What Does Native Mobile Video Content Look Like?

Mobile Video advertising is becoming increasingly sophisticated as advertisers and brands work to reach a growing audience of video obsessed consumers.  Advertisers are innovating and adapting traditional mobile advertising models to deliver a more intuitive, native mobile video experience.  But the most popular mobile video advertising formats remain those which are adapted from the traditional models of TV and Desktop advertising.    Content based on these formats is not native to the smart screens in the hands of most Australians.  So what would it take to develop native mobile video content?

A native is someone who speaks the language of a place and engages intuitively with its physical and social structures.

Native Social Advertising is so tightly integrated to the features of a social media platform, that it appears to be belong there; ie. to be native.  Native Social Advertising speaks the same language, looks and acts the same and blends in with the native content.  A Native app is one that’s designed for the device on which its installed and interacts directly with its core functions like calendar and maps.  It speaks the language of the device and engages directly with its features.  By extension, a Native Mobile Video would be designed and created with the device in mind, speaking its language and engaging with its core features.  If a mobile video experience were truly native, it would be designed – from the start – with a smart, interactive, personal, mobile, location aware, touch screen device in mind.  In short, it would look quite different to the kinds of mobile video advertising we largely see today.

With 72% of Australian Smartphone owners now watching video on their device we are facing a revolution in the way consumers engage with digital information.  It’s early days for this nascent industry, but advertisers globally have already recognised the potential of video advertising on mobile devices and are leaping into the fray.  According to the IAB, video advertising in Australia grew 76% to reach $196 million during the 2014 financial year and reports suggest mobile video ads can achieve as much as 3 times the click through rate of as standard mobile ads.

To date innovation has largely focused on extending existing rich media offerings and building interactivity into video advertising. Video ads are now played automatically within a banner as an enticement to click. Often an ad will expand seamlessly on click to play the video.  Facebook’s video ads play silently until clicked, when they restart with audio.  Within the Facebook context, video ads have the added advantage of Facebook’s reach, and the platform is already a familiar environment for consuming video content. That said, customers are increasingly comfortable with video content on mobile devices, and these early advances from Facebook may be leading to lifts in performance and increased acceptance of video ads across all platforms.

It may seem like mobile is ‘just another screen’, but size is not the only differentiator of mobile screens over previous form factors.

With mobile devices often promoted as the 4th screen (the first three being cinema, TV and PC), it may seem like mobile is ‘just another screen’.  But size is not the only differentiator of mobile screens over previous form factors.  Perhaps most importantly, mobile and tablet screens are interactive; the touch screen environment suggests engagement rather than passive viewing.  Video Content in a pre-roll context is most commonly repurposed from a TV or Desktop campaign.  It is often big budget, high definition content that is designed for TV rather than smartphone or tablet.  The TV context is passive; an environment in which customers ‘lean back’ and enjoy being entertained.  TV advertising is designed with the idea of entertaining a passive viewer, so when a TV ad is repurposed to an interactive, touch screen environment it lacks the interactivity that customers have come to expect in that context.  By creating a canvas that is applied over the top of an existing video, advertisers are discovering they can build new and engaging interaction into their previously flat TV style content.  This kind of interactive mobile video is where we see a lot of the latest innovation in mobile video advertising.

With Interactive Video, existing productions can be refreshed to achieve more impact in a mobile environment.  A tap, swipe or other user action could initiate further content, deliver polls, connect with the viewer’s calendar, launch rich media graphics or ask users to respond in some other way to the ad.  To date interactive video techniques are most commonly applied to existing made-for-TV content, but the real opportunity lies in developing unique, made-for-mobile video that has the interaction built into the original content design.

.. the real opportunity lies in developing unique, made-for-mobile video that has interaction built into the original content design.

A native mobile video ad experience would be optimised up-front for interaction and engagement.  To be truly native, a mobile video ad would maximise the potential of an interactive touch screen and be designed with a connected, engaged, viewer in mind. By extension, a native ad experience would not only be interactive, it would be optimised for viewing on a variety of screens, in multiple contexts.  With mobile viewing on the rise, video ads should generally be designed for the smaller form factor first, and with consideration for the time-critical nature of mobile viewing. It’s also worth noting that in the not too distant future we’ll be creating premium advertising content around a home without a traditional TV.  Instead we will be creating for a variety of different sized, interactive, and largely smart screens.

So how can advertisers maximise the opportunities presented by mobile video, and become early innovators in this field?  Primarily, advertisers and brands need to create mobile video content from the ground up, with the device and screen context in mind up front.  Advertisers can create mobile video content that responds to viewers and adjusts to suit their context.  Supporting content should allow viewers to connect further with the video and be seamlessly integrated so that viewers can comfortably move beyond the lean-back experience to respond and interact.

Mobile Video has the potential to drive adoption of better campaign integration, in which the mobile video is part of a broader package of extended content that becomes accessible through further engagement.  In an integrated campaign, content would seamlessly adapt as it follows a customer between screens, contexts and locations.   Understanding screen context is increasingly going to be important for successful integrated campaigns.   Different screens require different approaches.  Instead of creating video for TV, then re-purposing it down the chain, we can start by asking ourselves what the preferred screen is for our particular audience, in the specific context that we hope to reach them.  From there we can understand the consumption and engagement habits around that preferred screen and build a campaign that speaks like a native – to a native.  Many of the customers we are trying to engage with are Digital Natives, and if we are not speaking the language of their devices, we won’t be understood.


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