What Screens May Come: The Rise of Mobile Video Marketing

Topics: Social, Digital


Reading Time: 4 minutes

Something funny occurred to me as I was grocery shopping the other day. I was standing in the produce aisle, thinking about my purchases and trying to remember what it was that I had forgotten on my grocery list with respect to a recipe I’d intended to cook that night.

Rather than languishing in confusion, I opened Facebook, searched Tasty – Buzzfeed’s food channel – and pulled up the video I’d watched earlier that morning.

Instantaneously, thanks to the power of data and an LTE connection, the video began with a warm cutting board and one cup of fresh basil to be chopped.

Basil. That’s what I needed. How perfectly mundane!

In that moment of ease, it occurred to me that I couldn’t have watched that video as early as three years ago. For one thing, I wouldn’t have had the data speed. For another, it’s not likely the video would have existed, especially not packaged for mobile devices. I would have had to look up the recipe some other way – or prepare my video-sourced meal incorrectly.

I realized that mobile video is finally having its moment, and that inspired me to look at it a little bit more closely. Here’s what I learned.

More adults are using smart devices than ever before, and that trend is set to continue.

The increasing popularity of mobile video and the growing affinity that advertisers and brands have toward it makes a lot of sense when we consider just how salient mobile device usage has become.

According to Pew Research Center’s report on smartphone use in 2015, “64 percent of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind”. These devices are particularly popular among millennials and centennials (adults born between 1982 and 1998), who are recently coming into their buying power and influencing market trends. In part because of young consumers, and in part because more affordable devices are increasing access on a global scale, that trend is set to continue.

This alone would make a powerful case for mobile video’s growing popularity, but other factors further justify mobile video’s growth: chief among them is the fact that, for many consumers, the mobile device represents the primary expressway through which they access the internet, another trend that is likely to grow in ubiquity as mobile devices offer more sophisticated experience and web content is tailored crafted to be seamlessly responsive across platforms.

Video is one of the fastest growing areas in mobile ad spending.

Keen to take advantage of shifting attention in the market, advertisers are moving toward the inclusion of mobile video in their digital advertising strategy. Though the mobile video space is still regularly young in the grand scheme of all things marketing and advertising, 2015 saw an 80.6 increase in spending on mobile advertising and, according to an Emarketer research report, that number is expected to see double-digit growth within the next three years.

That advertisers are quickly becoming attracted to mobile video should come as no surprise when one considers not only the ubiquity of mobile devices, but also the sheer amount of attention that they command.

While consumers might give a television ad some of their attention while multitasking, and while desktop users are increasingly likely to employ ad-block software, people who watch video on their mobile devices are so captivated that many report watching video on mobile to be their sole activity 58 percent of the time – painting a clear picture of where advertisers can look to get the best understanding of their ROI.

Democratization of video production technology is making social video ubiquitous.

In the past, the ability to produce video content was limited by prohibitive cost and selective availability of hardware and software. Now, however, highly popular smartphones are coming pre-installed with video editing software and high-definition 4K recording capability. This means that, in theory, a vast amount of people can and will produce videos of a certain quality for personal and public use.

As social media algorithms change to show users more of what they want – which, according to Facebook, is user-generated content – users are more likely to watch videos produced by people they consider to be their peers. While on the surface this might seem to put advertisers at a disadvantage, savvy brands will recognize opportunities to pursue more organic video influencer marketing campaigns.

Democratized video production represents a possible advantage for marketers and advertisers seeking to make real impact on social platforms with a clear return on investment. While the value of celebrity endorsements are proving to be inversely proportional to their cost, and while the influencer marketing space could certainly use checks and balances to make sure that advertisers are really getting their money’s worth, a Digital Intelligence Today report shows that 92 percent of customer trust word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know over traditional mobile ads. There remains a great deal of untapped value in understanding peer groups and creating multi-channel experiences that build brand advocates.

More sophisticated mobile advertising experiences are coming.

You, and me, and everyone we know aren’t the only folks who will be making videos for distribution on mobile phones, of course. As mobile video becomes more attractive to advertisers, big players are likely to enter the space and bring a higher level of content quality to go with their bigger budgets. We’re likely to see these big players pick up what independent filmmakers have done and polish it for wide, lucrative distribution.

Fortunately, while large advertising firms are likely to enter the mobile space, it’s not likely that they’ll resign themselves to traditional advertising models. A general sense of malaise where ads as we know them will drive big brands away from the common “sales pitch” ads that hope to drive clicks, and instead we’ll see more legitimately useful, moving, experiential content that is memorable and informative. If advertisers are smart, they’ll create seamless experiences that quietly address the widespread practice of blocking ads by building experiences that make people want to stick around.

One of our own clients, Durham Ranch, is already exploring experiential the possibilities mobile video with its social recipe videos:


Mobile video represents an opportunity for brands to reach consumers in new, exciting and valuable ways – but brands shouldn’t take their newfound ability to captivate eyes exclusively for granted. As advertisers spend more money and seek higher returns on their investment, they should think carefully about how to add valuable experiences to their customers lives so that customers are eager to view ads rather than irritated by them.

Striking a careful balance between product sales and experiential mobile advertising may provide a challenge, but the returns will be well worth it for those brands who use the small screen to secure big advantages as this trend grows.

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