Digital advertising is growing worldwide, in the US in particular, and is taking an ever-growing chunk out of the overall advertising pie. In Britain, digital advertising became the leading advertising platform for the first time in 2015. The main growth engine in digital advertising is video advertising. Consumption habits are changing, and consumers—particularly the young ones—spend more and more time watching video content on different online platforms (desktop, mobile tablet and connected TV). Despite that, this growth engine doesn’t see sufficient technological development, which is unusual in the digital landscape. This, in turn, prevents video advertising from growing further, especially on mobile platforms. Advertisers, meanwhile, are getting smarter, understand the technology better, and are demanding better solutions.
It's really hard to believe, but in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2014, there were still discussions on the importance of supporting the VPAID standard in the different video advertising technologies, and a huge percentage of the video inventory in the world, and in the US in particular, was still based on VAST alone and did not support the VPAID standard. A VAST-based tag leaves the advertiser "blind" to his video advertisement's qualitative data, leaving the advertiser no choice but to rely solely on reports by the different networks. In hindsight, just two years later, it is hard to believe that the video advertising market operated without completely relying on the VPAID's capabilities. Without these capabilities, neither the advertising companies nor the clients have the ability to measure the most important data they need for their campaigns—everything from identifying the size of the player and the actual domain it is hosted on, to more complex data such as completion rates and viewability. Nowadays on desktops, the VPAID tag is the industry standard, which served as a serious professional quantum leap for the entire desktop video market.
It is interesting see how the video advertising market, which is estimated at billions of dollars in North America, has worked in the past, still does, and probably always will. It's a bit paradoxical, but those are the rules of the game. The advertisers complain about the quality of traffic and then pressure advertising agencies, trading desks and the DSP's, leading the latter to start looking for better solutions that would satisfy the wishes of advertisers.
The Ad Serving companies and SSP's (Supply Side Platform) take advantage of the opportunity that emerged. They hear the clients' demands, work on the problem, and produce technological solutions that, after a year or two, become a standard in the market. These companies, in most cases, are startups that, being inherently flexible and quick, are desperate for new business models and a stable cash flow. Paradoxically, the last to implement the required technological adjustments are the advertising agencies, trading desks, and DSP’s—that are big, established and profitable companies.
The video industry in the United States had experiences serious upheaval over the last year and a half. The industry experienced grave brand safety problems, such as ad injections, traffic bots and—no less serious—cases of ad stacking, video players embedded in a non-visible manner, and so on. All of these caused the clients, the trading desks and the different DSP's to lose trust in many respectable media owners and networks due to the chaos in the market and the lack of technological capabilities to help measure and address the problems that arose.
Once the technological capabilities—with regards to aspects of brand safety—evolved and progressed with the help of the leading brand safety companies, and every basic VPAID was upgraded to have leading brand safety capabilities—including a complete and accurate identification of 99 percent of problematic traffic—the video advertising market jumped several levels up, and received a significant upgrade in terms of the quality of advertising that the clients receive today. The quality of the media that video advertisers enjoy today is better than ever.
The state of the video advertising market on mobile is similar to the situation in the desktop world until 1.5-2 years ago. And accordingly, there is a lack of trust among leading advertisers, who are wary of growing their operations in this market until the technological capabilities are upgraded to match those in the desktop market. The solution is simple, and it exists. Every respectable video SSP nowadays supports VPAID capabilities on mobile, which allow players in the demand side and brand safety companies to provide the necessary solutions for their advertising clients. Accordingly, every video player and video Ad serving system also support the required capabilities. All that remains is for the demand side - leading DSP's to take the next step—which is so simple and so obvious—and develop the full VPAID capabilities for the mobile platform. This will change the market and help media outlets, app owners, and advertisers to increase their mobile video advertising activities.
Global web browsing habits have changed dramatically in recent years, and the number of mobile users, as well as the average time spent daily on various mobile devices, is higher than on any other platform. The mobile platform has become a must in every major campaign for any advertiser who wants to gain significant exposure. In regular display ads, mobile advertising budgets crossed in 2015 the desktop advertising budgets, but in the world of video advertising, the forecasts still indicate that desktop video advertising budgets will be higher than those for mobile until at least 2019. The only chance to change these forecasts and bring about sooner a situation in which advertisers feel confident enough to allocate video budgets to mobile video platforms, is by having all of those involved—from the different Ad Serving systems to the DSP's platforms—fully support the VPAID format for mobile as well. And as I mentioned earlier, since all the systems that serve the media side of things (SSP, Ad Serving) have already adapted themselves to demand and now support VPAID on mobile, all that remains is to wait for leading DSP players to start toeing the line and supporting these capabilities.
The writer is the joint-CEO and founder of Sekindo, an SSP that specializes in video advertising solutions.