Mobile ad format innovation gathers pace

The common consensus amongst brand marketers is that the future of brands will be built on mobile. As if to underline the point, eMarketer stated late last year that by 2019 nearly 80% of US programmatic ad spend will go on mobile ads rather than desktop.

Publishers take heed.

That’s not to say mobile ad inventory is expensive – it’s not just yet – and industry sources whisper that mobile inventory still exceeds demand on a general, open market basis. But that’s set to change this year. And fast.

Whilst desktop display ad prices are beginning to level off with predicted gains less than inflation for the year, one industry insider argues that mobile ad inventory is about to have its hockey stick moment with almost 4% growth month over month for 2018 and a rise of more than 45% by 2019.

Whether these predictions will be realised is a moot point, but publishers have been served notice to get their mobile houses in order.

Brand marketers are not just looking for standard formats either. Instead they are searching out new formats that not only allow the cutting edge ‘layering of targeting signals’, but also offer deep engagement in the form of immersive mobile formats, full-screen native ads, and other formats that can offer utility (which itself accelerates their adoption).

Mobile creativity through third party platform specialists and vendors has increased dramatically to meet this demand. At this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona for example, Sublime Skinz, a leading solution for non-intrusive ads, announced the launch of two new interactive mobile ad formats – The Capsule and The Video – that encapsulate the need to elevate engagement and create opportunities for more effective branding.

Larger publishers like Oath (a subsidiary of Verizon that incorporates AOL and Yahoo!) are also pioneering their own formats. At the aforementioned Mobile World Congress last week, Oath rolled-out several new innovative ad formats, including its augmented reality (AR) ad unit, full-screen native ad unit and social interactive ad unit. AR ad units are set to be the next big trend as they take digital storytelling to deeper levels, with Quartz heralding both VR and AR as ‘the future of digital advertising‘.

For smaller publishers, without the deep pockets to pioneer their own formats, The IAB’s Mobile Rising Stars’ showcases a wide range of unique and individual formats, alongside the vendors, that are coming on screen in short order.

For publishers of all description, the need to offer creative, innovative mobile ad formats is paramount. It’s not just the precise targeting or high engagement rates, but also the growing ad revenue streams. At a time of squeezed margin pressures coming from all sides, mobile ads are set to offer publishers one of the few growing sources of revenue left.