Think about ads you’ve seen. There might be one or two ‘static’ ads that you really liked. If you’re a UK native of a certain age, you might recall the famous ‘Labour Isn’t Working’ poster, for example. Perhaps there’s a jingle you recall (if so, you’re likely to continue humming it for 17 minutes).

But most likely, it’s going to be a TV ad, or perhaps even a cinema ad. It’s that combination of audio and video that brands simply know has the most impact, and is going to stimulate audiences into brand recall at the very least.

This is why brands have put a huge amount of resource into video advertising. From the first ever TV commercial for Bulova Watches in 1941 through to ‘event’ advertising such as the Honda skydiving ad, and not forgetting of course the huge premiums paid for slots during the Super Bowl, brands simply know that, to reach audiences in the most compelling, engaging way, they must do this using a moving medium, ideally with audio, in their homes. The more immersive, the better.

So they must be watching the gradual demographic slide away from TV with some concern. On the one hand they have consumer segments spend less time watching TV, according to eMarketer. On the other, there are recognised demographic sectors springing up, such as Google’s ‘light-TV’ viewers. And even anecdotal evidence would suggest that info snacking is growing as a phenomenon. Simply watch how your teenage kids watch TV, mobile device in hand, ready to start messaging each other as soon as the ads start. Perhaps you do too.

There is clearly a shift happening, and it’s away from TV, towards mobile. So how can brands continue to be front and centre of a mobile world, when they’re contending with people who frankly don’t like commercials but do like video? The answer: native mobile video advertising.

Go native

If you’ve seen advertorials in printed publications, you know what native ads are. They’re ads that fit into the publication, rather than occupying specific ad spaces. By definition, all the ads shown on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google and so on are native, because they’re within those platforms. But websites that are part of the ‘open’ web might feature ‘standard’ ads such as banner which aren’t native, but also, increasingly, are starting to develop their own native formats, unique to their layout.

Native advertising works. People view native ads 53% more than banner ads, because they’re part of the interface and are therefore less clunky. And they can measurably outperform, with click-through rates of up to ten times higher and uplifts in brand affinity and purchase intent when compared to other formats. The New York Times has been playing a leading role in this with its native ad offering, for example, and saw digital ad revenues climb 11.8% last year $182.2 million as a result.

Go mobile

As well as the anecdotal evidence of teenagers on sofas, this shift towards mobile has been going on for quite some time. Mobile overtook desktop a while back, and only last year there were strong signals that mobile would soon overtake TV ad spend. It’s almost inconceivable to recall that the BBC initially resisted developing mobile versions of its iPlayer.

And it’s not just studies. Brand spend is behind this shift. The Super Bowl is arguably the hottest advertising real estate money can buy, and in 2015 there was a shift from TV budgets to mobile.


This, surely, is what must compel brands to start think about mobile. The risk balance is slowly shifting, from the risk of mobile, to the risk of not doing it. There are naturally challenges involved in doing this. I’ve written about this elsewhere in detail, but they boil down to the technical challenges of bringing together a disparate, ‘open’ system that works with native (it’s no surprise that the ‘closed’ systems such as Facebook are native by definition), and the creative challenges of making native ads compelling.

However, these characterise the mobile advertising industry overall. We’ve moved from direct publisher agreements, to ad networks, to programmatic trading and Demand-side Platforms (DSPs). The industry has moved at an astonishing rate to accomplish all of this, so another massive ask is just par for the course. There are already big deals being struck for delivering mobile native video advertising, and this can only continue.

So within mobile, to become the first screen again, brands need to start thinking about native advertising, because it works. And within mobile native, they need to start thinking about video because it’s the successor to TV. If the message isn’t getting through, here it is plain and simple: If you’re video, you need to be mobile native.

Stephen Upstone

Stephen Upstone


Stephen Upstone, CEO & Founder, LoopMe.