Is Mobile Video Advertising More Effective Than TV Spots?

It is a fair question. And intuitively, it would make sense for a video ad to be more impactful on handsets than on the living room tube. After all, consider the different circumstances and uses cases of mobile video watching compared to TV spot viewing. TV suffers both distractions and absent viewership. Mobile pretty much requires a higher degree of focus, and unlike the Web, it doesn’t have an alternate window or email to check when the pre-roll is running. On TV mobile is the possible “second screen” distraction -- while on mobile, well, that is the second screen.

So it isn’t too surprising that rewards-based pay-perview video ad net Tapjoy reports that in recent weeks it has flown a number of campaigns in the telecom, auto, finance and consumer goods segments that consistently outperform TV in brand recall metrics. Tapjoy is active in about 5700 apps -- mostly games -- and allows the user to exchange in-app points and content access for opting in to an ad engagement.

For a telecom campaign, for instance, the Tapjoy videos produced a 48% higher recall, vs. 22% for TV, and the mobile campaign generated 25% brand likeability vs. 11% for the TV spots.  

In another newly released case study, a campaign for GMC’s new Terrain SUV saw an 80% video completion rate, producing over 800,000 views. The net result was a 33% higher awareness and 42% higher brand recall.

To be sure, the results have the distinct advantage of being opt-in. Users not only choose to view the video but often can choose their advertiser, so self-selection is at work here. And as always, there is the issue of scale. 800,000 video views on a handheld is none too shabby, when you can find them. But Tapjoy CMO Peter Dille tells me that while scale is important to many of the advertisers in the system, “this is a bidded model. The advertiser can pay what they want, not a CPM they have to back-end into. A number of advertisers are coming to us for customer acquisition or direct response, and for that stuff this works like no one’s business.”

Tapjoy still has at its core gaming app inventory, since that content type is so compatible with in-app value adds that a sponsor can underwrite in exchange for an ad view. But Dille says Tapjoy has been expanding in recent months to messaging apps like Pinger, dating apps and also even video apps where ads can be exchanged for watching movies. The company boasts 1.3 million daily conversions of mobile viewers into some form of action, whether it is viewing a video, downloading another app or sign-ups. Between 2010 -- Tapjoy’s first year in the space -- and 2011, revenue rose from $20 million to over $100 million, and Tapjoy “in 2012 exceeded $100 million by a comfortable margin.”

As mobile video gains greater scale, a legitimate comparison can be made between TV and device-bound impact. In order to fully understand the nature and kind of differential between platforms, we will need to know more about the impact of straight pre-rolls against mobile video clips and shows, of course. But there is a strong common-sense case to be made about the special engagement with video advertising that a mobile platform requires, over both TV and Web. We should be talking more about the “intimacy dividend,” how the form and focus of mobile benefits engagement and immersion. Focus trumps screen size any day.  

4 comments about "Is Mobile Video Advertising More Effective Than TV Spots?".
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  1. Chris Vinson from Vinson Advertising, February 26, 2013 at 4:18 p.m.

    It's easier to do something else when the ads play on my computer, mute the ads or switch to another page for a bit than it is on TV. I suspect this trend will rise as consumers adapt more to online. It will be interesting to study the impact of pre-rolls. Great article!

  2. Nick D from ___, February 26, 2013 at 5:20 p.m.

    What kind of video content is covered by this research, though? As we know, video isn't homogenous - and we'd expect to see a bias towards shorter video content on mobile devices, and pre-roll ads (mid or post-roll not being viable for most short form video).

    Comparing that to broadcast TV and its ad formats is thus comparing chalk and cheese - it's not a completely pointless exercise, but chalking up a win for mobile video is missing the point.

  3. Steve Smith from Mediapost, February 26, 2013 at 5:30 p.m.

    Thanks Nick. You are right that contextually the comparison is not a tight fit. I mention that above. These are video ads of a rewards-based nature, within the context of mobile games by and large. It is not research but case studies with post-campaign brand lift studies attached. But as we agree, this is why we need more apples to apple comparisons of long form media and ads across platforms. But beyond that, I wonder if the incompatibility of the two formats actually makes a bigger point about mobile impact. the content and contexts are different and that is part of why overall the ads do have greater impact. Or MIGHT. I don't think there is anything close to conclusive in these cases. I think there are some good questions worth pursuing, though.

  4. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, February 26, 2013 at 8:27 p.m.

    I don't think we're looking at this right. Context has only mminimal value. Video content loses a tremendous amount of impact when it's on a handheld device. I see this by observing my 15 year old who watches a tremendous amount of video on his iPhone and laptop. His preference? To watch on the HDTV if at all possible, and his phone or laptop if nothing else is available. Why? It's so much more interesting and compelling in the TV. In part, people ignore far more video watched handheld than they do on the bigger screens because the visceral experience is so poor. Adequate enough to watch on a bus, but quite poor if you have an option.

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