Getting Beyond the Mobile Pre-Roll: Conversations, Not Impressions
If you want to get better performance from a mobile video ad campaign, then start thinking outside of the video player box. In its latest report on user behavior and ad activity on its own mobile network, Rhythm New Media found that packaging banners and full page ads with video pre-rolls together in an app produced significantly better results than with banners alone. In the one set of data on campaigns, a banner ad campaign alone achieved a .3% CTR while the inclusion of pre-rolls increased the banner CTR 45% to .5%. Likewise, full page ads alone achieved about a 4.5% click rate while the addition of video added 50% to the response rate.
"We encourage clients not to do single format campaigns," says Ujjal Kohli, CEO, Rhythm New Media. "With multiple formats you can goose the interactivity. One plus one equals three." The immersion effect or surround session feel of a sponsor's persistent presence is one of the strengths mobile apps bring to the table. Back in the day, the New York Times launched an ad format it called "surround sessions" in which the same sponsor followed the users around the site to reiterate or iterate a message. This is a tougher trick to pull off on the Web where people drive by sites and few publishers dare to give a sponsor total share of voice on a page. But in the limited confines of a mobile app, surround session-ing could and should make a come-back.
The mobile app by its nature is a more confined and controlled space. There is an opportunity here for an enterprising sponsor not only to own the app with a persistent banner or pre-roll presence, but to engage in a conversations with the user. This idea is as old as the ages but somehow got lost in the age of impression-based advertising where brands bought GRPs and did reach and frequency calculations rather than consider how best to use this ever-growing media inventory to craft engaging ways to communicate. Once upon a time there were road side ad signs that revealed their message only over time as you traveled down the road. On a highway the advertiser knew your path and knew they could iterate a message across miles of roadway. Generally this expectation of someone's attention could not be found in broadcast and online. Instead we just pound away and hope that repetition will make up for lack of attention.
An app, where people do tend to spend time and move through various experiences, allows for iterative and multi-format messaging. A banner or interstitial can raise awareness, perhaps at the edge of consciousness while a video pre-roll engages the story and makes the later encounters with display more recognizable.
Even the much-touted iAd is only able to tell stories and have conversations with the user once it successfully interrupts her content experience. But why can't the advertiser convey a subtler and more effective message simply by walking alongside the user as she moves through a media experience and offer less intrusive but more iterative messages that combine different ad executions into a more wholly formed message. It seems to me that the next stages of digital advertising shouldn't be just rich and deeper but broader and perhaps lighter and iterative. Why intrude when you can accompany?