2017 was a banner year for mobile advertising. In April, IAB confirmed that mobile ad spend surpassed desktop for the first time. That tipping point had been a long time coming, and the momentum isn’t slowing.
In fact, by 2019, it is estimated that advertisers will spend more on mobile than all traditional media, minus TV, combined.
Despite its tremendous growth, the mobile advertising space is still being inhibited by a number of barriers. In 2018, the industry will continue to tackle various challenges.
The following are five predictions for 2018 on the mobile monetization front:
IAB’s Mobile Verification Open-Source SDK: A Game Changer
IAB’s Mobile Verification Open-Source SDK, still in beta, is expected to fully roll out in early 2018. This will be a game-changer for the industry and should result in an uptick in the allocation of increased budgets for mobile campaigns.
The SDK, which allows app publishers to measure their mobile inventory without integrating multiple SDKs from various partners, will normalize viewability standards across the app environment. It will bring a greater degree of confidence to advertisers in terms of who is seeing their ads.
This directly addresses a major industry pain point that has been restricting investment in the app advertising space.
Supply Cleanup Reaches Mobile App Inventory
The current wave of advertising supply cleanup in the programmatic space, very much embodied by the rapid adoption of IAB’s ads.txt project, is going to bleed further into the mobile space in 2018. Ads.txt is currently only applicable to mobile web and desktop inventory.
The IAB is working on support for in-app inventory, but that has not been rolled out yet. That will change in 2018, and its effect will ripple throughout the mobile ad space. As buyers are increasingly looking for the most direct path possible to inventory, legacy ad networks will start to dry up next year.
Consolidation as Legacy Players Look to Keep Up
Given the momentum in the mobile space, and particularly the mobile video space, we’re going to see a lot of well-established programmatic players racing to keep up.
In some cases, enhancement of offerings in mobile and video might be achieved through partnerships. But often, it will be accomplished via acquisition of more-niche players. As such, 2018 will be a year of continued consolidation within the mobile ad tech space.
OTT Remains a Buzzword
In 2018, there will continue to be a lot of talk about over-the-top (OTT) media and connected TV. But that is largely what it will remain: just talk.
OTT represents one of the industry’s buzzwords du jour, but when you ask how much budget is actually behind advertising in the space, most brands are quick to admit they’re “just exploring” at this point.
The industry must still resolve massive issues as it relates to enabling proper attribution and scalable purchasing in the OTT space. In 2018, we’ll start to see the groundwork be laid and some of the technical hurdles addressed. But OTT advertising will not come into its own next year.
Mobile Video Skyrockets, Agency Spend Still Lags
In 2018, mobile video ad spending is expected to grow 49% to nearly $18 billion, notes Recode. Mobile video will continue to lead the pack in terms of consumer time spent with media. However, as it relates to committing dollars to the in-app space, agencies will still drag their feet in 2018.
As challenges related to the above issues around standardization, viewability and quality are addressed, this will shift. But the pressure will come first from the major platforms like Facebook and, consequently, brand advertisers.
In 2018 at least, agencies will continue to resist the momentum, leaving performance buyers to once again dominate this space.
For brand advertising investment in the mobile space to keep pace with the ever-growing opportunity to reach consumers on mobile devices, these areas must be pushed forward.
In 2018, the industry will take additional strides forward, but there’s still a long haul in terms of balancing mobile ad spend, particularly in-app, with consumer time spent on mobile.