premium mobile video


We’re Headed to the IAB Leadership Meeting! See You There?

Rhythm is headed to the IAB Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert next week, and in addition to the sun and the golf (and the drinks), we are particularly fired up to hear from industry experts and contribute our own expertise to the digital advertising conversation. These are the top three sessions we’re most excited about. Will we see you there?

1. The Five Pillars of Wisdom (8:30am on Monday, Feb 10)- We’ll get started bright and early on Monday by peeking into our future with Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the IAB, who will give us an in-depth look at the strategic pillars guiding IAB initiatives over the next five years. We’ll hear about the challenges faced across our industry and some of the ways the IAB is leading the conversation in a rapidly changing digital advertising ecosystem. We’re particularly excited to contribute to the discussions that will inevitably follow regarding digital advertising’s shift to a mobile audience and programmatic buying.

2. The Measurement Revolution (2:30pm on Monday, Feb 10)- Measurement is a big deal in mobile advertising, and we’re just starting to crack the code on how to improve mobile audience measurement for brand marketers. In this session, Neal Mohan, Vice President Display Advertising at Google, talks technology and a world not so far in the future where reach, recall, and user engagement are all accessible, actionable mobile audience metrics.

3. The Great Debate on Native Advertising Effectiveness (11:00am on Tuesday, Feb 11)- The great native advertising debate is all about how native advertising will fail… or thrive despite the “poison pills” facing the medium. In five separate debates moderated by Terence Kawaja, Founder and CEO of LUMA Partners, debaters will argue their points and counterpoints on various aspects of native advertising effectiveness. We’re guessing some forms of native advertising will prove overrated, but that in general, premium, custom native content will come out on top as winners despite rumors to the contrary.

Keep an eye out for Rhythm’s very own CRO, Paul Bremer; VP of Business Development, Eugene Youn; and VP of Ad Products, Josh Stivers. We’ll be listening, we’ll be contributing, and we hope to see you there! 

Tags: IAB, measurement, Native advertising

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Introducing Rhythm Ad Retargeting for Mobile Audiences

Ad retargeting has become a fairly common and sophisticated feature found at most ad networks in the desktop world—just surf the web on any desktop browser and you’ll find ads that follow you around the net, even when you switch computers! But when it comes to mobile retargeting, the technology is still in its infancy. Hampered by the inability to use persistent cookies on mobile websites with any consistency and by a general lack of standardization around methods of user identification, implementing mobile retargeting has been a challenge requiring a combination of mobile expertise, big data technology, testing, testing, and more testing to design and implement.

That’s why we are excited to roll out Rhythm Ad Retargeting for mobile audiences, a feature that meets the demands of brand marketers clamoring for desktop-like targeting solutions for their mobile advertising campaigns. 

Here are a few key features: 

Sequential Retargeting

Deliver different creative in a progressive sequence based on consumers’ expressed engagement or viewership patterns. Sequential retargeting starts with a large pool of consumers (run of network) and ends with a much smaller, qualified pool of engaged consumers and prospects. Given that many mobile creatives have multiple tap-to-actions, sequential retargeting allows brands to sort out different groups of consumers by interest or action.

For example, assume there are three versions of an ad creative for an automotive campaign: 

  • Ad #1: Brand awareness (Creative: Introducing the new Ford F-150.)
  • Ad #2: Learn about sales or incentives (Creative: Year-end clearance sale happening now at a dealer near you.)
  • Ad #3: Build or price your own vehicle in a configurator (Creative: Find the Ford truck that's right for you.)

Consumers who have already seen or tapped on Ad #1 would later be served Ad #2. Consumers who have already seen or tapped on Ad #2 would later be served Ad #3. The brand may choose whether a view or a tap triggers retargeting, depending on campaign goals.

Creative Performance Optimization

Frequency capping is a hot topic in mobile right now and the ability to cap at the individual placement level is rare, with Rhythm being among the few mobile players able to provide this level of control. But what is the right viewing frequency for an ad and how do you know you’re optimizing your ad spend? 

Retargeting offers a way to ensure brand advertisers that consumers who engage with a specific creative don't get served the same creative again, allowing marketers to stretch their ad dollars and move consumers further along the purchase funnel.

Better Support for Brand Research 

Brand lift and other research studies from Nielsen, comScore, and the like have become a standard ask from top brands running mobile ad campaigns. Without retargeting, mobile supply providers must use the highly inefficient "pre/post methodology"—running a pre-campaign flight to build the control audience (which means trafficking value added impressions for two or more weeks to secure a statistically significant number of respondents) and a second post-campaign flight to build the exposed audience. This wastes valuable inventory and often delays campaign launches. With retargeting turned on, impressions for both control and exposed audiences can run in the same flight, optimizing impression delivery and delivering more accurate study results.

We are excited to bring Rhythm Ad Retargeting to market and look forward to using this new tool to help brands engage with their mobile audiences.

Tags: retargeting, frequency capping, comScore, Nielsen

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We Want More Video! (And We Don’t Care Which Screen We Get It On)

We want more! The proliferation of mobile video content has service providers bursting at the seams. They just can’t seem to keep up with consumer demand for video.

Take Verizon, for example, who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading its already robust network to accommodate growing demand.  Verizon CFO Fran Shammo knows that video consumption is a trend that is only going to continue to accelerate. "Consumption of video is far outpacing what our expectations were," he said. And Verizon is not alone. "We have really high expectations in terms of video consumption," said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.  As service providers compete for spectrum to build their networks, video delivery is a main lynchpin for success.

