As consumer behavior shifts to mobile browsing, publishers and advertisers must be poised to maximize opportunities from mobile moments.
The Q4 2019 Quarterly Mobile Index (download the full report) identifies the following key trends:
In-app launches video ad spending to new heights. Video is one of the most powerful tools in the mobile advertising toolkit. Viewers retain 95% of a message from video as opposed to only 10% from text.1
Then, it is no surprise that video ad spending exploded across the digital advertising landscape over the last year. With media consumption increasingly shifting in-app where users are most captive, the opportunity growth for video ad spending looms large.
The mobile programmatic opportunity is booming as advertisers direct their attention on engaged mobile audiences through automated channels. Overall mobile platform spending rose 47% over last quarter, driven by in-app ads which spiked 62%. During the same period last year, in-app ads rose 58%, pointing to an acceleration this coming year.
Following high mobile network connection speeds in North America and Western Europe, in-app video ad spending more than doubled in both regions over last quarter, and grew faster than the same time last year. APAC also saw strong growth this quarter; in-app video spending rose 50% in the region. With faster network speeds and a push towards more interactive media, mobile video is expected to account for 79% of mobile data traffic by 2022.2
Header bidding unwraps mobile video ad revenue potential. Though many publishers are investing their resources in-app, there is still more opportunity to grow.3
2019 was a pivotal year for header bidding. While it is familiar territory in the web space, header bidding is met with scaling challenges in-app due to labor intensive SDK integrations, and latency issues from the resulting SDK weight. Surging mobile in-app video ads are beckoning for header bidding to better streamline the ecosystem.
Overall header bidding ad spending rose 51% over last quarter, showing slower growth than last year, signifying market maturity. The majority of this growth came from mobile devices—propelling the mobile share of header bidding to 55% percent—a significant shift from 49% last quarter.
The adoption of first-price auction and less labor-intensive SDK-level integration efforts is finally allowing in-app ads make significant strides in header bidding transactions.3 Mobile in-app header bidding spending doubled over last quarter, with strong performance across Android and iOS platforms. It maintained slightly more tempered Q4 growth trends relative to last year.
Holiday shopping shifts earlier, boosting global ad spending. Retailers use mobile platforms as a complement to their existing strategies to drive online sales or shoppers into physical stores.
More people do their holiday shopping on mobile than ever before.4 While advertisers concentrate ad buys around Black Friday/Cyber Monday and days before Christmas, the holiday shopping season is starting earlier than previous years. Demonstrating quality inventory is critical during the holiday season to build trust with advertisers.
While ad spending rises throughout Q4, spending is focused around peak shopping days: Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the week leading up to Christmas. Black Friday continues to be the biggest holiday event for brand advertisers to convert target customers online or in-store.
Holiday ad spending surges the week leading up to Black Friday. However, in Q4 2019, the surge began almost two weeks before Black Friday; ad spending spiked 25%, noticeably higher than 2018 when it rose 16% over the same period.
Almost all mobile programmatic ad spending comes from apps.5 In the age of mobile, and now video, buyers are attracted to in-app video experiences that can reach a steady stream of engaged audiences. As media shifts towards more interactive, dynamic formats, publishers who are poised in-app are primed to capture the growing ad revenue opportunity. To provide optimum viewing experiences and maximize ad efforts, it is important for publishers to ensure high quality inventory standards and for advertisers to tailor campaigns at welcomed levels of ad engagement to the right audiences.
Despite cost, resource and time-prohibitive implementation efforts, in-app header bidding usage continues to grow because its benefits are clear. As both mobile and video ad demand continues to soar, publishers and app developers who invest in video header bidding solutions in-app will extend their inventory monetization efforts. Like the web space, in-app waterfalls are inefficient auction methods that can cause slow load times if bid or technical issues arise, which is an especially undesirable experience for video ads.6
It is critical to align inventory preparation strategies to shifting consumption trends. Publishers and app developers should focus on content development and inventory quality controls far in advance of marquee shopping events. More importantly, inventory quality grooming before peak times optimizes monetization efforts. Publishers are leveraging tactics such as Open Measurement SDK, PMP, and app-ads.txt tactics to gain better control, while building trust and transparency with brands.