Commentary

Unruly To The Rescue Of The Vertically Challenged

It’s a vertical world after all.

Well, it really isn’t but there’s a certain big segment of the advertising world that thinks it should be, including Sarah Wood, co-CEO and co-founder of Unruly, the ad tech firm that usually finds its way into the news when it counts up shareable advertising, and begins marking trends in the streaming ad business.

Really vertical advertising is one of them. Hugely logical. The whole world is going toward video watching via mobile phones and the whole world under 30 is doing a lot of that watching via Snapchat, where vertical ads are a little bit like a Visa card at the Olympics. Without it, you’re not going anywhere.

Unruly has now introduced its new Vertical Video Collective, a bunch of mobile-first content creators who will be found with vertical ads on two giant News Corp. platforms--the New York Post and the The Sun over in somewhat sunny London, exclusively for the first month. The deal also shows what Unruly’s acquisition by News Corp. last year was all about.  

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Vertical Video will be available  programmatically through UnrulyX, the viewable video SSP, and via both Unruly and News’ direct sales teams.

Unruly quotes eMarketer stats that claim 45% of all digital video views are happening via mobile devices. According to Unruly’s own vertical video survey, 53% of all consumers (and 57% of the incredibly fickle millennial population) think the idea of turning their phone horizontally to watch an ad is “annoying.” In fact, 34% of all consumers and 43% of the easily PO’ed millennials have locked their phone to the vertical mode.

(This apparently is not the same information Verizon’s Go90 gleaned from its own research before it launched its video service, whose very name is taken from the idea that its users--our pals, the millennials- have to turn their phones 90 degrees to watch. Really, who has time to turn their phone 90 degrees?)

The Unruly ads don’t play sound--you-know-who doesn’t like autoplay sound on mobile ads, either. But the user can opt in. The new mobile format guarantees video views are viewable, as defined by the Media Ratings Council and measured by Unruly and News Corp.’s launch partner Moat.

Wood and I chatted about the end of the spoken word commercial (or conversely, the coming golden age of captioning) when we met a couple months ago. Advertisers, she said excitedly, are now required to put extra attention on visual elements, because on Facebook and all over mobile, and on Snapchat, that thing called the voice is just an “American Idol” clone on NBC.

I recall Wood said the birth of the modern multi-use caption might be the film, “Downfall,” in which actor Bruno Ganz portrays Hitler in his last days in the bunker as he learns his military strategy is crumbling around him. His angry reaction and dressing down of subordinates has become a well known meme, comically dubbed by zillions of YouTubers who have Hitler flying into a rage over stupid football plays or other boneheaded ideas.

Though I don’t know who thought of horizontally-based Go90, I watched that Hitler rant and wished them well in the future.

pj@mediapost.com

2 comments about "Unruly To The Rescue Of The Vertically Challenged".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, June 21, 2016 at 1:48 p.m.

    I was at a movie theater on Father's Day with my family and made this observation to my sons who were glued to their vertical smartphones before the film rolled, "You know, the format of this movie screen was arbitrary, so it simply copied the proscenium arch of a live play. I suppose if Alexander Graham Bell had invented the cell phone before the first movies were shown, today we might be staring instead at a big vertical screen." But in reality it turned out the first movies were a mild rectangle in horizontal form, which TV copied, and then became much wider as Hollywood attempted to thwart home TV, but the wider format was later copied by HDTV. My point is, the screen orientation is arbitrary and based on what seemed correct at the time.

  2. pj bednarski from Media business freelancer replied, June 21, 2016 at 5:57 p.m.

    Hi Doug---Great observation. I heard Sid Caesar, of all people, argue that the device that most changed everything was the remote control tuner. It's kind of true, too. We'd never have that massively wasteful cable lineup--or heavy TV viewers would be a lot thinner!--if they had to get up everytime they wanted to change channels. Of course, it's just a playful observation but Caesar was talking about more than just TV, though. So much stuff works by remote we're not even aware of it. 

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