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What the changing look of mobile video means for marketing

Sharon Goldman | March 10, 2016
It’s no longer a fad. In fact, video on mobile devices is now de rigeur for consumers and brands alike – and marketers are scrambling to catch up.

What was life like before you had a smartphone or a tablet? Chances are you hardly remember. However, with U.S. smartphone use predicted to top 257 million in 2017 and tablets a whopping 150 million (according to Forrester Research), it’s clear that mobile devices have changed a whole host of things about how we live our daily lives, from how we shop and work to how we hail taxis, make restaurant reservations and get our daily news fix. 

One thing quickly changing is how we view video. Whether it’s the latest late-night comedy clip, news soundbite or viral YouTube or Vine clip, more and more video viewing is done on the go. Consumers no longer only watch video on TV or on their desktops. Instead, mobile video is everywhere, in news feeds and on the mobile web, in apps and in ads. 

Research firm eMarketer estimates that more than 105 million U.S. smartphone users watched video at least once a month in 2015, representing 55.5 percent of the total smartphone user base. Millennials, not surprisingly, lead the pack – 95 percent watch video on their mobile devices at least once a week. 

Changing mobile video tides, but challenges remain 

These monumental changes in video viewing habits have already sent marketers scurrying to figure out the best way to tackle the latest technologies. “Our projections are for mobile video ad spending to increase pretty dramatically and at a greater rate than desktop video,” says Paul Verna, senior analyst at eMarketer. “There’s an almost perfect storm going on in terms of consumer behavior, technology development and content availability.” 

But while mobile video advertising enjoyed over $2.6 billion of investment in the U.S. in 2015, that number is still only a small portion of total mobile advertising budgets. There are still significant challenges in the nascent universe of mobile video, ranging from standards and measurement to obstacles due to multiple formats across a variety of “walled garden” apps such as YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat. 

Still, as devices become more powerful and better able to render video and display it without crashing, and as Wi-Fi is more easily available, mobile video will only increase as a marketing tool, says Rajeev Goel founder and CEO at Pubmatic, a marketing automation platform for digital publishers. 

“Brand marketers are better understanding the world of mobile video better and are more equipped to make decisions,” he says. “There’s still plenty of experimentation going on but there is also a realization that mobile video is here to stay.” 

Value and attribution remains a significant issue in terms of ROI measurement, says Colin Baer, VP of business development at Vungle, a mobile app monetization company. “It’s all how much value the marketer puts on somebody having seen that video ad right off the bat,” he says. “In terms of attribution, it’s about how really measure whether someone has watched the whole ad and are they following through on that? Did they take an action at a later point and are you able to connect the dots?” 

 

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