You may have noticed that in recent years, marketers’ predictions for the year ahead have tended to lazily offered up one word on a consistent basis: mobile. If you’ve followed the advertising industry during this time, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the past five years were all the ‘year of mobile’. In reality however, aside from all this bluster, mobile has been here to stay for a while. So it’s about time brands consolidate and consider how to really get their message across on the platform.

2015 – the year of data and video

Over the last 12 months, brands have really begun to clock onto two factors which could help significantly improve their advertising on mobile devices – the value of data, and video. In contrast with traditional desktop advertising, many have realised the value of attribution in their mobile advertising, tracking unique users as they browse the web and attempting to correlate their activity with the adverts they see. That said, it means everyone is now claiming to possess ‘magical’ data and algorithms which can help brands concentrate their activity on their target audience. If that’s the case, then what are they targeting them with?

One mode which has grown strongly in recent times is mobile video. In the hope of affording a better user experience for consumers, many brands have begun to experiment with video advertising on mobile devices, with varying degrees of success so far. The rationale behind it is not only its enhancing effect on user experience, but also the fact it gives advertisers more to work with than a conventional, text-oriented ad space. Think of it as being similar to the contrast between TV advertising and billboard advertising – the ability to get a message across is exponentially better.  This point is incredibly useful at this juncture, given that users’ ever-increasing connectivity means they demand to know more about what they are buying (prior to purchase) than ever before.

Consideration before application

So it’s time to get working on video ads? Hold your horses. Before brands dive into video production, it’s important that they take stock and consider some vital questions. What is the purpose of the video? How will it help the brand? What will it achieve? There are many considerations that need to be made before advertisers begin throwing budget at the format. Principal among those is who the advert is targeting, what message it is trying to convey, and whether it is suited to video; some messaging may be more suited to alternative formats, and financial costs may need to be considered as video production can be an expensive process.

Moreover, any video content needs to be consistent with the platform on which it is presented. In other words, it needs to form part of a holistic experience of the brand on the platform, and provide engagement consistent with its other digital assets, such as its mobile website and its app. Without this, messaging can become diluted and the impact of ads can be diminished, so before launching mobile video ads it’s advisable to make sure user experience correlates across the board.

Optimise consumption

Once an advertiser has decided to opt for mobile video, the next step is to ensure that videos are as easy to consume as possible on users’ devices. That means making them easy to play, boosting views and helping disseminate brands’ messaging further. One way to do this is by choosing the quality of the video carefully: lower-quality videos are generally more preferable, as they can be delivered over bandwidth more easily and don’t take too long to download. This decision will also have an impact on file size, which is another key consideration. If a file is too large, then the video will take too long to download and consumers will invariably navigate away from it, which loses the brand audience. Moreover, long videos will chew up lots of bandwidth on consumers’ devices, so if they go on too long they will tend to duck out to help conserve their data.

Therefore, shortened ad slots are generally more effective, offering a more incisive message without irritating the user. Conversely, it can also be helpful to provide users with the option to skip adverts on occasion. While this may seem anathema to marketers initially, it’s worth noting that actually doing so gives the user a positive experience of engagement, by giving them the option whether or not to interact. Much like YouTube ads, this encourages consumers to only view an advert when it really appeals to them, meaning that the advert is as targeted as possible.

Identified audience

In many ways, mobile video advertising is a more advisable option than TV advertising. This is because on the mobile platform brands are able to identify unique users, and as such are able to offer them tailored advertising which is both relevant and timely. This identification even extends to user preferences based on their previous activity, and is far greater than for television, where brands can’t establish exactly who and how many people are watching their advert at any given time. If anything, it highlights the ‘con’ of TV buying, which is based on loose estimations of audience figures, derived from surveying a small proportion of the population and scaling the results up to reflect the entire country.

Mobile’s advantage therefore is that it can deliver a unique and quantifiable reach which TV advertising can’t match. Not only that, but it can also deliver unique frequency. This comes from setting a cap on the number of times a video can be delivered to a consumer, and is an incredibly important tool which avoids the perennial annoyance caused to consumers by seeing an advert too regularly for their liking. When you contrast this with TV advertising for example, mobile’s user experience comes out on top by some distance.

Overall, there are numerous reasons for advertisers to consider using mobile video moving forward, especially when video inventory is traded programmatically. It not only helps serve users with an advert in a more engaging format with a richer brand message, but also means the ad is more relevant to those users and comes at a time which suits them best. In the not too distant future, brands will be able to shift their TV spend to mobile in order to capitalise on its programmatic inventory which will be enriched with verified operator data at scale. This ability to deliver commercial messages across mobile video, and utilise more refined performance data than that currently offered by TV ‘people meter auditing’, can only be of benefit to the end user. It’s time advertisers look closely at mobile video to ensure they engage with their potential customers effectively on mobile devices, both now and in the future.