Mobile Formats: The Devil Is in the Data

Different mobile formats drive different engagement rates, depending on whether the ad is a swipe or video ad, for example. In order to target effectively, marketers need to understand how engagement rates differ depending on a whole host of issues such as market, time of day, type of content, or which vertical is being targeted. Here are five ways this type of analysis can teach us more about consumer behaviour and, therefore, impact the effectiveness of mobile campaigns.

Time it right

Unsurprisingly, video completion rates across all the countries analysed were highest between 7pm and 10pm. However, swipe ads were unaffected by the time of day. It’s crucial that advertisers bear in mind the need state of consumers when serving mobile ad formats. In the evening, at home on the sofa, audiences are more likely to be receptive to video ads. However, during the day, when commuting or in the office, swipe formats are less intrusive and so prove to be more popular.

We also observe time playing a role when it comes to industry as well. Business-related content, specifically within the telecommunications sector, sees the highest video completion rates in the morning between 6am and midday. In fact, the telecoms sector sees over 55% higher video completion rates compared with all other advertiser industries during this morning time slot.

Market makes a difference

According to our data, Denmark, for example, has a much higher interaction rate when it comes to swipe formats. We believe that this in part due to cultural behaviour, but also down to strong mobile creative being produced in Denmark. For example, one ad that we ran in the region that was particularly successful was for Mercedes, where users were able to swipe on the ad to open and close the roof.

The UK comes in second with exactly 21% higher swipe interaction rates than other countries; but it’s actually video ads that come out on top in this market, especially during that crucial 7-10pm time slot. It’s also worth noting that Video Ad Serving Template (VAST)-compliant videos garner higher view rates due to faster loading times – it seems like an obvious point, but these kinds of standards are often ignored, when it clearly has an impact on campaign success.

Advertiser industry impact

The key sector in which video does well is gaming, with a completion rate of 18.70%, it far exceeds other sectors. Additionally, the completion rate of video ads tend to be higher within the style and fashion sector. It’s worth cross-referencing this with other data points such, as the market it is served in, as we find this completion rate in style and fashion is heightened in the UK with an average uplift of 200%, when compared to the European average. Conversely, swipe formats are most successful in the technology and computing sector, with an interaction rate of around 20%, followed by automotive at 12%. It’s likely that the kind of creative developed in these sectors, such as those that allow people to explore a new handset or look inside a new car, is behind this.

Context is key (vertical)

When looking further into the style and fashion sector, swipe ads across publisher content aimed at younger women sees an above-average interaction rate, ensuring that this should be a key demographic for this type of format. It’s possible that strong engagement rates for video ads across this type of content is owed to the overall trend of online fashion and beauty blogging.

News publishers in particular offer a very strong brand-building environment. News sites have an average uplift in dwell time across all formats of 12%, when compared to all sectors. So, while news tends to have lower interaction rates, (explicit swiping, clicking, etc), this environment proves best for longest time spent with the brand/message. Therefore, formats that allow for passive viewing and are brand-building are best when running in the news environment. Go native.

Age & gender

Finally, age and gender also make a difference when it comes to response rates to different types of ads. Across most markets, older women are more likely to interact by clicking ads and young women more likely to interact by swiping. In both click and swipe rates women outpace men. We see that men prefer to passively dwell on ads, so with this demographic group video formats are best.

Dwell time also increases with age, up 9.5% for the 15-24 age group when compared to those aged 35-44. This jumps to 18% when comparing the 25-34 age group to 55-64 year olds.

While the industry is finally starting to treat mobile as the priority screen over desktop, there is still a long way to go for advertisers to fully understand the potential of mobile marketing. By considering target audience segments, and how consumers interact with mobile ads, whether that be the time of day, type of content they consume, or which vertical is being targeted, advertisers are far more likely to see an increase in engagement and are also far less likely to annoy users with intrusive and unrelatable ads.


By Pinar Larsson, Head Data Analyst, Widespace