By Michelle Smith
Video advertising and marketing is nothing new. From the “Mad Men”-era 1950s to today, television ads have always been one of the most trusted – and most effective – forms of marketing.
Apple’s Orwellian “1984” spot.
Nike’s ongoing “Just Do It” campaign.
McDonald’s Larry Bird-vs.-Michael Jordan superstar matchup.
The best TV advertisements are remembered generations later – and they net significant gains for the brands they represent.
Video ads are still important in the marketing world. But now, they look a little different. Mobile device use is on the rise: 56% of American adults own a smartphone, and 35% own a tablet. This year, mobile activity will account for nearly 20% of all time online. And mobile users now make up 40% of all YouTube traffic.
So – what does an increasingly mobile consumer base mean for video marketing in 2014? What are the hallmarks of a great mobile video?
Marketers need to optimize for mobile
Despite the prevalence of mobile devices, many businesses have missed the mark on mobile sites. A full 45% of businesses don’t have a site or app optimized for mobile devices. That means they’re missing out on significant traffic – and revenue.
For companies to stay ahead, they need to do a better job of incorporating mobile into their video advertising strategy.
As mobile device use grows, videos are being watched on screens that are smaller and smarter. And that’s a good thing – sometimes. Mobile devices offer more avenues for viewing and sharing videos, and more opportunities for potential customers to interact with brands. But mobile devices also demand some changes.
As great of an asset as mobile videos can be, they present a particular challenge for digital marketers – size. A video that looks great on a big-screen TV won’t look or feel the same on a smartphone that’s 3 inches across, or a tablet that measures 8 or 9 inches on the diagonal.
Takeaway: Smaller screens mean that videos need to be shorter, simpler, and easier to follow.
Mobile videos are often viewed on the go. That means slower (and sometimes less reliable) Internet connections. Without the reliable quality of a TV connection or even a home Wi-Fi signal, digital marketers need to create videos that will work on any connection – including public Wi-Fi and cellular data networks.
Takeaway: Produce videos that require less bandwidth and load more quickly.
Smartphones and tablets are – well, smart. They can do practically anything. But they’re not always the best platforms for viewing videos. Most mobile devices have low-quality speakers and low-resolution displays – especially in comparison to big-screen TVs, laptops and PCs.
Takeaway: Combat the quality disparity by implementing great audio and visuals that are optimized for any device.
What do the best mobile videos have in common?
Video ads don’t just appear on mobile devices, like they do on TVs – viewers have to actively seek them out. For that to happen, mobile video ads need to entertain.
Tell a story. Go for laughs. Evoke compassion, solidarity, or even tears. No matter which route you take, make sure your video is equal parts entertainment and advertisement.
They keep it simple.
Mobile viewers don’t have the space (or the attention span) for long, complex video ads. For the best mobile videos, keep it simple – and short.
Use close-up images. Focus on one product, or even one feature of a product. Steer clear of complex storylines, and avoid text whenever possible – it’s hard to read on smaller screens.
If you want to stay ahead in mobile marketing, mobile video ads need to be part of your strategy. The trick? Keeping it simple, entertaining and high-quality.
Michelle Smith is a freelance writer with a focus on marketing. She can be found typing away on her laptop in sunny Boca Raton, Florida. Michelle welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.