• Smart AdServer Ramps Up Vertical Video Ads to Meet Market Demand

    French video ad tech provider Smart AdServer has ramped up its vertical video ad formats to meet market demand by both publishers and advertisers. In a recent briefing, Romain Job, Smart AdServer’s Regional Manager, US, explained to me that the convergence between video and mobile is driving strong demand for ad units that conform to users’ mobile behaviors.

    Vertical video has been popularized by social networks like Facebook and Snapchat which encourage users to quickly thumb through feeds and select videos to view. Conversely, some companies like Verizon with its Go90 mobile app, are encouraging users to turn their phones horizontally to view video.

    As Romain explained, a key challenge with vertical video ads is that he estimates less than 5% of current creative has a vertical layout. Rather than requiring advertisers to re-shoot ads, which would be a non-starter, Smart AdServer will take ads and blur the top and bottom sections to blend with the ad itself. Romain said this process is very straightforward and can be done in under 2 minutes.

    The result is an ad where the video plays in its traditional orientation in the middle with where the eye tends to gravitate to but with complimentary motion at the top and bottom. While the underlying ad doesn’t fill the full screen the perception is created that it does. The vertical video can run as an outstream unit, only playing when in view as the viewer scrolls the page, or run as a full site overlay. 

    One company testing the vertical format is Adgage, a large Spanish mobile-first premium ad network. Adgage Managing Director Daniel Shaikh told me that in client trials, it has seen the average click-through rate approximately 50% higher than traditional horizontal video and also an increase in completion rate. Daniel said it’s continuing to test vertical video ads, working with clients to gauge users’ acceptance.

    While the blurred model provides an on-ramp to use existing ads, if the advertiser DOES have vertical creative, Smart AdServer can run that as well. With this approach, the full vertical ad takes up the entire screen. At the other end of the spectrum, Smart AdServer can still take an existing horizontally-oriented ad and just run it an interstitial in text articles, taking up less screen real estate.

    It’s still very early days for vertical video, but with mobile usage soaring, social networks pursuing the format and publishers’ persistent need to monetize, vertical video ads look like they have lots of growth ahead.