Mobile, Video and Advertising: It’s All About Context

Written on
May 13, 2014 
Irfon Watkins  |

ADOTAS – All across the country, trains, planes and the back seats of automobiles are filled with people snacking. But it’s not just Doritos and Hershey Bars that are being consumed. Users are gorging at record rates on video content on their smartphones and tablets.

183.8 million Americans watched 48.7 billion online content videos in the first month of 2014, according to comScore, and 15 percent of all online video hours viewed globally are now on tablets and smartphones.

From news clips to music videos, cat and baby memes, sports highlights and DIY guides, there is now video content to suit every purpose and preference. The shareability of short videos has also led to a huge increase in viewing on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.

Phones with larger screens, better video quality and the advent of 4G have all contributed to the rise in consumption of video content on mobile and tablet devices, while unlimited data usage plans and widespread public WiFi has also reduced consumer barriers to mobile and tablet video viewing.

Ninety three percent of consumers have a mobile phone, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and research agency IDC forecasts that sales of tablets and 2-in-1 devices will grow 19.4% worldwide in 2014, with 261 million unit sales expected worldwide in the calendar year.

For marketers, this presents a significant and growing opportunity to engage with consumers in places, and at times of the day that were previously off limits to them.

Video is the most engaging format on mobile and tablet devices. Advertising around this content therefore needs to be relevant, so as not to irritate or interrupt the user experience.

Native advertising formats are becoming increasingly popular and there has been a sharp rise in investment by advertisers of late, in the hopes that by producing marketing messages that mirror the form or function of editorial content, consumers are more likely to engage in it.

However, native advertising, although mirroring the form of editorial content around it, isn’t always relevant to the experience the user is having at that point in time. There are also fears that consumers, perhaps inadvertently, are clicking through to advertising thinking they are interacting with editorial. Tricking consumers into engaging with your brand by posing as editorial content, however useful that content might be, is a risky business.

Concern over the confusion native ads are causing consumers, as well as the impact on editorial integrity, has prompted the IAB to begin developing a set of best practice rules for brands adopting this approach.

A better option is therefore to embed contextually relevant ads directly into mobile video content. Someone watching a video about FIFA World Cup fixtures, for example, could be presented with an ad for plane tickets to Brazil or team shirts – extremely relevant to an avid football fan.

Users are much more likely to view and engage with an online video ad when it’s useful, timely and relevant. Ads that therefore deliver an experience that enhances the content by giving viewers information they actually want, when they want it will prove far more appealing.

Contextually relevant ads are attractive to consumers because they add value and brands don’t have to resort to tactics that could erode consumer trust.

Mobile is an incredibly personal medium and speaking to consumers on these devices that are likely to be with someone almost everywhere they go, represents a huge coup for brands. Speak to them in the right way, add value and nurture loyalty and you can be a permanent fixture on the daily commute.

Irfon Watkins is Founder & CEO of Coull. Irfon's career began when he left his homeland of Wales for London to join punk group The Groovy Pineapples. Unfortunately, the band soon split up due to artistic differences. While wondering what to do next, one of Irfon’s bandmates bet him he couldn’t get a job in computers. He borrowed a suit from the squat next door and attended an interview, where he was forced to admit he’d never seen a computer in his life. However, he still managed to win the bet, with his appetite for sales landing him a job in the sales department, from which Irfon progressed to become Sales Director at Dell.

He then moved to Florida, from where he led the acquisition and running of six software companies across Africa and Europe. Following this stint, Irfon decided that he wanted to set up his own company. He felt online video was the next great medium and that passively watching it wasn’t good enough. He wanted to reach in and find out more about what was on screen from within the video itself. It was this idea that eventually came to life as Coull.

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