Mobile Video: A Primetime Opportunity for Advertisers


ADOTAS — The mobile video audience is growing rapidly: According to Yankee Group, 2014 will see mobile video viewing levels equal to those of PCs. This is due to better devices, faster networks, and affordable data plans, which enable people to consume video content on the go.  Yankee also predicts that mobile video viewing by some measures will begin to approach that of TV and DVR.

Mobile video is proving to be an extremely effective channel for advertisers for reaching and engaging with their target audiences.  Mobile is a very personal medium and it makes sense that a device that’s literally seven inches from a consumer’s face will yield high engagement.  The single-task nature of mobile provides very focused engagement and enables the consumer to immediately take action.  But, it has to be done right — the ad must be targeted and relevant.  Mobile as a medium provides targeting capabilities that are simply not available in offline broadcast, and advertisers need to take advantage of what the medium has to offer.

The powers behind traditional TV advertising planning and buying, a powerful collective that bring in over $200 billion annually, may not like reading what they are about to read: Mobile video advertising is an exponentially better video ad medium than television. Let’s look at the facts.

Does Size Matter?

Many advertisers believe screen size is an obstacle to a satisfying video experience. Talking about the size or the resolution of videos and displays only makes sense in conjunction when viewing distance is considered. When taking into account the viewing distance at which mobile devices are used, the relative size in terms of the viewing ratio – the quotient of distance and screen height  – is NOT different from those in a home or PC TV setting. Even more importantly, on mobile you have a more focused user compared to the digital or traditional TV video viewer. Research by Boff & Lincoln shows that visual acuity decreases as viewing distance increases – so for close viewing distances a user’s awareness and judgment is at its maximum. While science has just begun to broach the subject of visual acuity and its correlation with mental cognition, it can be inferred that better acuity will equal clearer cognitive consumption of media. This of course makes a great scientific case for mobile video advertising and for those who say (screen) size matters.

The Gospel of Aesthetics

Naturally all of this cool science means nothing if the video ad is delivered in a grainy slow, buffering, wrong bit-rate kind of way. Encoding, resolution and bit-rate must be delivered to the right devices at right time. Proper encoding of video (MP4 in most cases) and dynamic resolution should ensure optimal use of mobile video players and screen resolutions across different devices.  A tip for those exploring video creative – target iPhone 5S users when on WiFi by taking advantage of the Retina display with beautiful HD creative. Remember: one size does not fit all so don’t try this with a 3G iPhone.

Format Selections

Mobile lends itself to many types of video formats for advertisers. The most popular both with RFPs and inventory are pre-roll and video within a rich media unit. When choosing a format for mobile video, having a full understanding of the campaign’s goal is key. For a pure awareness and brand-lift campaign, pre-roll is probably the best option. Why?  In many cases these pre-roll ads are neither consumer initiated nor skip-able, ensuring your video is seen to every user looking for the content behind your video ad.  However, most ad platforms provide inventory that will allow for both consumer initiated video and skip-enabled media. Consideration of the consumer’s environment and user experience is key to choosing the right format. A case can be made to promote a non-skip ad if the user is about to engage in long-form content (e.g., Mobile TV) versus a :30 video clip that is preceded by a :30 video ad. Rich media is a strong choice as it affords many unique options to drive video views with all of the additional engagement features that strong rich media creative allows.

Formats like rich media (and many other mobile formats) afford brands the ability to uniquely drive awareness, in combination with engagement via the consumer’s most personal digital asset: his or her smartphone and tablet. There is no doubt TV is a powerful awareness medium. However, TV lacks mobile’s ability to not only make a consumer aware, but also instantly allow the user to engage with the brand beyond the :15 or :30 second video, cementing a deeper brand/consumer bond. Beyond brand lift studies, the right mobile video measurement tools can tell a detailed story on the true impact of video ads. Understanding who (the demo), when (best time of day), where (home or away) and what (context) are all measurable with mobile video ads on a one-to-one basis.

Measuring Success

The depth of mobile video analytics opens up the door to a new generation of targeting: targeting based on data science that better informs ad platforms in real-time to create optimal lift and engagement for every penny spent. Predictive targeting systems can use thousands of data points to incrementally optimize spend and performance through models. These models not only find the right audiences, they are also robust enough to use historical data to determine the right frequency of media needed to make an audience aware and engaged. There is no guessing or shooting-in-the-dark, just strong quantitative data to inform the brand. Mobile video advertising will break new ground in media frequency modeling over the course of the next 18 months.

The crossover of data sciences will also lead mobile video advertising technology to a place that will one day inform a brand’s creative and messaging on a personal level. The ability to message different psychographic traits in different ways (i.e., a trusting personality vs. a skeptic personality) will open up for a new generation of media dissemination that is truly individualized.

Mobile Video Magic

Based on the chatter in the industry and the projections of the research and analyst firms, mobile video is poised to make many brand media plans in 2014. Staying aware of the latest in mobile advertising technology and the IAB’s best practices will give advertisers the direction needed to make a strong impact with an engaged user.  There is a tremendous opportunity for brands to tie mobile video campaigns to other media plans, finding their media mix correlation amidst TV, social, digital, and mobile channels.  It’s our obligation as marketers to ensure that advertising, regardless of the medium, meets the standards of the consumer and takes advantage of the technology available to us.


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