If you ever want to confirm your assumption about a new marketing trend, all you have to do is follow the money. A recent spate of direct and anecdotal evidence suggests the cash is flowing into mobile advertising in general and mobile video advertising in particular. Moreover, I believe the evidence is compelling enough to at least consider an investment in mobile video advertising.

Let me briefly lay out my case.

Going Digital, Going Mobile

Last December, eMarketer estimated that advertisers will spend nearly $600 billion ($592.34 to be exact) worldwide in 2015. Of this, about one-third (33.5) was allocated to digital. Within digital, mobile advertising was predicated to be the main growth engine, with advertisers spending $64.25 billion worldwide on mobile in 2015, an increase of nearly 60% over 2014. Looking ahead, eMarketer predicts mobile ad spend will reach $158.55 billion by 2018, when mobile ads will account for nearly a quarter (22.3%) of all ad spend worldwide. By 2017, mobile’s share of worldwide digital advertising will have eclipsed the 50% mark.

In other words, as the marketing world goes digital, it’s chiefly going mobile. But mobile is a big space, and can mean a lot of different things from an advertising perspective. Where specifically should mobile advertisers invest their money?

Higher Engagement with Mobile Video Ads

This is one of the questions addressed by mobile advertising agency Millennial Media’s 2014 Year-in-Review Smart Report study, which found that mobile video ads realized on average 5X the engagement when compared to standard banners, with some verticals (technology and business services) experiencing over 800% greater engagement. Data from the study suggests a clear top-of-the-funnel meets middle-of-the-funnel leaning in the use of mobile video advertising, where the primary goal is to drive brand awareness and engagement. According to the study, this synchs with the goals of mobile campaigns on their platform generally, where the most frequent objective was brand awareness and engagement. Not surprisingly, taking advantage of larger screen sizes, mobile video ads are more heavily targeted towards tablets (at 2X the rate of all ad units).

Extrapolating from the Millennial Media study, if mobile video advertising is effectively 5X more effective at driving awareness and engagement as other types of mobile advertising, it should come as no surprise to find mobile video ad spend increasing at the same rate, that of 5X.

Equals Higher Spend on Mobile Video Ads

Magically, it has, at least according Opera Mediaworks’ newly released State of Mobile Advertising Report for Q1 2015, in which the global ad platform found that mobile video ads now comprise almost 13% of Opera’s delivered impressions, up from 2.5% in early 2014; an increase of roughly 5X.

Apparently, even as mobile video ads enjoy 5X the engagement, spending on mobile video increases 5X.

It’s nice to see an equation so perfectly balance out…

{Incidentally, if you’re looking for really solid direct evidence of the robust increase in mobile video ad spend, you can’t do much better than Opera: the ad platform serves 90% of the top global advertisers and touches 800 million unique mobile users.}

The Ascendancy of Mobile Video Ads

Further anecdotal evidence of the ascendancy of mobile video ads can be found in Demand-Side Platform BrightRoll’s recent announcement of a new suite of solutions designed to help advertisers maximize the impact of their mobile video advertising across screens and devices. According to a company press release, the move will give advertisers running programmatic video advertising campaigns on the BrightRoll DSP access to a holistic set of mobile tools to better measure ad effectiveness, simply implementation, and increase mobile app reach.

Whenever you have massive online ad publishers/DSPs like Opera and Brightroll falling in line with a promising new technology, you know it’s time to pay attention. It seems this is the case with mobile video advertising, where the big players are all scrambling to position themselves as mobile-first and mobile-ready.

As Tod Sacerdoti, CEO and founder of BrightRoll, noted in the press release, “Mobile advertising has experienced impressive growth, but the majority of marketers are still uncertain about how to execute and verify the effectiveness of their mobile video campaigns…Mobile has always been an important area of focus for us, and we are doubling-down on our efforts to give advertisers the ability to measure performance across the breadth of devices to better understand their target audiences and effectively spend marketing dollars.”

Perhaps to underscore that they’re all-in on mobile, Brightroll is also integrating with Nielson Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) on the Brightroll DSP, which will provide a much-needed infusion of analytics into an as yet sparsely measurable medium, and thus resolve the issue of video ad supply outstripping demand. As COO Bruce Falck aptly stated, “you can’t spend something that you can’t measure.”

Too true, Bruce, too true.

Falck also went on to point out that Nielson DAR will help bring mobile advertising “to parity” with desktop, which is really where it needs to be in a world transitioning to mobile.

These moves are echoed by Google, who just yesterday announced a number of initiatives to transform its heretofore desktop-focused AdWords platform into a cross-device (read “mobile-centric”) advertising ecosystem. Coming hot on the heels of its “mobilegeddon” search engine update meant to promote mobile-friendly websites, this AdWords update could be read as second act of a two-part mobile facelift initiated by the search giant.

Beyond the numbers, there are quite a few readily apparent and less obvious reasons why mobile video advertising is enjoying such meteoric growth; most fall under the rubric of evolving consumer habits, technological advancements, or changing industry mores. Writing for TechCrunch, Yoni Argaman explores some of these in her aptly titled piece, “Why Mobile Video Advertising is Set to Explode.”


Whether or not it is set to explode, it’s pretty clear that mobile video advertising is one of the hottest areas of digital marketing. As streaming technologies improve and mobile adoption increases, its stands to reason that mobile video consumption will continue to rise. Mobile video consumers seem willing, even eager, to tap on and otherwise engage with mobile video ads. Hopefully these reasons, coupled with the direct and anecdotal evidence cited above, are enough to persuade you to take a closer look at an investment in mobile video advertising.