WaPo Bows "FlexPlay" For Faster Video Ads

With ad blocking a growing concern and data demands and device speed key factors driving the trend, publishers and advertisers want to reduce the amount of bandwidth and time consumed by ads on mobile devices to deliver a better user experience.

The Washington Post introduced a new proprietary video advertising technology that allows faster delivery of interactive ads across devices.

The new online video ad tech, called “FlexPlay,” takes a short clip from an advertiser’s video ad, five to 10 seconds in length, and converts it into a GIF and mp4 file formats. They will load virtually instantly regardless of device, so ads begin playing immediately on smartphones, tablets and desktop.

Text and social overlays allow viewers to interact with the ad, for example by clicking to visit the advertiser’s site or share it with friends via social media, without slowing the video delivery. Advertisers can also choose to format videos especially for vertical viewing on smartphones, tailoring them for channels like Snapchat and Periscope.

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As noted, a number of big publishers and advertising platforms are introducing new, faster-loading ad formats.

Last week, Facebook rolled out its new “Slideshow” advertising format, which allows advertisers to deliver messages in the form of a series of images to create “video-like” motion, providing a less data-intensive option than actual video ads.

Last month, Google unveiled AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), an initiative to dramatically decrease the load times for Web content on mobile devices. By simplifying mobile page formats and opening Google’s cache servers free of charge, AMP aims to have mobile Web pages load instantly, making them comparable with apps. According to Google images, video, and animations will all load just as fast as ads -- that is, instantly -- across all types of devices.

Google has already signed up around 30 publishing partners to experiment with AMP, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed and Vox.

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