Freedom to Roam: How Marketers Can Make the Most of Mobile Video

David SimutusNo other area of video advertising have evolved as quickly as mobile, but in the early days it was something of a mess as the industry lacked standards and the goal-posts seemed to move on a monthly basis. Thankfully, things are improving in spite of the fact that there are still many potential pitfalls for marketers. Here David Simutis, Product Marketing Manager at Sizmek, provides some practical tips that marketers can apply to ensure smooth delivery of their mobile video campaigns.

Mobile has liberated video. No longer confined to the living room TV or desktop computer, it is free to roam with consumers, carried around via mobile devices that are always to hand. Such constant accessibility is driving a dramatic rise in consumption — last year UK mobile video usage grew over 40 percent, and in 2016 it will rise a further 34 percent.

And where the audience goes, marketers will follow. Research from the IAB shows that video ad spend on mobile grew 98% in 2015 alone — climbing to a colossal £353 million, as marketers sought to capitalise on the draw of video on the move. Yet as astute marketers will be all too aware, big budgets are not enough to guarantee maximum advertising appeal; content must also be engaging and appropriate.

So, what can marketers do to ensure their campaigns make the most of mobile video?

Utilise bit-by-bit delivery

Mobile users expect speed and ultimate efficiency as standard — especially when it comes to video. A recent study of iPhone users found that 60 percent of viewers would abandon a video if it takes more than 15 seconds to load, and 19 percent would only wait five seconds.

To maintain stability in the mobile environment, marketers need to deploy a bit-by-bit approach. Tools such as MPEG-DASH, which enables bitrate streaming of high-quality video, and HTTP Live Stream (HLS) — an adjustable streaming service by Apple — enable marketers to provide uninterrupted viewing. Delivering videos in small bits, these tools instantly adapt bandwidth usage to keep video quality strong.

Entice users to interact

Consumers use their mobile devices for everything from finding local restaurants to heating their home, and with so many options vying for their attention, clicking on a video is not instinctive — users need to be inspired.

Marketers must make sure their ads contain a clear call to action. Effective methods include enticing messages that hint a specific offering will be revealed when the video is viewed, or using an obvious clickable button instead of underlined text — particularly important if campaign performance will be measured on click-through rates (CTR).

Deliver ads in all shapes and sizes

There was a time when interactive mobile video was restricted to social-share buttons, but developments in smart tech have made screens bigger and more varied. More space and greater functionality has opened up a wealth of new opportunities for marketers to creative highly interactive, rich media video content.

The question is: how can marketers ensure their video ads reach all mobile devices without distortion? The answer is to use tools such as HTML5 VPAID, that can serve any interactive video —from pre-roll to post-roll — intact, to whichever device or screen it reaches.

Allow for device player peculiarities

Certain mobile devices have their own unique video player through which all content must be run, whether it is intended for that player or not.

This is a headache for advertisers, as even videos delivered via HTML5 VPAID may lose some elements, such as their interactivity. Marketers therefore need to be adaptable in their choice of ad serving mechanism and save extra costs by delivering ads via HTML5 VPAID to devices that accept it, and switching to VAST where they do not.

Personalise videos with dynamic creative 

Akin to any other content medium, an individually tailored video is far more likely to engage a user than an ad delivered at random. Technologies such as dynamic creative allow marketers to serve a myriad of video clips to different audiences based on their relevance to a particular consumer.

With each video, marketers must ensure they highlight the value they are providing, such as through the use of an exclusive clip, coupon or white paper. Videos should make this benefit transparent with concise copy, as well as linking it back to the brand by keeping its name in-view.

Keep ads quiet

Mobile devices are used everywhere — at home, work and play — and as most video players are programmed to play content automatically, this can turn quiet web surfing into a surprisingly noisy intrusion.

Consequently, audio should be automatically switched off no matter where video ads are served. Marketers need to ensure their video content is intriguing enough to pique user interest in mute, while still offering users the option of turning audio on or enabling closed captions — a technique that not only minimises disruption, but also captures user attention if their device is on silent.

Apply desktop methods for ad length

Desktop and mobile may be worlds apart, but there is one advertising principal that applies to both — appropriate duration. While 30-second ads are fine for long-form content, short-form video ads should be no more than 15 seconds.

In out-stream content like games, interstitial video ads can be disruptive to mobile users whatever their length, and so should remain short, succinct, and skippable.

Liberated from the restrictions of static tech, video is only just beginning to flex its muscles as a major force of mobile entertainment. But as marketers rush to join consumers in their enthusiasm for on-the-go content, they must remember that new environments have their own unique considerations. The big, lengthy and high-resolution ads that worked for TV and desktop just won’t cut it on smaller screens. To make the most of mobile, marketers need to create flexible, personalised and unobtrusive ads, built for a new age of limitless viewing.

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