Brands rise to the challenge to engage mobile consumers and direct ad dollars to high-impact formats in brand-safe automated mobile private marketplaces

Fourth Annual Global Mobile Survey reveals that brand direct buyers lead in mobile innovation; intend to spend more on mobile native and mobile video ad formats in location-enabled mobile apps.

Research from ExchangeWire Research, in association with Rubicon Project (NYSE:RUBI), has found that brands are focusing their advertising budgets on high-impact mobile native and video campaigns executed in mobile apps (where consumers now spend more than two hours per day[1]). The research has also found that brand direct buyers are increasingly purchasing the lion’s share of this mobile media in “brand safe” automated private marketplaces, which make it easy for them to buy mobile inventory at scale across hand-picked, premium mobile app inventory.

Conducted over the past three months across hundreds of mobile media buyers and media sellers, the fourth annual global mobile advertising survey found that native advertising is the most favoured by more than half of brand direct mobile media buyers. Agency-based media buyers lag behind their brand counterparts with only 42% favouring native advertising formats (a 32% increase year-over-year).

Meanwhile, all buyers in APAC, North America, and LATAM predicted that their spend on mobile video advertising would increase in 2016, and 90% of buyers In EMEA agreed. Globally, buyers indicated a 21% year-over-year decline in demand for standard mobile banners, suggesting that advertisers are looking to engage users with more personalised, engaging and contextually integrated messaging.

Globally, brand-direct media buyers are also purchasing the largest amount of location-enabled inventory; with one third reporting that between 81%-100% of their mobile ad buys were location enabled in 2015. This rises to three-quarters of brand-direct mobile ad buyers who predict that 81%-100% of their mobile ad buys will be location-enabled in 2016, compared to 27% of agency mobile ad buyers.


  • More than a quarter (28%) of agency-side media buyers predict spending more than 41% of their mobile advertising budget on native formats
  • A bullish 29% of buyers indicating that they expect to spend more than 41% of their mobile budget in mobile private marketplaces (PMPs) vs. a conservative 29% of respondents who report no intention to invest via PMPs in 2016 
  • More than half of media buyers (57%) in APAC stated that 50% or more of the inventory they bought in 2015 was location-enabled, the highest figure in all of the markets surveyed. 
  • More than a third (36%) of media sellers in APAC report that video formats are the most in-demand 

 A recent Boston Consulting Group Report found that mobile is the fastest-adopted technology of all time, garnering three billion connections since 2000. The simultaneous rise of automated (or “programmatic”) advertising has created a new $10 Billion industry by simplifying the media buying process and streamlining the execution of advertising campaigns across the 3.17[2] billion digital consumers – and billions of daily digital media impressions – worldwide.

Nick Graham, Global Digital Director at Huawei Technologies commented: “Native ad formats certainly deserve more credit.  For ages there’s been a lot of industry attention on programmatic generally, but this has often been at the expense of specific questions like effectiveness – especially when it comes to standard formats like banners. This research validates what a lot of marketers suspect.”

Lara Izlan, Director, Programmatic Trading and Innovation at Auto Trader UK commented: ““At Auto Trader, we developed a cross-platform, integrated or "native" ad format that puts the advertiser's message directly into the focus area of users - offering a great opportunity to influence the right audience, at the right time, within the most engaging and highest traffic area of our site, regardless of the device.”

Rebecca Muir, head of research and analysis at ExchangeWire Research said: “It is highly probable that the rise in popularity of custom, native ad units is because these ad formats allow advertisers to be more creative within the ad unit and foster deeper engagement with consumers, therefore, they produce better results.”

Finally, analysis of the adoption of automated (or “programmatic”) mobile private marketplaces (PMPs) reveals a split of the brand direct media buyers into two groups: “early adopters” (50%) who invest over 80% of their mobile advertising budget with PMPs (which group grew by 100 percent since 2015); and “laggards” (50%) who only invest between 1% and 20% of their budgets in these channels.

This extreme divide and rapid surge in adoption of PMPs suggests that big brand buyers are leveraging their buying power to negotiate PMP deals with premium publishers; while other more direct–response-focused brands continue to see value in the open exchange model.

“The adoption of mobile private marketplaces is clearly a driving force in advertising today across all markets, with brands selecting the most premium publishers and app developers to execute private deals at scale,” said Joe Prusz, SVP and Global Head of Mobile for Rubicon Project. “This shift, along with the rise of location data and the adoption of high-impact formats like mobile native and mobile video has made mobile advertising more than one quarter of all transactions in our global exchange.”

Agency-based media buyers are transacting more of their ad spend through PMPs, but the percentage of this spend lags behind brands. Legacy relationships between agencies and publishers might explain the disparity in PMP spend.

ExchangeWire Research surveyed 300 digital marketing professionals from around the world. Information about the online survey was emailed to ExchangeWire’s subscriber base of digital technology and marketing professionals, and promoted online via the ExchangeWire website, Twitter and LinkedIn during December 2015 and January 2016. Furthermore, ExchangeWire Research interviewed four senior marketing and technology professionals.

/ Ends

About Rubicon Project

Rubicon Project’s mission is to keep the Internet free and open and fuel its growth by making it easy and safe to buy and sell advertising. Rubicon Project pioneered advertising automation technology to enable the world’s leading brands, content creators and application developers to trade and protect trillions of advertising requests each month and to improve the advertising experiences of consumers.

Rubicon Project is a publicly traded company (NYSE: RUBI) headquartered in Los Angeles, California.

About ExchangeWire and ExchangeWire Research

ExchangeWire tracks global data-driven and programmatic advertising, media buying trends, and the ad tech and mar tech sectors. Delving deep into the business of automated media trading and the technology that underpins it across multi-channels (online display, video, mobile, and social), the site aims to keep readers up to date on all the latest news and developments.

ExchangeWire provides opinion and analysis on the following sector companies: specialist media buyers, ad traders, ad networks, media agencies, publishers, data exchanges, ad exchanges and specialist ad tech providers in the video, mobile and online display markets.

Reflecting the growing prominence of programmatic advertising, in 2014 ExchangeWire launched a new company division - ExchangeWire Research - to help marketers better understand how it fits into the wider marketing mix.

Conceived by Ciaran O’Kane, CEO of ExchangeWire and Rachel Smith, COO of ExchangeWire, ExchangeWire Research is led by online marketing and data expert Rebecca Muir. The unit uses its proprietary technology and unique industry data sets to offer global data and insight on the marketing technology, advertising technology and programmatic advertising sectors.

[1] Source: Flurry via eMarketer (

[2] Source: