Mobile video ad impressions averaged 728 million a month in the first quarter of 2011, up 36% from the prior quarter, according to new data from mobile video ad network Rhythm NewMedia. More than 70 marketers ran campaigns during the quarter, about the same as in the fourth quarter.
The Rhythm data is based on ads served across the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android and other mobile devices in the U.S. HBO, Kraft, Disney and Marriott, among other brands, use the company's network to run pre-roll, tap-to-play and in-stream video ads on the apps and mobile sites of various publishers, including CBS, Fox, NBC, Discovery and AP.
Among the three ad types, the in-stream unit, which plays as a commercial break during full episodes or before video clips, had the highest completion rate: 87%. The pre-roll, which automatically plays when an app is launched or between game levels, had a 27% completion rate, and the tap-to-play ads, requiring a user to tap on a display ad to run, a 21% rate. (Unlike most pre-roll ads on the PC-based Web, viewers can skip the Rhythm pre-roll ads, contributing to the lower completion rate.)
When it comes to click-throughs, the tap ads, which may appear when a user is browsing photos, articles or playing a game, had the highest rate, at 7.2%, compared to 4.5% for pre-roll, and 1.3% for in-stream.
Rhythm suggests advertisers can increase the effectiveness of ad units, depending on how they are used. For instance, in-stream ads perform best in run-of-network campaigns, where the click rate increases to 1.4% from 1.1% on targeted sites or a single site. For pre-rolls, completion rates increase from 23% to 36% when run in between screens instead of at launch.
In terms of industry categories, entertainment, mobile/telecom and consumer packaged-goods were leading advertiser segments on the Rhythm network. In an Online Video Insider column last week, Dan Mosher, vice president of mobile and network development at video ad network BrightRoll, noted that mobile video inventory far outstrips demand, leading to lower CPMs. "$30-plus CPMs in mobile video will disappear within 12 months. If your business is banking on those rates, you will lose," he wrote. Rhythm did not disclose information on average CPMs on its network.
The mobile video audience overall remains small. Nielsen estimates that about 10% of the 229 million U.S. mobile users ages 13 and over watched video on their phones as of mid-2010.