The good news is that help is on the way. Recently the IAB released the final draft of the new MRAID Video Addendum, better known as "MRAID+VPAID.” This add-on to the popular MRAID (Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definition) standard arose from the frustrations of ad technology vendors and creative designers trying to build and serve interstitial ads combining the rich-media delivery capabilities of MRAID with standardized video tracking and metrics accessible to third-party reporting systems.
The resulting Addendum seeks to solve this dilemma by using another commonly used standard for video ad reporting and measurement: VPAID, which provides standardized video event reporting metrics such as views, quartile completion rates and user interactions that can be tracked and incorporated into standard campaign reporting.
Some Relevant History
Most traditional mobile ad networks run in-app interstitial video ad units only on their own network sites, generally using their own proprietary client-side technology (mobile SDKs) and ad platforms to serve, render, serve and produce customer reporting. Running “pre-roll” video this way works fine, but is not scalable past the network’s own platform reach.
In the past few years many ad creative shops have started using the MRAID standard to enable their interstitial video ad units to run across different publisher networks who support the standard in their apps. This works, but is fraught with problems because, unlike the proprietary SDKs, MRAID was not designed to support video or pass back video-specific events like video start, pause, or completion metrics. Also, those pesky variances between site-served and third party impression numbers have been all too commonplace. Generally, a lengthy certification process between the ad network and the creative server is required to ensure video impression and click thru events are fired and reported correctly.
With the release of the Video Addendum, ad creators will be able to leverage the VPAID event framework to generate standardized video impression, completion rates and interactive event reporting, which should make things much easier for advertisers and ad networks.
Expanding Mobile Video Supply
The Addendum also turns out to be a really big deal for SSPs, DSPs and ad networks, because it promises to open up hundreds of millions of mobile impressions for interactive video advertising. How? Right now mobile video inventory continues to be a fairly scarce commodity compared to desktop video inventory, with demand often outstripping supply. To make matters worse, mobile in-stream video inventory, the type most favored by brands, makes up an even smaller amount of in-market mobile ad inventory and continues to grow at a slow pace. By contrast, mobile in-app interstitial ad inventory — that is, MRAID-compatible inventory — is one of the most commonly available placements, or inventory in the mobile in-app marketplace.
Once the Addendum is fully adopted by publishers and creative shops, advertisers should start to see a large increase in the amount of available mobile video inventory offered in-market, which in turn should move more budgets toward mobile video advertising.
For mobile app publishers, this represents a huge opportunity to boost revenue by running high-CPM video in existing interstitial inventory now mostly being monetized by lower-CPM display ads.
Defining the Video Impression
In what is perhaps the most meaningful change, the Addendum clarifies that impressions for interstitial mobile ads sold as video will be counted when the video starts to play, which is in sync with how video impressions are counted in mobile in-stream video and on the desktop.
While not a panacea for all of the challenges of mobile video, the Addendum represents a solid, common-sense improvement to the IAB standards that should increase buyer confidence in the performance of mobile video adverting and spur pronounced growth in our video economy.