Video is exploding so quickly that lawmakers are introducing bills to accommodate video consumers. Senate and House bills from both sides of the aisle have tried to tackle the problem. "People want to watch video online and get news online. You don't criticize people for doing what they can afford to do and want to do, you enable them," said West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller. Legislation “is the ambitious approach we need to ensure that the benefits of online competition come to the video marketplace... It would bring fairness, transparency, choice, and competition to online video,” said John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at the public interest organization, Public Knowledge.

Consumer demand for video is accelerating—both technology (typically ahead of trends) and legislation (typically behind trends) prove this from both ends of the spectrum. It is clear one medium will not dominate and that video will continue to be accessed from anywhere – TV, Online, Mobile, Connected TV, and more.  

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Serving Third-Party Video: VAST vs. MRAID

By Josh Stivers, Senior Director of Mobile Ad Products

It used to be so simple. Only Rhythm and a few other players knew how to serve video ads to a mobile device. The agency would send us a video file, we would load it into our ad server and… voila! The videos were served with reporting and fries on the side. Those were the good ol’ days!

Things change, of course. As more and more campaigns rely on mobile as part of their overarching video strategy, Rhythm’s success in selling to large brands depends on playing along with third party digital ad service providers used by advertisers to manage brand media buys. In particular, many brands often prefer to have a single provider manage, deliver, and track video assets across online and mobile audience channels. 

Enter third-party video ad serving.

Rhythm currently supports two methods for serving third-party video ads into our premium inventory: VAST video ad tags and MRAID interstitial ad tags.

VAST Third-Party Ad Serving - VAST is the industry standard used to allow video players to talk to each other. Using VAST, an agency or designate serves the video asset themselves and gives us a VAST video ad tag to traffic. This ad tag points to a video stored on a non-Rhythm content server somewhere in the cloud. Rhythm then traffics the VAST ad tag like any other creative. When served to the device, our SDK parses the tag to find out where the video is located and makes a call out to get it. Both parties, Rhythm and the Agency, are able to see and monitor the video completion reporting. This is our PREFERRED way of supporting 3rd party ad serving requests.

MRAID for Interstitial Video - MRAID is an industry tech standard used by mobile creative providers like Celtra and Phluant to deliver rich media creative to mobile in-app interstitial inventory. It can also be used to serve interstitial video. Because of this flexibility, traditionally online video ad providers without mobile inventory or SDKs have begun to use MRAID as a way to serve their video ads into third-party mobile inventory, such as Rhythm’s, thereby claiming mobile compatibility. Rhythm can accept an MRAID ad tag from the video ad provider and traffic it to interstitial placements.

While workable, this method has some pitfalls. Because the MRAID standard does not reference instructions for dealing with video, only the video ad provider serving the ad can see the video views and completion reporting using a tracking method of their choice. Also, variances between our reported video impressions and third-party video views can be high, since their video may not start playing exactly when the placement is viewable to the user. Because of this, Rhythm must test all MRAID video to make sure it renders correctly across all properties. 

So what’s next? For sure the number of online video ad providers coming into mobile continues to grow and with it more pressure to adopt existing online standards for video ad delivery. VPAID, a standard for handling interactive video ad units online, has the potential to become the next standard for serving video ad units across online and mobile. Stay tuned!

Tags: MRAID, VAST, IAB, third-party video

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Video “Viewability” – A Redundancy for Premium Mobile Video

The last few months, the press has been abuzz with articles trying to get to the bottom of video “viewability” in digital advertising. Defined loosely (after a healthy amount of debate) as the rate at which an ad impression is actually viewed by its target audience and not just left floating in the advertising ether with no viewers to be found, viewability has become an especially hot metric in defining online display advertising success, where a combination of both worthy and unworthy inventory often outstrips demand. But in the world of premium mobile video, is viewability even a necessary metric?

It’s not. And quite frankly, deeming a premium mobile video to be “viewable” is about as redundant as proclaiming a Siberian winter day “cold”—because, of course premium mobile video ads are getting seen! The three reasons? High completion rates, fullscreen, immersive engagement, and fair value exchange.

Premium, by definition, means high completion rates, usually 75% or higher, which means viewers are watching mobile video ads at least three quarters of the way through at least three quarters of the time.

But how do we know they are actually seeing the ads? Premium mobile video ads are both fullscreen and immersive, which means that unlike online video where it’s easy to switch screens while ads run before a viewer’s chosen video, mobile video ads take up the entire screen at once. Switch out of the video player and the video will likely stop playing, meaning you’ll have to start the video (and the ad) all over again in order to see it. To avoid having to do that, viewers simply watch the ad.

And why do they watch that ad? They watch the ad because in premium mobile environments, there is a fair value exchange between the free video content and the 15 to 30-second ad viewers are asked to watch beforehand. Thanks to frequency controls (one ad per every three videos or so) and short, well-targeted ad pods, viewers perceive it as “fair” to watch an ad. It’s something they’re used to from television, but because the ad pods are short and because they are not skippable (unlike long, DVRed commercial breaks), viewers watch the ad. 

Just to be clear, we’re not saying viewability isn’t an important metric for brand advertising—it definitely is—it’s just that labeling premium mobile video as “viewable” is like calling salted caramel delicious. It’s in its nature!

Tags: video viewability, viewability, premium mobile video, Premium, Mobile, Video

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