Putting Mobile First: Best Practices for Mobile Video Campaigns

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By Joe Sammarco

Inspired by a discussion at TubeMogul’s Mobile Breakfast event, Audience Store investigates the world of mobile video advertising and suggests best practices for mobile video campaigns.

Mobile video use is expanding globally at an exceptional rate and digital video is rapidly becoming a key component of successful integrated marketing campaigns. Indeed, it is estimated that over two-thirds of the UK population now own a smartphone and by 2017 it is expected that average daily time spent watching digital video on mobile devices will be ‘almost double its desktop counterpart’ in the US. This demonstrates the vast scale of the mobile video market available to advertisers. Alongside this, mobile video provides a superior format for brands to quickly inform and visually entertain customers, leading to a strong platform for conversion and engagement when served programmatically.

As mobile video becomes a more central part of our lives, it is clear that mobile video advertising is becoming a more important medium for engaging with consumers both in branding and direct response campaigns. With this in mind, what should be considered when planning a video campaign for mobile devices and what are the best practices for a mobile video campaigns?



Today, mobile users engage with video content at a fast pace and are likely to scroll past adverts which do not make an impact. As such the structure of video adverts on mobile must reflect how customers use their smartphones and other mobile devices. The first 3 to 5 seconds of a video are key in grabbing a user’s attention and getting them to engage with an advert.

These first 5 seconds should include the key message of your advert and/or impactful, ‘thumb-stopping’ content to ensure a mobile user sees the brand message and interacts with or expands the video to continue watching the full content. For example, in a direct response campaign it may be an effective strategy to include the call to action both in the first 5 seconds and in its more traditional place in the final frame.



In general, mobile video ad duration should be shorter than other video ad formats and kept to a maximum of 15 seconds as customer attention decay is far quicker on mobile. However, the most effective and ideal mobile video ad length can vary by generation and by purpose of the campaign. Indeed, IAB research found that ‘while Millennials prefer 10-second ads, the communication power of 30-second ads can have an advantage among consumers 35-54, who are less sensitive to mobile ad clutter’. Furthermore, 30 second ads can have an advantage in all age groups when conveying complex information or influencing lower funnel metrics.

Therefore, it is important to develop versatile video ads which can be cut into 10 to 15 second segments for mobile devices or served at full length, depending on the demographic being targeted and their stage in the sales funnel. These shortened ad lengths must retain their core message and communication ability.



In mobile campaigns, it is important that the advertiser’s brand logo is in view for the duration of the video. This is because in a scroll-happy environment it is important to ensure the user associates the video content with the advertiser and brand awareness is increased, even if the ad is closed or skipped before a full view is completed. A subtle and unobtrusive way of doing this is to place a watermark of the brand logo in view for the duration of the video. Ensure that this is an appropriate size for the mobile screen and clearly visible while not detracting from the video ad content.



On various mobile formats, most prominently on Twitter and Facebook, videos autoplay with the sound off. In this environment, use of closed captions and vivid visual content is one way to catch the attention of users and engage them in the video ad even when it is muted. This is especially the case if sound and dialogue is a key element of the advert’s story.

Indeed, in their video guidelines Facebook suggest that ‘your video’s sound should offer additional value to viewers’. This emphasises the point that a successful mobile video ad must be created to be effective and engaging both with and without sound.



As mobile users browse and watch videos in vertical format, naturally advertisers must create vertical video ads to fit seamlessly into the mobile environment. It is important to move away from mobile formats that require the user to rotate their screen as this format interrupts the mobile online experience. Also, when viewed in portrait format wide-screen videos only use approximately 30% of the available screen. Thus, by creating vertical videos, advertisers are creating more impactful, more user friendly and less disruptive ads.

Snapchat, considered the go-to platform to reach millennials, has lead the way with vertical video ads and has stated that vertically-shot ads on the platform ‘are viewed to the end nine times more frequently than horizontal ones’. Similarly, up-and-coming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat also stream video vertically. This makes it clear that vertically-shot video is an idea to get behind to engage with millennials and heavy mobile users on new platforms.



Context and relevance remain king across all formats of digital display advertising, and customers are more likely to engage and interact with branded content if it is served in a relevant and targeted context. This is no different for mobile video campaigns, as evidenced by an IAB study from September 2015 which stated that 70% of people are happy to have mobile video ads on free content as long as it is related to what they are watching or have recently watched



In this blog we have reviewed a few best practices for planning mobile video ad campaigns. Ultimately, these considerations will differ for each campaign depending on the product, target market and key performance indicators provided. However, recognising the importance of user experience and the unique challenges and opportunities that mobile video campaigns present is clear. In an increasingly mobile-centric media landscape, mobile-first creative planning is essential for success.

What are your thoughts on the rise of mobile video? We would love to hear from you!

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