Could Mobile Video Be The New Out-of-Home Media For Today's Generation?

Now that we’ve had our fill of turkey, cranberry sauce, family and football, it’s time to discuss the change that signals the real coming of winter here in Los Angeles — the home of all things entertainment. I’m not talking about the cooler air — although temperatures in the low 60s do send us Angelenos in search of scarves and gloves — I’m talking about the onslaught of the fall and winter TV billboards. 

Los Angeles has at least 4,500 billboards than span out across just over 4,800 square miles, meaning our residents get exposed to a disproportionate percentage of OOH ads. At face value, this makes sense, given that people in L.A. spend so much time in their cars. But as I drove past yet another sign for the now-cancelled show “Selfie,” I couldn’t help but think about the overall strategy behind the fall and winter season marketing nationwide, and how it’s starting to evolve. 



Even with minimal data on engagement and little-to-no ability to drive a trackable call-to-viewing, static billboards remain a staple when it comes to driving show awareness in cities all across the country. But I think a pair of recent campaigns make it clear that it’s time for mobile video to become a new staple for marketing the fall and winter TV season as well. 

Go to Gotham and Catch The Flash 

For the Batman prequel “Gotham,” Fox partnered with Mediastorm to launch a native mobile video campaign that ran in content on sites like Entertainment Weekly during San Diego Comic-Con. The campaign garnered over five million video plays, with engagement rates on mobile that were eight times higher than the desktop. 

Meanwhile, for “The Flash,” OMD and The CW ran a mobile video campaign that included some of the hottest iOS and Android apps, as well as a mini-game that let players try to “Catch the Flash” by tapping their phone’s screen as fast as they could. And while both video views and post-video engagement were high, viewership was even higher — as “The Flash”wound up being The CW’s highest-rated series launch in five years. 

In both cases, the networks used mobile video to raise awareness, engagement and ultimately drive viewers to the shows on bigger screens, and there are three key reasons why: 

Target your audience correctly

A smartphone is an extremely personal device, so any advertising needs to feel tailored to the user. With Gotham, Fox was targeting pop culture junkies, so while publications like People made sense, simply bombarding readers with mobile banners did not. Embedding a trailer within the mobile content feed, and making sure the campaign ran during a tentpole pop culture event — namely, Comic-Con — was an ideal compromise. 

Leverage mobile video in a way that benefits the user 

Both campaigns also took advantage of mobile video technology in a way that enhanced the user experience as opposed to detracting from it. For example, one thing mobile users hate more than anything else is poor-quality video that takes forever to load. With The CW’s “The Flash,” the combination of an HD-quality video trailer that loaded quickly and smoothly, followed by a 10-second mini-game, actually gave them a fun experience in exchange for their attention. 

Include a clear call to action or option for deeper engagement 

This last point is also most evident in The CW’s “The Flash”campaign. After ensuring that they had the right audience and knew how and where to reach them, figuring out how to get those potential viewers to “act” — in this case, tune in to the pilot — was crucial to the campaign’s success. 

The “Catch the Flash” mobile mini-game was a creative way to drive post-video engagement, and gave the option to set a calendar reminder for the show’s premiere after they played was even more critical. Post-campaign analysis revealed that two out of every five people that saw the video ad played the mini-game, and then often chose to add the premiere to their calendars. Those calendar reminders helped drive 4.5 million total viewers to “The Flash”’sdebut. 

The bottom line is that mobile video ads helped create awareness of two of this fall’s hottest new series in a way that could be more easily measured — and replicated — than the current standard of static billboards. While there’s always room for the big, glossy OOH staples, it’s clear that an uptick in mobile video campaigns is becoming one of the other signature signs that the fall and winter TV season is here.

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