Canada will play mobile catch-up in 2015: Strolz

Canadian agencies will increase buying in the mobile space as ad options and metrics improve, says Joe Strolz, chairman, IAB Canada.

As one year closes and another one begins to rev up, MiC is asking industry leaders to look back on the events that changed their business in 2014 and predict the trends that will shape it in 2015. Next up is Joe Strolz, chairman, IAB Canada, with the organization’s predictions for top trends in the coming year.

Smartphone and tablet share of digital advertising spend in Canada will exceed 25% in 2015, as advertisers play catch-up with the consumer: Right now, a gap exists between the amount of time consumers spend on their mobile devices (49% of Canadian internet usage is now smartphone/tablet) versus what advertisers spend on mobile advertising (13% in 2013). We expect this gap to narrow as brands increase their investment in mobile and as improved mobile measurement solutions are developed. For example, advanced targeting as a result of device linking that allows for the attribution of conversions across platforms.

Advertisements built in HTML5 will become increasingly prevalent in 2015: In late 2014 we’re already hearing reports of HTML ads being built for many campaigns, but IAB Canada predicts 2015 will be the year that it explodes.

To bolster this growth, IAB Canada’s new ad guidelines will be released in January with heavy emphasis on the importance of building out high-quality creative in HTML. In addition to this, we have introduced the concept of aspect ratios, to allow for the use of one ad, cross-device.

As stated in our first prediction, smartphone advertising investment in Canada is abysmally low when compared to the reach available. IAB Canada is optimistic that the new smartphone ad products built in HTML5 using this update will help spark much needed revenue growth in the area of smartphone advertising.

Hand-in-hand with this growth are publishers using responsive design for their properties. This will only increase throughout 2015. The IAB’s new guidelines should help to inspire new creative solutions for publishers looking to monetize this new canvas.

Viewability will continue to be in flux: Variability in metrics for viewability (the proportion of ad exposures that are deemed in view based on MRC guidelines) and measurability (the proportion of ads whose viewability can be determined by ad technology vendors) between the 16 MRC-accredited ad technology platforms – and 14 more that are seeking accreditation – will continue in 2015. This will slow down the industry-wide implementation of viewability as currency for digital media transactions, for which many agencies and their clients are advocating.

Advertisers and agencies want to hold publishers accountable for reaching their intended audience by including in-view rates as key KPIs. However, each ad technology vendor still has its own proprietary methodology for measurability/viewability, despite the introduction of harmonizing standards by the MRC in 2014. Although the MRC certifies viewability vendors, as of today, there are discrepancies between these vendor counts.

This means that budget reconciliation between publishers and advertisers remains a challenge. Advertisers and publishers may use different verification vendors – and if they do, this is going to result in discrepancies.

The key challenge is bringing these vendors sufficiently into alignment, so that viewability may become transactional one day.

Continued increased investment in programmatic: Over the past several years, we’ve seen programmatic media buying revolutionize the way advertisers, agencies, and publishers buy and sell digital media. While some educational gaps still exist, buying digital media programmatically will accelerate as this gap narrows (eMarketer estimates a growth rate of 48% in programmatic display ad spending in 2015 in the US, based on its comparative estimates in October.