Much of the growth in mobile video has been driven by the YouTube generation – some 40% of all YouTube's traffic comes from tablets and smartphones now – and that trend shows no signs of stopping. While that's great for YouTube, it's not so great for the marketers that desperately want to reach that audience, but are either unwilling or unable to take advantage of the myriad mobile video platforms that deliver said audience on a silver platter. To illustrate, many of the top-ranked apps in the Apple App/Google Play stores have the ability to deliver broader reach than a primetime airing of ESPN’s SportsCenter!
To those of us steeped in digital, the thought of ignoring or undervaluing the mobile video opportunity in favor of TV might sound a bit outlandish, but it's still par for the course with a disproportionate number of brands. And one of the most powerful examples of this missed opportunity came up during a conversation with Greg Goodfried, an agent in the United Talent Agency's digital practice.
"It's clear that the buy side hasn't quite figured out the value of the mobile video audience – otherwise, we wouldn't have had blank screens on tablets and phones during the ad breaks in Sochi," he says, referencing the fact that there were multiple instances during NBC's broadcast of the winter games that featured full-load ad breaks on TV, but "just a blank screen" at the same exact time while streaming the games through the mobile app.
This disparity between TV and mobile video ads didn't happen every time, but it occurred often enough during Sochi to be noticeable – and often enough to stand out as a clear example of the disconnect between how brands are trying to reach their audiences when they're in "lean back" entertainment mode, and how those audiences are actually consuming content.
The best-case scenario for a Sochi advertiser – or any brand running a TV campaign aimed at that coveted 18-34 year-old demographic – would have been to target that same audience with mobile video.
Synchronizing campaigns between TV and mobile should be the norm, but it's far less prevalent than it could be. Given Greg's experience brokering online video deals in the past – he was the cofounder of EQAL, the company behind the Kraft Foods-sponsored “Real Women of Philadelphia” web series – I wanted to know his thoughts on what the greatest barrier was. Not surprisingly, it came down to metrics and marketplace education.
"With TV, you have all this underlying research and data from Nielsen, and I think buyers still just don't have enough data that shows who's watching and the impact that mobile video has on things like purchase intent," he says. "For a while, mobile ads were synonymous with these banners that were small and ugly and did nothing to convey the brand message. Mobile video is definitely maturing at a much faster rate than mobile banners, but there's still that learning curve."
On our end, we're continuously educating clients about the benefits of having synchronous TV and mobile video campaigns, and we’ve worked with Nielsen to study the ad effectiveness of mobile video relative to online and TV, drawing comparisons to Nielsen norms with clear results.
Research like the IAB's mobile video buying guide and eMarketer's mobile video report should also serve to bolster buy-side confidence, but, at the end of the day, the stats on mobile video's growth alone should carry enough gravitas to influence the media-buying mentality. From streaming Netflix on iPads, to watching Vevo on smartphones, the YouTube generation is watching more mobile video than ever – and influencing every other demographic and psychographic the process. That doesn't mean abandoning TV is the way to reach them, but it does mean that mobile video should be part of the conversation and media mix from the onset.