Best Practices for Mobile Video

Mobile devices are rising in popularity, as are mobile ads trying to capture the attention of consumers. Mobile video ads allow the consumer to interact with businesses in many different ways. eMarketer has predicted mobile video ads will outperform desktop and laptop growth in the next five years. While mobile videos make up less than 1% of all mobile ad spending, over time it will grow to more than 40% of the total digital video ad spending. Since mobile video is in its early stages, there are some key considerations that marketers need to take into account when creating a mobile video campaigns:


Tablet vs Smartphones

While most video ads are being sold in cross-platform packages, consumers use mobile devices in different ways and at different times. Tablets are typically used in the evening and are viewed as a smaller version of a TV. While smartphones are available throughout the day and tend to be more engaging. For marketers that are trying to decide the advantages of one over the other smartphones have four specific advantages:

      • Far greater reach and more video ad inventory than tablets
      • Usage spread out during the whole day, rather than more focused on prime time as with tablets
      • More accurate targeting, since they tend to be more personal devices than tablets
      • Most video is full-screen, where on tablets the video runs on the web where it might not be full screen


Creative Content

Creative content that is customized for mobile devices would seem like a natural best practice. This is not the case, because of the relatively small size of the mobile video market. Customization is not always cost effective or even the first thought for a large number of marketers. A lot of times marketers will create a TV spot and use the same spot on mobile devices. This doesn’t always work out well. Some spots work well on tablets but not the smartphones because of screen size. One thing marketers have found is mobile videos that allow audiences to interact with them by touch and gesture tend to be more effective. These components need to be built into the video spots for mobile devices. In addition call-to-actions are important and should line up with the device. For example a call-to-action on a smartphone, should be short, easy to achieve, and something that somebody would be comfortable doing if they were in a public place.


Video Length

Ad length is pretty basic, but it can be a key factor in helping marketers differentiate between smartphones and tablets. Fifteen-second or less ads are much more effective than 30-second spots for capturing the user’s attention and being appropriate for the duration of time the users are willing to engage with an ad on a smartphone. Thirty-second ads that are more entertainment-focused are better suited for tablet devices.



Targeting is not only important, but crucial. There are several methods marketers can use to provide highly relevant mobile video content to consumers:

Geotargeting- This generally makes more sense for video ads on smartphones—when people are often out in the world—than on tablets, which have much greater at-home usage. The common example given for smartphone geotargeting is by retailers or restaurants that deliver video ads with a distinct call-to-action to users who are close to the establishment.

Dayparting- Daypart targeting has unique value in the mobile space, given that tablets tend to be prime-time, at-home devices, whereas smartphone usage is spread across the day.

Connection Method- Connection speed plays a critical role in the video experience. One of the biggest complaints about videos are the stoppage of play midway through the spot. A savvy marketer would deliver a different video ad to a user looking at his phone at Starbucks, even when connected via Wi-Fi, compared to when he’s at home. Marketers have to make sure that the video is something that’s going to render well on a potentially bad connection.

Apps Vs Mobile Web- Marketers will have to decide which is best for their particular client. Apps tend to have more engaged consumers while the web has higher audiences. Research from Nielsen released in March 2014 shows a strong leaning toward apps over the mobile web. In Q4 2013, US smartphone users spent 89% of their monthly time consuming media through mobile apps vs. only 11% of media time through the mobile web. Tablet users were not too different: 81% of their monthly media time was through mobile apps and 19% was via the mobile web.

One additional issue to take into account when weighing apps vs. mobile web ads is games. Games are a central setting for mobile video advertising. eMarketer estimates that more than 58% of US mobile phone users in 2014 will play games—more than those who will listen to music (33.2%), conduct searches (51.2%) or tap into social networks (50.2%).





Jason Peaslee

Jason Peaslee is the Managing Partner of Thrive Analytics, a marketing research and analytics consulting firm. His career spans more than 20 years in marketing, advertising, product development, research, and business management. Before founding Thrive Analytics in 2010, he held several senior leadership roles at AT&T, Reynolds & Reynolds, Berry Network, & The Berry Company.

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