Programmatic Video Ad Trends 2018

Yaniv Rozencweig
Senior Account Manager, Demand Partnerships
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In an industry that moves in milliseconds, how do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends? The good news is that 2018 continues to be all about video. However, the trends are constantly evolving, and that’s why you need to keep your finger on the industry’s pulse. Take a look at the latest video trends – and see if you’re in the know.


Programmatic video works

If anybody had doubts, it’s time to put them to bed. Users are tuning out banner ads – so video is currently the second most popular format after display ads, and it’s expected to bypass it. New technologies are popping up left and right – and according to the biggest DSPs, including a video ad in your inventory increases the propensity to buy by up to 35%. Coincidentally, 35% is also the ratio of video spend from all display advertising.


Outstream is on the rise

One thing is for sure, outstream keeps growing, especially on mobile. Unlike pre and mid-roll, which sell at very high prices and mostly via direct deals, outstream offers a more affordable alternative that’s easier to manage. Not only does it solve limited supply and open up monetization for more publishers who weren’t technologically or content equipped previously, but it’s also user-friendly, less disruptive, and provides a better user experience due to its “native” feel.

Thankfully, users have already gotten used to pre-roll and post-roll ads, too – and if advertisers keep delivering quality content in these ads, consumers might begin to adopt pre, mid or post-roll video ads as a native format – an inevitable part of their video watching experience.


Silence is still golden

The scroll is the new skip, and you only have seconds to engage users. Mute auto-play ads with subtitles work best on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and now browsers are joining the silent trend. Apple and Google are both saying goodbye to auto-play video ads with sound.

However, while silence is golden, completion rates shine even brighter. More and more advertisers choose to opt for unskippable ads – and while the idea sounds very annoying, they are also paying more attention to general ad quality.



End cards

End cards are a new field of programmatic video where there is a definite increase in demand. End cards enable advertisers to display their CTAs and encourage users to take action following the ad. These final interactive slides are shown with the help of VAST 3.0 and are growing in demand.


Personalized ads

There’s been a lot of talk about the growing popularity of personalized ads, but the trend has not quite reached the realm of video advertising. However, personalization is definitely waiting to happen – you can see this with the updates in T&C’s for many platforms, new settings in apps, and popular platforms featuring personalized (targeted) ads for users. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.

A recent survey by Adobe saw that millennials and Gen X like personalized ads but don’t think they’re “good enough,” while a significant amount of US users aged 50+ are against personalization altogether.


VPAID for mobile

VPAID has a lot going for it. Version 2.0 can play HTML5 ads and offers engagement metrics like completion rate and viewability, and you don’t need an external tool like Moat to analyze metrics.

But VPAID isn’t without problems either, such as latency, limited supply vs. high demand plus the technology itself isn’t straightforward either.

VPAID v 1.0’s code relies on Flash technology – which doesn’t work on mobile and its time in a desktop environment is over too. The move is inevitable, but it is not an easy one. There are still instances when advertisers push through their Flash ads – which then will not load and mean a wasted impression and revenue for the publisher on the other hand.



MRAID or Mobile Rich Media AD Interface Definitions is IAB’s project to come up with a commonly used API for mobile rich media ads. It is geared towards serving rich video traffic for a demand-side thirsty for quality inventories for their rich media ads.  So while MRAID specific video requests are growing, it is still far from being a popular market choice, and MRAID qualified supply is pretty low.

Thanks to MRAID v.2, one can query a device regarding specific capabilities in a standard way, offering consistent handling of video creatives.


Measuring success

Brands are still mostly using video views to measure success for most campaigns. However, DSPs are now requesting other measurable KPIs to optimize better campaigns, such as completed views, ROI, and viewability (time spent on each video view + percentage of the ad which appears on the screen). To facilitate mutually satisfying partnerships between publishers and advertisers, Mobfox is working hand-in-hand with MOAT for reliable, data-based viewability metrics.

More than viewability, video completion rate (VCR, or Viewthrough Rate – VTR) is becoming increasingly important – and the stakes are high. Advertisers are looking for at least 70% VCR, and are struggling to find it. The highest rates are provided by rewarded videos (when by watching the video users are rewarded – e.g., with extra lives during a game) and by short, 6-second videos. Demand accordingly has shifted from finding placement from longer slots to these short creatives.



Beware. Video’s great features can be all for naught if more than 2-3 wrappers are added to the request since some video players don’t allow more than that, causing latency and preventing the ad from playing. The best practice for DSPs would be to find a direct line to publish the mp4 file.




Fraud is never too far away, of course. Publishers and advertisers should both be aware of shady ad serving practices of some naughty networks. To gain higher CPMs these networks sometimes “enrich” display ad requests and send them to demand as VAST calls. The video is hidden under a regular request, a Trojan horse really, forcing unrequested content on the publisher who many times can’t even display video ads.


Programmatic TV – the next big thing?

While it’s still small – as more providers offer programmatic TV advertising, more ad budgets are shifting there. As opposed to the original skeptics, more and more see a future for this new display and predict exponential growth during the next years. According to PWC by 2021 programmatic TV will represent approximately a third of global TV advertising, while eMarketer things by 2019 5% of US TV advertising will be conducted programmatically.

But one has to take the bitter with the sweet. Currently, a technical issue is holding back the big boom. Many TVs run on their own operating systems and ads will need to be “translated” into these brand specific languages to work.



Many companies (like Mobfox) have partnered up with external verification tools like Moat & Factual to combat ad fraud and ensure traffic quality and accurate metrics. It’s not clear if these will be enough, and I expect that companies will look inward to put in place complementary internal tools to help them fight the good fight.

Creatives will go on losing seconds and becoming as short and condensed as possible to improve VCRs while still passing essential brand messages.

If there is one trend we are looking forward to, it’s interactive video ads. They are still rare today, but hopefully, soon the ecosystem will allow them to flourish and make the user ad experience better and more personalized.

And as for the creatives – advertisers are becoming more and more creative with their videos, shining a bright light on the future of the digital advertising industry. Here are two of our favorite 2018 short ads.

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