How NOT To Fail At Mobile Video: 5 Tips

It’s very exciting to see how mobile video is taking off these days.  I’m pretty passionate about the medium, obviously, so I’m always excited to see brands launching video ads that are optimized for tablets and smart phones. I know it works, and I know they’ll see great results. Except …

Except that so many of them are doing it wrong. And they’re not just doing it a little bit wrong; they’re doing it horribly wrong. As an example, I saw a video ad for a Fortune 500 financial institution that, while beautifully made, was a full six minutes long!  Can you imagine watching an ad on your phone for six minutes? It’s a shame: What could have been 24 great video ads made for one painfully long and boring one. 

It’s with that as inspiration that I offer you the five things you should always consider when launching a mobile video campaign:

  1. Be conscious of environment – Think about how the consumer may receive your message based on the media platform.  Anything longer than 30 seconds is an eternity in mobile – 15 seconds is ideal for most brands. Follow Strunk and White’s classic Elements of Style for creating succinct, appealing writing and apply it to video creation. To quote Professor Strunk on that point, “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. That requires not that the writer make all sentences short or avoid all detail…but that every word tell.”

  2. Create great content – Great content is the key to all effective marketing, after all, and video is no exception. If your brand already has fantastic assets for TV use, consider re-using the same asset or re-purposing into a shorter ad unit for mobile video.  The ideal ad unit in mobile is 15 seconds and it should probably be most compelling within the first second or two. Consider that as you edit any existing video for mobile use. Aim to get your point across quickly and in a way that is resonant and memorable to your unique audience. 

  3. Use a reliable platform –If your video doesn’t load in three seconds or less, your audience is gone. If your video is grainy and choppy, your audience is gone and your brand equity is damaged. I can’t emphasize this enough: Evaluate platforms and make sure you’re not putting your brand at risk with slow-loading, low quality video.

  4. Placement matters – If you want to reach an audience that will actually watch your video, make sure your ads run on engaging, entertaining, long session time apps like TV viewing, video content, games and social apps.  Users in these apps are more receptive and more likely to engage with ads. (Example: If you’re delivering a 15-second ad, but it’s placed in an app where the consumer may only be in the app for a matter of seconds – search, checking scores, etc – they likely won’t be receptive to a video ad message.) Context is equally important, particularly for brands, so be equally sure your ad is running alongside content that is appropriate for your video. 

  5. Measure results – Clicks are an important macro indicator of campaign performance, but brands need to look beyond the click as a standalone measure of success. Brands should consider ad and message recall, as well as likelihood to recommend and purchase intent. Other results that should be reviewed include engagement and conversion metrics captured on the video ad’s landing page and related site.



With compelling evidence supporting mobile video advertising's effectiveness (which even tops TV and online in head-to-head comparisons), it's more important than ever to get mobile video down to a science. Consumers are overwhelmingly electing to consume content on their mobile devices, and the opportunity for brands to complement their media buys with mobile video advertising is huge. As Greg Stuart, CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association, said in a recent piece: "If I were to sum up the value of mobile to marketers it would be this: Nothing gets a marketer closer to consumers than mobile. Nothing." Combine the closeness of mobile with the engagement level of video, and you have an absolute win – as long as you do it right.

1 comment about "How NOT To Fail At Mobile Video: 5 Tips ".
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  1. Patrick Fitzgerald from Straight Face Productions, December 6, 2012 at 3:40 p.m.

    I would submit that the on demand ethos of the mobile consumer requires a different kind of messaging than simply cutting and repurposing content designed for TV. TV viewing is a passive experience, as demonstrated by the amount of two screen viewing that is reported. Mobile viewers are not interested in content formatted as pre-roll. They prefer video that is relevant to their search, it a more efficient vehicle to convey details. Use interactive elements in your video content to fully leverage the interactive capability of the platform. This is an engagement medium and platform, best practice is to marry content and platform for highest engagement.

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