Major video growth, brand activity, and more: 6 insights from Twitter’s mobile ad exchange

February 06, 2020

Tags: 2020, DSPs, Marketers

What’s trending in the world of mobile programmatic? Twitter’s MoPub team operates a leading mobile programmatic ad exchange reaching mobile users in more than 55,000 apps worldwide. This gives us access to unique insights into mobile advertising trends that can help inform 2020 plans for marketers and agencies. In early Q1, our team of exchange experts conducted their quarterly review of advertiser activity on our exchange, and we've summarized six key takeaways below for advertisers doing their 2020 planning.

1. Blocking and tackling: the financial services vertical continues to build around the Big Game.

Early 2020 has shown some expected shifts in advertiser composition, but one notable trend is a clear spike in activity from US tax filing services, culminating in a major advertising push on the day of February 2nd’s big game. Interestingly, and somewhat contrastingly, we also saw a similar spike in spend from casinos, gambling, and fantasy sports advertisers. It appears that whether one’s interest is exhilarating financial windfalls or documenting tax shortfalls, extending an event-based marketing message to mobile is a viable strategy to reach those users and amplify the message.

2. User growth is accelerating as publishers continue to launch ad-powered apps on MoPub.

A number of new mobile app publishers launched on MoPub’s exchange in Q4, leading to an increase in the total number of unique devices that we reach. At the same time, many publishers already using our exchange published new ad-supported content in Q4 with the intent of capitalizing on seasonal increases in ad spend. We’re happy to be able to help apps power great content experiences through advertising, and the increase in unique devices reached by MoPub illustrates that we see no sign that the in-app advertising market is saturated.

3. Year-over-year investment in video advertising increased dramatically.

Growth in availability of engaging video ad formats and quality mobile video supply continue to make in-app video a powerful channel for both performance and brand buyers. We looked at the week leading up to December 25 — advertisers’ last chance for a major push before Christmas — and saw a huge increase in video spend at this time from 2018 to 2019. In particular, user-initiated video ads saw over 250% growth in ad spend, indicating that brand buyers may finally be on their way to embracing these types of ads as a viable marketing solution. On MoPub, we see these types of video ads offering an average 93% completion rate because users are making the choice to watch.

4. Advertisers see a major role for mobile programmatic over the Q4 holidays.

Ad spend on our mobile exchange ramped through the Thanksgiving holiday to a clear spike on Black Friday. This was followed by a long period of sustained activity through December 28. Advertisers made it a point to capitalize on the ever-growing popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which take place following Thanksgiving in the United States; we saw a large amount of buying activity focused on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Surprisingly, the top three days for holiday ad spending on our exchange all occurred in November. As shown below, we also saw material increases in spend on each successive Saturday in December, peaking on December 21.

5. Here come the brands: MoPub’s top buying partners shift dramatically during the holiday period, as performance spend gives ground to brand buyers. 

During much of the year, MoPub sees a roughly 2:1 ratio of performance (app install) spend vs. more brand-based objectives. During the holiday period we saw this shift to a roughly 50/50 split as brands increased their investment in mobile campaigns during this crucial time. This increased activity from brands and their buying partners can be seen illustrated below as a positive change in share of voice (SOV) of brand vs. performance spend on MoPub’s mobile ad exchange. (While spend levels were high in Q4 across the board, performance buyers’ total share of spend across MoPub’s exchange decreased due to the increased spend from brand advertisers.)

6. Mobile stocking stuffers: A new mobile device remains a hot holiday gift.

It’s no surprise that mobile devices remain in demand as holiday gifts, and we saw this reflected on our exchange. MoPub saw over 1,000,000 new iPhone 11 and 12 devices on our exchange from December 24-31. While December 26 is known as Boxing Day in many parts of the world, it might be better labelled as “unboxing day” — we saw a clear spike in new mobile device activations starting at 10am EST on December 26. With holiday vacation and travel providing the perfect time to for people to spend time on their new devices, advertisers should be careful not to view Christmas Day as the end of Q4; although major gift-purchasing may be over, mobile screentime is likely to be on the rise as people enjoy their new devices.

Inspired by these trends and ready to take your mobile ad spend to the next level? Get in touch with MoPub’s team of experts today to maximize your programmatic investment in 2020 and beyond.

About the author: John Egan, Head of Demand, EMEA

John leads the EMEA Demand partnerships team and is responsible for MoPub's buy-side partnerships with programmatic buyers and direct marketers. John joined MoPub in 2012 prior to its being acquired by Twitter, where he led publisher acquisition. Prior to MoPub, John developed implemented the ad monetization strategy for a number of gaming companies. He lives in Dublin, Ireland, and is an (internal) award-winning Twitter follow at @jegania.

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