an interactive ad. There’s an opportunity to combine this richer mini-game format with the letterbox videos, Webley says — so that the player engages with the mini-game at the same time that the advertiser shows their message in the letterbox video above. For apps or games that display in portrait mode, videos still play with a lot of black space around them, and here too there’s an opportunity to fill that space with a mini-game, quiz, or other engaging experience. Zynga has already tested this and found the engagement rates to be “considerably higher” than that of a standard video ads, Webley says.
While all of these formats are gaining traction, they still haven’t reached full scale. Webley concedes that, in part, this is because getting anything to scale takes a colossal and collaborative effort between publishers, ad networks, and agencies. Rewarded video utilizes existing video formats, but not all advertisers want to be associated with a reward. For vertical video and mini-game formats, it would require all ad-network SDKs to adopt a new standard to support this. The latter may become a lot easier if and when native video takes off.
Finally, another theme in video advertising is Facebook’s growing role. The social network monetizes video well in user feeds because of its targeting abilities. However, many advertisers are looking for other channels in part because Facebook has pushed its prices so high. Gabe Leydon, CEO of Machine Zone, one of the largest gaming companies and advertisers, recently said his company has been forced to spend on ads in 300 different channels and keep its exposure to Facebook limited, in part because of the prices Facebook charges.
Other speakers at Mobile Summit include leading executives from Google, Pandora, GrubHub, Touch of Modern, Runtastic, Pocket Gems, Kik, and more.
We invite only 180 executives to the Summit (you can apply to attend here). It’s designed to be an intimate experience where executives exchange strategies around some of the hottest trends in mobile — at a time when brands are having to move quickly to embrace instantaneous distribution. The goal is to make the Summit the best insider event, and an independent one free from influence from specific vendors or platform owners.
Leading vendors will be there, but we try to invite brands and other independent app owners to create the best mix possible.
Working sessions go into depth on specific topic areas, and cocktail receptions make sure the networking juices flow.
Topics include the following:
- User acquisition
- Designing the user experience
- Messaging and video
- Mobile marketing automation
- Targeting your marketing
- How to build your mobile marketing team
- How to orient your entire organization around mobile
- M-commerce and online-offline convergence
- Nurturing existing users
- Harnessing data for mobile engagement
- Mobile advertising attribution
- Predicting and measuring
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