Did you watch a mobile video today? Chances are the answer to that question is yes. Four-out-of-five mobile users  watch online videos. Further, according to comScore’s 2014 U.S. Mobile App Report, consumers spend 60% of daily digital media time on their mobile devices. As mobile use continues its steady-growth, this proliferation means a shift in advertising spend for brands. A recent eMarketer report estimated that brands will spend $2.6 billion on mobile video ads in 2015—an increase of more than 70% over 2014.

When industry folks—advertisers and publishers, both—talk about mobile video, it means different things to different people. The common thread is that not all mobile video ads are created equal. Read on to get an overview of what formats are out there and our honest assessment of each type.

Premium: In-Stream Video Ads

As its name suggests, in-stream video advertisements are premium video ad content that appear directly before video clips or as a commercial break either within an app or mobile publisher from top-tier digital media-first companies. Ideal for brand advertisers who want to be associated with an immersive and engaging experience in a safe environment, the content in these ads are either long- or  short-form and professionally produced for users watching on-the-go. While the ads are top quality and displayed up to HD (depending on current network conditions), the inventory is still relatively scarce due to content rights management — this results in a higher CPM. Depending on the budget and goals, an in-stream video ad still might be the best pick for a mobile advertising campaign as these ads garner high completion rates, often 90%+.

Middle of the Road: Interstitial Video Ads

In between game levels, at app launch or in transitional screens within highly trafficked apps, interstitial video apps are served to users for 15-seconds. This format is available in both forced view and skippable styles; the preferred format depends on whether an advertiser’s KPI is video completion (forced view) or ad engagement (skippable). It is true that the user experience with interstitial is not as ideal as in-stream, but it is still an immersive experience, serving HD quality video (with the right mobile partners).

Finally, because a publisher can serve it as a standalone—without its own video content— these ads can be placed in many more apps. With a greater reach and lower CPM than in-stream, interstitial has a better price effectiveness for brands looking to raise awareness. A warning to advertisers and publishers alike: make sure the user experience isn’t hampered by the placement of the ad or the campaign will not be effective!

Best Bang For The Buck: In-Banner/Native Video Ads

The most cost-effective solution for advertisers, in-banner or native video ads are placed in a display, native, or pop-up ad experience, often as a user scrolls down. Becoming the most abundant—but also considered less premium, as it only fills part of the mobile screen—this inventory is becoming increasingly more common in mobile web environments. A lot of companies are growing in this space helping publishers create video value in their mobile environments where none existed before. The main benefits here are the mass quantity available since any publisher with a mobile site can employ these units, and ability to target users programmatically in a cheap and efficient fashion that goes beyond just banners. The down side is the video quality tends to be much worse and the ads, if not integrated appropriately, can be highly intrusive in some circumstances or hardly noticeably in the others.

Settling Up The Differences

In addition to the differing pros and cons of each unit, a major industry problem is they sometimes get lumped together as simply “mobile video.” Advertisers may think they are buying one thing, but getting another. Conversely, publishers with higher value mobile video inventory are having to sell their ad space at similar prices as less premium inventory since advertisers often don’t know the difference.

Our advice to the advertiser: make sure to ask what kind of mobile video you are getting so that it aligns with your campaign goals. To the publisher: make sure to place the appropriate type of video ad within your content and make sure you are working with partners that are