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Advertisers still in ‘comfort zone’ says media buyer who estimates 80% of mobile video ads are resized TV spots

Hemant Chauhan

Chauhan: Completion rates of 4-5% are troubling for advertisers

Despite the spectacular growth in mobile video consumption across Asia Pacific, unreliable metrics, intrusive formats and poor creative standards remain key obstacles for advertisers, a senior media agency executive has said.

Talking on a panel at Exchangewire’s conference ATS Singapore, Hemant Chauhan, regional digital director of Carat, said that the potential for mobile video to increase a brand’s reach beyond television, combined with data to make buying more “actionable, is what attracts advertisers to the medium.

However, in Chauhan’s estimation around 80% of video ads running on mobile devices in Asia are repurposed 15-second and 30-second TV ads. “The fact that we haven’t gone beyond that suggests that we are still in the comfort zone,” he said. “There’s a lot more work to do.”

Getting measurement right is a bigger issue for advertisers than the mobile ad formats they use, Chauhan noted. Although he pointed out that brands need to move away from formats that interfere with the mobile user experience.

“What they [advertisers] want to see is metrics. The format is less important,” he said.

“When we present reports and they [advertisers] see video ads as a line item they want to see whatever format delivering for them regardless of what it is.”

“When you see completion rates of 4-5% that’s troubling for advertisers,” he said.

“We often go back and say, well, you have to get your message across in four seconds, because a person has the right to choose, and they will skip [the ad]. So we are asked to produce shorter form content.”

“Shorter form content might have higher completion rates, but it does not contribute to brand metrics in the same way. We need engaging creative and formats to support those durations,” he said.

“I think it’s up to us to deliver to advertisers a format that’s not disruptive [to the user experience], that is a lot more organic in feel – and that’s what we’re pushing for as well.”

He voiced his frustration that mobile formats are not always “friendly” for the user or advertisers.

“You hear the sound playing but can’t see the video,” he said, referring to platforms such as Facebook when asked to clarify what he meant by panel moderator Ciaran O’Kane, CEO of Exchangewire.

“If you offer clients good quality inventory, advertisers will pay a premium for it,” Chauhan suggested.

“Now, you can get crap inventory for five cents. But what are getting out of it?” he questioned.

The onus is on agencies and platform providers to improve the mobile ad experience, he said.

“The price has been driven down so much, so we end up getting placements that are not clean or not seen at all,” he said, bringing up a key issues for mobile advertising – brand safety and viewability.

On measurement, he said that the degree to which brands can measure on desktop “does not exist on mobile.”

“Therefore I’m wary about placing too much money on mobile, because I’m not certain that I will be able to measure my placements, that they’re clean, brand safe and genuinely what I paid for,” he said, speaking from a client’s perspective.

Vicki Lyon

Vicki Lyon

Also on the panel was Vicki Lyon, APAC director of ad tech for online video firm Ooyala. She agreed that there was a need to “align” mobile measurement with that of television.

Once the issue of measurement is resolved, there’s an opportunity for broadcasters to claim back a lot of the money that has moved into digital, she said, adding that dynamically inserting ads into live streamed events was one example of where programmatic video can work well.

She cited the Australian media market, which has seen a 5% drop in TV viewership in the first quarter of the year, but a 40% increase in online video consumption.

“We work with broadcasters to build out their online platforms. You have to think about where audiences are going. To reach people across platforms, programmatic is the best way forward,” she said.

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