Thanks to affordable mobile data subscriptions, faster mobile networks and high quality screens, our love of mobile video is growing fast. According a January 2014 report in Business Insider, 40 percent of YouTube's global traffic now comes from mobile, compared to 25 percent last year and a 6 percent two years ago. Closer to home, a March 2014 report from Irdeto revealed that 60 percent of respondents in China watch videos on-the-go, and 29 percent of them list the smartphone as their second-most preferred screen.
Video campaigns tailored for mobile devices appear to be more effective than ad campaigns through online, with click-through rates (CTRs) for mobile ads rising over time. Marketing technology company Unruly reported in late 2013 that the average CTR for mobile campaigns (13.64 percent) is almost three times that of those for desktops at 5.45 percent; and the average CTR of mobile video campaigns has increased by about 266 percent over the last four quarters, up from 4% in Q4 of 2012 to the 13.64 percent of Q3 2013.
The numbers reflect the way we now rely on mobile devices as extensions of ourselves. While all advertising enables brands to bring people and content together, video has an advantage with its rich storytelling capabilities. Mobile devices then bring the relationship further by not only letting the brand story unfold as only video can allow, but also providing a wide range of ways for viewers to interact with the video. The more audience interaction there is, the more recall there will be for the advertisement, and the further the viewer moves on the path towards favourable brand recall and potential sales conversion.
As brands have become more confident with using the mobile channel, viewers may no longer be wowed by an outstanding broadcast video that has been reformatted for a mobile device. The good news is that the technology exists for adding all kinds of calls to action today, such as social sharing or adding a calendar entry.
Dynamic ad stitching is another tool in the mobile video marketing arsenal, allowing brands to deliver a seamless, custom mobile video on-demand. The technology can serve different ads to different viewers based on the context or their attributes.
Video has done well when integrated into a larger mobile campaign. Auto maker Fiat ran a rich media campaign for the launch of the four-door Fiat 500L that included interstitial ads for both smartphones and tablets, for example. The video completion rate was nearly double the industry standard at 80 percent, and the average video play time was 31 seconds as a result of a campaign that included a photo gallery, a 360-degree view of the car, a colour-swapping feature, the video and a location-based dealership finder.
Although mobile video marketing is fast-becoming the most effective channel available to us today, it is critical to keep it short. Despite the 31 seconds cited for the Fiat campaign, Vine and Instagram videos have led to viewers with very low attention spans. As comScore’s February 2014 figures point out, the duration of the average online content video is now 4 minutes, down from 4.4 minutes in January 2014, while the average online video ad was just 0.4 minutes, or 24 seconds, for both months.
Mobile video ads are also subject to download hiccups as viewers move around and the strength of their network signal changes. The shorter the video ad, the more likely it is that it will download and be viewed in its entirety.
A second factor to consider is the length of the advertisement, which should be balanced against the length of the content viewed. Viewers are hardly going to be pleased about watching a one-minute advertisement if the video is only two minutes long. Today’s YouTube videos often offer an option to skip the video ad component after a specific time; this is one way of keeping viewers satisfied.
Additionally, marketers should study their target audience in order to serve ads that have some relevance. Those expecting to watch a video on sports cars are not likely to be enthusiastic about an ad for children’s toys.
Video remains one of the most powerful ways to tell a story, and mobile video advertising empowers brands further by offering new ways to engage with viewers. Developing a mobile video campaign does require more effort than creating something online, but the results can be outstanding.