Taking Advantage of a Vast New Digital Canvas

WITH THE ADVENT OF innovative creative formats across an array of connected devices, marketing strategists and creatives alike enjoy unprecedented opportunities to marry deep consumer insights with highly engaging creative.

Today, mobile video uniquely embodies this opportunity. By 2019, 72 percent of mobile data traffic is expected to go towards video, and 5.2 billion people across the world are expected to be mobile users. Given those two data points alone, it’s no wonder that mobile video ad spend in the U.S. alone is expected to reach $6 billion in the next two years.

It’s a ripe area for marketers and publishers alike. And while it is still possible to launch these types of campaigns the old-fashioned way by sending an RFP out to a publisher to make deals for a specific number of video plays, on a specific publisher’s site, for a specific type of screen automation can truly scale this buying opportunity for brands, both through open market place availability and one-to-one deals between publishers and brands.

An added bonus of accessing mobile video via programmatic marketplaces: doing so lets buyers and creatives alike take advantage of the vast new digital “canvas” of connected devices.


At the heart of the digital canvas approach to mobile video is an appreciation of an obvious fact that is sometimes still overlooked from a media plan perspective: consumers are no longer spending all day on the same device. Rather, they’re moving from device to device and interacting with each one in a unique way throughout the course of their day. According to GlobalWebIndex, the average consumer owns 3.64 connected devices.

As recently as a few years ago, the new cross-device era was causing some marketers to panic about how they would reach consumers as they moved beyond the cookie-laden world of desktop. But now that the industry has overcome these technological hurdles and can reliably identify consumers across devices, the cross-device era is now marked less by anxiety and more by excitement about the possibilities. Rather than being an obstacle, this digital canvas of devices is now a great opportunity to create more expansive, relevant, and immersive brand stories that let users watch videos in a variety of different contexts whether they’re at home, at work, waiting for the bus, or doing almost anything else.


The real promise of the digital canvas, to be clear, isn’t simply that brands can reach consumers on multiple devices. It’s that they can deliver the right messages to the right screens, and learn more about consumer behavior at each step in the process. Unlike traditional sequential advertising, sequential advertising in the digital age allows savvy brands to tell multi-part stories across devices, gather data as the campaign unfolds, and adjust that campaign in real time.

Imagine a film studio running a video campaign for an upcoming movie. The campaign could be designed to target the same consumer with a short teaser trailer in the morning, a full-fledged preview when the consumer is sitting before a desktop at work, and an in-depth interview with one of the film’s stars while that consumer is relaxing in bed with a tablet.

In the beginning, this type of campaign will conform to the buyer’s most informed guess about how the average consumer sequences their day across devices. But the beauty of programmatic is that such a campaign can learn and adapt if consumers’ responses to the advertising don’t go quite as expected.

Let’s say the studio learns that consumers are spending much more time watching content on their mobile phones than expected. In this scenario, the studio can dynamically adjust the campaign and offer the longer, mobile-optimized trailer on their mobile phones. If the videos are not being watched at all on desktop, the brand might drop desktop from the campaign or try a different creative perhaps a more work-friendly clip? If the studio finds that consumers who watch on a desktop are more likely to order tickets online, these users might also be targeted with direct response display units that send users to an on – line ticket vendor.

The key is that the studio isn’t simply putting out videos and hoping for the best. It’s learning how the different pieces of the campaign work together and adjusting the campaign on the fly. And it’s learning how to use the exciting mobile video format effectively within the campaign’s overall media mix.

This hypothetical example is just the beginning. As the digital canvas extends to wearable devices, connected TVs, and augmented reality, the opportunities for smart sequential campaigns that tailor videos for every device will only continue to expand. In this way, automation is the key to realizing the potential for this fast-growing method for connecting with consumers.

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