The Wrap Up: IAB’s The Leading Edge of Mobile Creative

Keith Walter, Art Director, Tapad:

Last week, I attended the IAB’s ‘Leading Edge of Mobile Creative.’

The town hall featured really great content (fireside chat with Jessie Harte of Digitas, discussions with the CEOs of Adcade / Celtra / Kargo, etc.), but i’m going to focus on the roundtable that closed out the event.

The conversation focused on how mobile creative is evolving, where we can still improve and how the IAB can help fuel learning and further encourage mobile advertising / marketing experiences that engage, inform, and entertain. This section hit close to home as this is what I do day-to-day.

Over the last several months, the industry has been a buzz with concerns on ad blocking. A recent report shows ad blocking has grown by 41% in the last year -- and there is a chance this number will increase. So what caused this huge spike and what can we do about it?

As a creative, I may be biased, but I think reevaluating the creative behind the advertising is a really good place to start.

Here’s a few of the big themes we’re seeing in the industry.

Farewell Flash, HTML5 is the Way Forward

With the rapid decline of Flash (Mozilla blocked it, Facebook is against it), creatives must embrace HTML5 as the next frontier for building digital ads. With that comes some pain as many designers are unfamiliar with the technology. Additionally, the rise of new devices means new ads are needed -- ones that are personalized to fit specific screens. Let’s face it, a banner designed for a desktop is not going to work well on a mobile phone.

Traditional ad units and design methods must be modernized to fit our current ecosystem. Ads should be created with a single, definable purpose. For example, if you want to encourage engagement then build in a swipe feature or another interactive component and focus on the one engagement aspect.

Overcoming The Dreaded Skip

A recent study from MetrixLab and TubeMogul showed that ~85% of video ads on mobile devices are skipped. Ouch! But, why?

Length is a big issue. Imagine you’re about to watch the newest 30-second, viral video on YouTube when suddenly you’re presented with an unskippable ad of equal length. Equal advertising time to content time?! This is a bad situation on it’s own, not to mention frustration with rising data usage as a result of more complex ads. So what are we to do?

Refine the Message

Making an ad so short it is unskippable encourages, well, people not skipping it. Geico has done a really great job with this in their ‘unskippable ads’ campaign. That being said, I’m well aware that not every ad campaign can, or should, be built on super-short videos. Still yet, the concept of message economy applies. In any ad, prioritize a single goal and work to get your message across as quickly as possible.

Statistically, people are most likely to watch the first 8 seconds of an ad -- so use that time wisely.

  • Interlacing video with static copy cards can help keep users engaged and also emphasize your most important message, slogan or CTA.

  • Displaying a countdown timer lets users know they have 10 seconds of video to watch vs an unknown amount. Having an end in sight encourages folks to stick around.

Getting Vertical

According to creative-technology company, Celtra, ~98% of mobile users are watching video vertically. With Periscope, snapchat and the like, users are becoming more and more comfortable with, and even expecting, vertical video. As much as it might pain our traditional TV colleagues, vertical video is here to stay.

It’s important to use best practices if you’re embracing this new medium.

  • Remember to keep vertical videos short. Also according to Celtra, the average view time is 8 seconds. This isn’t a traditional video ad and shouldn’t be treated the same way.

  • Beware of the volume. A recent eMarketer report revealed 98% of video watched is muted. Instead of forcing users to listen to sound, leverage on-screen text or contextual video assets that work with or without the volume.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

Recent studies suggest, in 2016, 14- to 34-year-olds are expected to consume 98.2% of their media first time on their mobile device. Additionally, according to Nielsen, the average adult spent 4.5 hours watching live TV in Q3 ‘15, down 4.4% from last year.

As people continue to shift how they consume media to non-TV devices, we as marketers must change how we approach the classic "TV Spot." Video now lives across the entire ad ecosystem. We must approach the content with a unique mindset for each channel and device it will be seen on.

Over the last 5-years, we’ve come to a turning point where device fragmentation is reality. Consumption happens across all devices and changes fluidly throughout the day. We must now think in a truly 360º fashion when building creative. Here’s a great example of some quality mobile creative results from Audi.

The old saying capture the eye and relay the message is now more important than ever.  With more access to customers than ever before, it’s time to truly care for those relationships.