Every January the advertising industry finds itself looking into a crystal ball, trying to predict the year to come. What big trends will garner more investment? Which channels will earn the most advertising budgets?

While some experts in the industry spend their time trying to identify new apps or technologies, it might be wise to look instead at changes to existing formats, and what they will mean for advertisers. One area that continues to evolve at a steady pace is video advertising, and specifically interactive video. As video expands outside of the desktop experience, advertisers are looking for ways to further improve consumer engagement. To do so, they’ll likely rely on interactive capabilities, with particular emphasis on omni-screen interactivity, richer user-initiated out-stream video and 360-degree technology.

Omni-screen interactive

One of the greatest advertiser requirements when it comes to video is the ability to run omni-screen campaigns. Consumers are watching video across more devices than ever before, and advertisers need to ensure that their campaigns reach their target audience no matter where they are. This means a video campaign must maintain its interactive elements whether it runs on desktop, mobile or tablet.

In theory, advertisers need a unified language that ensures their ads are built for all screens. Industry standards have made this a reality, as have relaxations of video policies in iOS 10, which now allows in-line video, rather than forcing video playback in a native player that strips away interactivity. Yet in-app video interactivity is still a problem for publishers trying to push the experience. Advertisers are searching for more effective and compelling ways to engage audiences on a personal device, so major developments are expected in this area. News sites and original digital video content producers are two kinds of publisher subsets worth watching, as their aim is to create an interactive video experience that works across their premium mobile in-web and in-app content.

Richer out-stream

Out-stream video saw meteoric growth in 2016 – in the UK alone, it grew 440% over the first half of the year. But most out-stream is still executed very simply, with an unadorned video pushing down sections of the article before auto-playing for the consumer.

As most out-stream inventory supports VPAID, these units are able to render interactive elements, but because out-stream is often classified as video, this benefit is rarely used. From a technical standpoint, it’s a rich media execution, and rich media interactivity has been a dominant display tactic for years. What’s missing from out-stream is compelling interactivity, and with the IAB’s new Standard Ad Unit Portfolio no longer supporting auto play videos, we expect to see a new type of out-stream video emerge in 2017.

360 video

The consumer tech world is contemplating the possibilities of virtual reality (VR), but the space has not developed enough for advertisers to move in en masse. However, there is an alternative in 360-degree video. This format offers an engagement level between VR and a standard video, as some creators are leveraging devices’ internal accelerometers to build in interactivity. This enables consumers to move their device around to achieve a full 360-degree viewing experience. And with Facebook and YouTube already popularising the format, advertisers are beginning to incorporate it into display ads, especially in the travel industry, for showcasing travel destinations.

The challenge comes down to the creative. Though the technology for producing these videos is available, the lack of a skill set to effectively shoot and assemble them is a major hurdle. Marketers also need to worry about ad serving. Offering this immersive experience requires a larger file than a typical pre-roll or rich media ad, and the industry is still working on how to make these formats work smoothly. Still, as the industry eyes the potential of virtual and augmented reality, 360 video looks like a natural stepping-stone.

Video interactivity is set to be an area of steady progress throughout 2017. As video continues its journey to new screens and new playback methods, interactivity – and its ability to capture consumer attention and imagination – will follow suit.

Michael McNulty

Michael McNulty


Michael McNulty, Product Marketing Manager, Rich Media, Sizmek.