Getting Mobile Live Streaming Video Right for Advertisers, Publishers & Users

mobilevideoLive streaming mobile video and the ads that help monetize it promise to bring the excitement of live television–sports, shows, breaking news, and more–to the mobile screen, finally making TV everywhere a reality for more than just pre-recorded content. It’s an exciting time.

That said, as of today, there is not yet a mobile live streaming solution out in market that nails the all-important user/advertiser/publisher experience. Granted, it’s a delicate balancing act that requires the right strategy and most importantly, the right technology.

By iterating on what makes live TV successful and combining those best practices with the unique nature of the mobile experience, mobile live streaming has the potential to be highly effective for advertisers, profitable for publishers, and enjoyably seamless for consumers. The keys to this success are dynamic ad insertion, interactivity, and properly timed commercial breaks.

Dynamic Ad Insertion

One of the biggest challenges with mid-roll live stream advertising has a lot to do with dynamic ad insertion, or the ability to stitch ads to content in real time. Pre-roll and post-roll advertising in mobile live streaming is the easy part, where publishers can get away with clunky ad pre-stitching without interrupting content. It’s placing ads mid-content that presents the challenge. Dynamic ad insertion will allow for a seamless user experience with little to no delay between live content, mid-roll ads, and more live content.

Most importantly and unlike pre-stitching, dynamic ad insertion will allow for real time targeting based on a user’s profile. Because mobile is a uniquely personal experience, the ways consumers use their phones and tablets tell advertisers a lot about what kinds of consumers they are. On mobile, dynamic ad insertion allows advertisers to target different people with different ads, all within the same content.

This technology is highly valuable and a huge part of what makes mobile video advertising successful in pre-recorded content. Developing this technology for mobile live streaming will provide huge benefits for publishers looking to monetize, advertisers looking to target, and consumers desiring relevant ads.


Through dynamic overlays and clickable hot spots, mobile video advertisements invite the consumer to engage with a brand beyond the lean-back video ad experience. This interactivity is a big part of what makes mobile video so effective for advertisers and engaging for consumers, who are interested in learning more about their favorite brands. Unlike most mobile video advertising, mobile live streaming ads are not interactive (yet), primarily because the technology is still nascent. Once interactive, mobile live streaming ads will undoubtedly have all the same success metrics as other mobile video ads, with high completion and engagement rates in premium, live content.

Properly Timed Commercial Breaks

Since consumers tend to be tuning in to live TV for the content, not the commercials, it’s important to get back to the main event when the main event is happening. For some content, like hosted live TV shows, sports games, and certain broadcasts, the commercial breaks are carefully constructed into the schedule itself. For other content, like breaking news or just about anything out of the ordinary, streaming mid-roll advertisements without interrupting content is a bit trickier.

Mobile live streaming technology is well on its way, but by nailing dynamic ad insertion, interactivity, and properly timed commercial breaks, the technology will be exponentially more effective for publishers trying to monetize it, for advertisers trying to influence with it, and for consumers trying to enjoy it. When we get these things right, mobile live streaming will be a win all around.

Rhythm VP of business development Eugene Youn co-authored this column.

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