Wednesday, October 12, 2011

HTML 5 and mobile advertising

I’ve been hearing more and more about HTML5 and I have seen a few HTML5 demos on smartphones showing some beautiful video-based content that rivals anything one might see on a full-fat PC using Adobe Flash. But what that means for marketers and advertisers is maybe not so clear. Guest contributor, Kate Manning, clarifies for us. Over to Kate…
There has been a lot of hype about HTML5, both for mobile advertising and advertising as a whole, but if you aren’t up on the technical side of advertising, this may not seem like such as a big deal. HTML5 has drastically improved video embedding, making it much easier for developers and for the mobile phone to use. Again, maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal yet, but many experts are saying that HTML5 will dominate the field of video advertising, a trophy formerly held by Flash. Since mobile phones all support HTML, and will soon support HTML5, this is set to change mobile advertising for the better.
Video advertising and mobile phones just seem to go together, but for the longest time there have been major availability issues. Flash has been a popular video advertisement format, but many mobile phones don’t support Flash. JavaScript can also be used, but you run into the same problem, only some phones support JavaScript. This means you can only advertise to a small percentage of mobile users, and that doesn’t spell good ROIs.
However, every mobile smartphone supports HTML, it’s how web applications are able to work. While HTML5 hasn’t gained universal support just yet, it is only a matter of time before every mobile phone upgrades to this new standard. Since every phone supports HTML, this means you can finally advertise to every user, instead of having to choose a specific format and hoping for the best. This also makes it easier for websites to show adverts, making Webmasters more willing to place videos on their mobile websites.
Not only is availability solved, but adding a video is also much easier. With previous HTML versions, you had to write a long piece of coding to embed the video into a website. Considering how popular videos are for mobile advertising, and just the Internet in general, you would expect HTML to make this easier. In HTML5, they finally did. Instead of using several lines of code to embed a video, you just use the <video> tag, and that’s it. Less coding means better rendering. The videos load better, the website loads faster and both advertisers and viewers are happy.
Mobile advertising is easy when people are browsing online, but what about offline browsing? Your videos will not load, meaning that advertisements can lose their effectiveness. HTML5 has implemented a way to save rich media in the device’s hard drive, so even if they are browsing offline, the video will play because it is already loaded.
Aside from making mobile advertising easier, it is also more intuitive. Along with HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScripts are combined into the HTML standard coding library. Both of these are used to control the appearance of a website or advertisement, and to add scripts to a website. Combining them into the HTML5 standard means you can do more with your advertisements without having to worry about whether mobile devices can or cannot load the advertisement.
Operating costs also go down, because there is no need for expensive coding platforms. In the past, developers would have to purchase expensive programs to make mobile advertisements, which could ruin profits. However, HTML5 is an open program, meaning that it can be used for free, and the programs that help you create HTML5 advertisements will be much cheaper.
Tracking mobile advertisements has, until recently, been educated guesswork. Usually, these metrics are based on how often the mobile phone requests a banner of video from the server; however, if the mobile phone cannot or does not load the advertisement, it would still count as an impression. Not only does that mean that tracking metrics are overinflated, but you also have to pay for impressions that may never occur.
With HTML5, since it is integrated with JavaScript, the server tracks an impression only if the ad is displayed. Better metrics means accurate tracking, and accurate payments, for mobile advertising.
Many experts are saying that HTML5 is going to change the world of mobile advertising, while others are saying this is nothing by hype. With all the changes that HTML5 promises, one can be sure that there will be a large impact in the mobile advertising world.
You can see it in action here with this demo video.

So Kate’s told us what she thinks. What do you think? Is the future here already? Is it time for marketers to get savvy with HTML5 or are you going to wait and see? Comments welcome.
About the author: Kate Manning didn't expect to find herself at the intersection of business, marketing, and the Internet, but with sound writing and editing skills, she makes the most of it.

Further resources:
Wikipedia entry:
How HTML5 is changing the face of mobile
IABUK HTML5 Advertising FAQ (this one is a bit out of date, but they promise to update it when there’s new stuff to announce)
Brightcove’s HTML5 Whitepaper January 2011
Direct Marketing Association: What HTML5 means to mobile marketers
HTML5 capability of USA’s top mobile devices, March 2011

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