Thought Leadership

New Programmatic Inventory for a Mobile World

October 29, 2019
By Nina Harvey and Matt Cunha

For the first time, US consumers are spending more time using their mobile devices than watching TV. With more eyeballs on smartphones, marketers are building out their programmatic campaigns to include in-app inventory. Here’s a peek at some of the fresh programmatic mobile inventory available for buyers looking to target mobile users.

Playable ads

As more ad dollars pour into mobile, we’ll see more dynamic, interactive content and less static ads. In this arena, playable ads present a massive opportunity in mobile apps today. These ads essentially offer users a demo version of a product or service. Instead of being forced to watch an unskippable ad, they’re invited to sample a video game. The viewer is no longer a passive observer, but an active participant in the ad experience.

Both Facebook and Google’s AdMob launched playable ads for their gaming partners last year.  According to a Fyber survey, playable ads were the most effective in-app ad format, when compared to interactive or opt-in video. With playable ads’ high conversion and click-through-rates, industries outside of gaming are now harnessing their potential. 

Rewarded Video

Rewarded video ads engage viewers by providing rewards for ad-watching. While rewarded video started with game developers, it’s now caught on to other verticals. Prizes that began as “another life” or coins, have turned into exclusive access to a premium experience or service. For example, Pandora’s rewarded video ads let users unlock an on-demand listening session without having to upgrade to a premium subscription. Similarly, Spotify users can watch one rewarded video ad and receive thirty minutes of uninterrupted music.

Currently, we’re seeing measurable growth with rewarded video, particularly in the in-app environment. It’s become such a significant revenue driver for publishers that some SSPs have based their entire business model around it. Looking forward, we anticipate an increasing demand for this kind of interactive, mobile inventory. 


From streaming music apps like Spotify, TuneIn, and SoundCloud, to podcasts, to digital radio, marketers’ ears are perked at the prospects of programmatic audio. Programmatic audio inventory gives marketers the chance to reach targeted audiences in an immersive state and enhance brand recall.  On-demand audio streaming now accounts for the majority of audio consumption, with US users spending an average of 53 minutes a day listening to audio via mobile apps. 

Here, most of the recent growth has occurred in the in-app space, where marketers can reach audiences with pre-roll or mid-roll ads. Rubicon Project’s omnichannel solution ensures that buyers can include in-app audio as a piece of their comprehensive campaign strategy.

6-Second Video Ads 

With dwindling attention spans, advertisers have embraced six-second ads to match audience viewing habits. These ads exhibit “creativity within borders” — they’re shorter, snackable ads that deliver a brand message, build awareness, and don’t necessarily need audio or a full minute to tell a story.

While ESPN was one of the pioneers of the six-second format in digital, other apps have caught on. Content providers like Snapchat are now offering advertisers the opportunity to buy non-skippable, six-second ads during their premium “Snap Original” shows. Reaching users in highly engaged, short-form environments shows promise: Snapchatters are 20% more likely to make purchases on a mobile device after engaging with an ad.

Rubicon Project’s marketplace currently has 6-second ad inventory available for buyers looking to target audiences on their Smartphones.

Looking forward

With so many opportunities available in mobile, we’re just skimming the surface of innovation. Great advertising reaches audiences in a targeted, non-intrusive, and engaging way. At Rubicon Project, we’re proud to offer scalable, brand-safe mobile inventory to buyers who are looking to reach audiences where they are—on their phones. 

To learn more about our new mobile inventory, contact the Rubicon Project:

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