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.