Mobile marketers are failing to serve rich media ads to mobiles correctly

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According to the latest Sizmek Mobile Index 2015 report, 60% of the population worldwide will be going online using their mobile devices this year. US mobile ad spend is to reach $28.7bn in 2015, representing a 50% growth over 2014. However, advertisers are still servicing 5.35bn Flash rich media ad impressions through the platform despite the fact that Flash support is outdated on most mobile devices. iOS never supported Flash to begin with and only 11% of older Android models still work with Flash. The research highlights that 98.6% of Flash rich media are defaulting to a static image, compared to 8.3% on HTML5 rich media. Ultimately, this means that almost all Flash impressions on mobile represent a missed opportunity for engagement.

98.6% of Flash rich media default to a static image

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In addition, 36% of advertisers defaulted more than average, whilst 12% of marketers never even served a rich media ad to a mobile device.

Rates of defaulting are high for Flash rich media

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The problem with static images on mobile devices is that their interaction rate is low. Click-through rates (CTR) are significantly lower than for HTML5. According to Sizmek, CTR for Flash averaged just 0.34% compared to 0.53% for HTML5 banners. Interaction rates for HTML5 were almost five times as high as for standard banners.

HTML5 outperforms Flash in CTR and Interaction

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Andy Kahl, Director of research, Sizmek says:


“In most cases, the advertiser ends up paying as if [a defaulted Flash ad] is a rich media campaign, so there is waste in terms of dollars spent. The idea around these ads ending up on mobile devices when it’s unintended throws a big question mark into the woods on how these campaigns are being run.”

However, the solution is fairly simple: convert rich media campaigns to HTML5 to allow for greater engagement of a mobile campaign. Google has recently begun to do so automatically and as of February 2015 converts Flash ad content to HTML5 automatically. Kahl says:

“Our experience is that conversion tools, while widely available in a pinch, don’t pass quality standards. The automatic conversion tools used in the course of ad serving apply only to standard banners – where a default static image serves nearly the same purpose. Our recommendation is that HTML5 be adopted from the beginning of the creative design process, particularly for rich media campaigns.”

The data in this report was collected through Sizmek’s MDX ad serving platform, used by 22,000 publishers, 3,400 agencies and 17,000 brands worldwide.