Coull Interview Native Insights PubNative

Native Insights #5: Coull Interview

Following Native Insights #4 in which we spoke to digital marketers Cyberclick, this time we are tackling the video ad space with Michelle Bommer from Coull.

The British company are a video ad platform for advertisers and media companies. For more info on video, you can also read our guide on what you need to know about native video on mobile.

Can you introduce Coull and what you do?

We are a young, talented team building the next generation video advertising platform. We work with publishers to classify, filter and monetize their video inventory, by providing a direct route to the platforms used by advertisers who want that inventory for their ad campaigns.

We have some awesome, unique propositions such as our exclusive in-video overlay ad format which is really powerful, especially when combined with our pre-roll, giving advertisers the opportunity for deeper engagement, brand uplift and audience data.

The really exciting thing about Coull right now is that we are cleaning up the programmatic marketplace, to make it transparent which means a safer, more efficient, reliable and profitable digital ecosystem. We’re building a sustainable digital exchange from within our own technology stack.

We’re redefining what ‘quality’ inventory is because for our partners, quality means being able to buy video inventory that’s brand safe, viewable and human. We enable this and provide RTB feedback and have a dedicated team to optimize campaigns.

How much of a difference is there between desktop and mobile video advertising?

There is a big difference between the way audiences interact with video content depending on device. Metrics like CTR don’t work the same way on desktop and mobile, and audience behaviour across those interfaces is very different. For example, a view through rate would be more suitable for a mobile or in-app video ad campaign because the video takes up most of if not all of the screen, however on desktop the video may only take up a portion of the screen and the viewer may have multiple tabs open, competing for their attention.

The big difference we’re seeing right now is that mobile is today where desktop was 1 or 2 years ago. Programmatically it’s exploding, but in terms of measurement optimization, the industry is not there yet. There is a lot of work to be done, but the potential for massive growth is undeniable. In terms of mobile’s capacity in programmatic – 2016 is the year of mobile!

What kind of demand are you seeing across the three formats of desktop, mobile and in-app for video ads? And how do you expect this to change?

At the moment our network receives around 54 bn ad requests a month and it’s growing rapidly because mobile is coming into its own. Our ability to provide a unique ad format in our overlay means that for advertisers across desktop, mobile and in-app, there is the opportunity to combine pre-roll with branded in-video overlay so we’re seeing demand across the spectrum.

The issue at the moment is that the majority of publishers still have VAST and it’s not until they adopt VPAID inventory that the scale is going to grow immensely.

For publishers it’s a matter of investing in some development work to make their content VAST compatible, but once this investment is made, they will see a huge increase in CPMs because their mobile traffic will much more easily and effectively monetized.

How have you seen the mobile video landscape developing in recent years?

Mobile video used to be a big unknown for advertisers. They wanted to be in it, but saw it as a black hole of spend without metrics. Now supply partners such as ourselves have baked in support for brand and verification vendors. This allows advertisers to work out their campaign costs, and buy with confidence.

In which circumstances do you think mobile video advertising is best suited?

Mobile video is another form of publisher inventory but it’s incredibly engaging and popular with audiences, especially Millennials. There are plenty of statistics that show the massive growth and popularity in video and it’s only natural that advertising spend should shift with that trajectory.

According to a study from IAB last year, video is on the rise with 35% of respondents viewing content on mobile devices. Consumption was even higher in the US (50%), Canada (42%), New Zealand (42%), South Africa (42%), and the UK (40%).

Video is the new storytelling medium and the only circumstance in which mobile advertising would not be suited is if the inventory itself wasn’t brand safe, or was coming from a fraudulent source. That’s why at Coull we are hot on transparency, using our own tech to detect viewability and bot fraud and we have a compliance team to ensure our inventory is brand safe.

We believe publishers deserve to be compensated for content, and that advertisers should have the chance to buy quality inventory, so that’s what we facilitate with our platform. In terms of whether that inventory is in-app or mobile web, we are seeing fantastic performance in-app but suitability wise, they both have the potential to take video to that next level. It’s not a matter of mobile advertising not being suitable, it’s a matter of ensuring the format doesn’t disrupt the content. And that’s where we will see big changes in the coming 12-18 months with the development of new and engaging ad formats.

What kind of metrics are available for measuring user engagement with videos? What are the main mobile video KPIs?

Being able to measure engagement and campaign ROI requires data and there’s a reason data scientists are in high demand. It is no longer acceptable to use the same metrics used in standard digital advertising to access video advertising, or to assume a floor price. The inventory is different and the user engages with it very differently. We now have metrics for mobile video such as view through (mentioned previously) which is a far more indicative than CTR because it allows us to report whether the content was watched all the way through, not just if it was clicked on.

It’s also important for advertisers to choose whether they buy click-to-play inventory that gives a much better chance to measure engagement and viewability.

What kind of role is data playing in video advertising on mobile?

Being able to measure engagement and campaign ROI requires data and there’s a reason data scientists are in high demand.Data enables advertisers to buy with confidence – confidence in user targeting, category segmentation, as well as ensuring that the environment is brand safe & fraud free.

When we’re talking specifically about mobile, there is location data which feeds the advertiser the IP location of the device to enable better targeting. But following this is the question of how accurate this data is? So, whilst it’s great that data is playing a big part in improving programmatic, we need to keep the standard of this data high, and ensure transparency whilst ensuring that non personally identifiable data is the only type collected.

How do you expect the mobile video space to develop in the next few years?

Mobile video is only going to get more and more popular with people consuming video on the move, and while interacting with ‘omniscreens’. You no longer watch the TV without a second screen close at hand so we will see full length TV commercials purposed for mobile, and will see more engaging formats enter the space as the industry gets more creative in competing with ad blockers.

Ad fraud, transparency, viewability and brand safety, the big buzzwords in desktop advertising now will quickly need to be addressed on mobile as well, and native advertising will be one area that grows rapidly because as a format, it’s already ahead of the game in regard to these issues.

Michelle Bommer from Coull
Michelle Bommer leads the Coull Ad Ops team from beautiful San Francisco, California, delivering in-video overlay and pre-roll advertising campaigns across mobile and desktop inventory. She has been an integral part of Coull’s growth and development with her knowledge and experience with programmatic campaigns, yield optimization, and account management. She heads up a talented team of people who deliver the benefits of Coull’s proprietary tech.
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