Is the banner dead? Maybe not, but some say it’s on its way.
Matt Cooper, founder of Addroid, an ad platform for video-based banner ads, believes the banner will die unless it is reinvented. He sees a convergence of multiple trends that will force advertisers to do just that: mobile, video and programmatic.
“What you need is a video banner that works on mobile and in the programmatic world,” he said. Naturally, that’s exactly what Cooper does at Addroid, so it’s a self-serving assertion. Then again, he wouldn’t have founded Addroid if he didn’t actually believe it.
Cooper said he isn’t talking about pre-roll video or Rising Star units; he’s talking about video that plays inside of a banner.
Seth Hittman, co-founder and CEO at Run, a mobile-focused demand-side platform (DSP), believes the definition of "banner" matters too.
“When you talk about mobile, the majority is inventory is far and away in-app,” he said. “So an in-banner video really takes the form of an interstitial in-app unit, unless you are talking about the mobile Web. Mobile Web is a different animal altogether, because then you’re looking for pre-roll, mid-roll and occasionally post-roll video units -- which are all in-stream and thus, not a banner.”
Hittman added that Run’s DSP has “seen a large amount of demand for in-banner interstitial videos that a user sees when consuming in-app media.” He continued: “These are typically full-screen videos and are click-to-play.” Hittman believes the click-to-play approach is a safe bet because it “minimizes the poorer user experience that comes with auto-play units that are perceived as intrusive.”
To be clear, Cooper is talking about "banner" in the traditional sense, not the interstitial videos Hittman referred to. Like "video," the word "banner" can take on new
Cooper understands that “video” typically means pre- or mid-roll -- as Hittman noted -- but feels as though advertisers fail to realize it can exist outside of those formats. He’s also not talking about full-screen ads, but videos that stay within a banner’s walls.
Cooper said Addroid’s units auto-play but require the audio to be turned on by the user. He said this follows the IAB standards for in-banner videos.
Ultimately, Cooper hinted that his overall desire is to see brands spend more online -- and he believes more video options is the way to make that happen.
“Display is generally considered a DR environment, and video is considered where the brands play,” he said. “But there’s not really enough inventory for that because not every Web site has a video player on it, so there’s a lot of competition for the premium stuff, and it’s expensive.”
Ajitpal Pannu, chief strategy officer at Smaato, a mobile ad exchange, agreed with Cooper’s notion that video is where the brands play. However, he doesn’t think the pricing is much of an issue for that very reason (the brands typically have more money to spend).
“We are not seeing cost as an issue,” Pannu said in relation to mobile video. “I think CPMs are not something people complain about if it’s a good user experience.”
Pannu said the Smaato exchange doesn’t see much in the way of in-banner video ads that have all of the controls, like Addroid offers (play, pause, mute). He said Smaato considers videos that auto-play from the start a “richer” media format.
It all boils down to this: Cooper is fed up with static images inside banners that he feels belong in the 1990s. His vision is a mobile experience, both in apps and on the Web, that looks better and works better.
Pannu isn’t sure brands will buy in to in-banner video ads on mobile devices in a major way, contending that you limit the video’s playability within such a small box. Even if that ends up being the case, I have to agree with Cooper's view that the industry could make better use of mobile banners.