Mobile video has gotten its fair share of buzz as of late, and for good reason – last year, Google found more than half of all web traffic to come from mobile, and according to Cisco, 60% of mobile data traffic was attributed to… you guessed it, video. Advertisers followed suit by increasing mobile video ad spend to $1.6 billion, which was a whopping 178% increase from the year before, and over 40% of the $3.9 billion online video ad market. And now that more cellular providers are offering unlimited data plans, these numbers will only continue to skyrocket – video’s dominance in mobile traffic is projected to grow another 15 points by 2020, and a majority of advertisers to expect their mobile spending to increase by at least 25% this year.
In order for publishers to succeed in this increasingly mobile-centric landscape, optimizing videos for a seamless mobile experience has never been more critical. And while social video viewing has contributed in large part to the rise in mobile consumption, publishers must spend just as much of their time optimizing videos for their mobile websites as they are for social media feeds. A study by Teads found that mobile video content on a publisher’s site was 16% more likely to be deemed relevant by audiences than that same content on social media. These videos also made 19% more of an impact on the left side of the brain and 8% more on the right. As Teads CMO Rebecca Mahony reiterated, “This study validates something Teads has felt strongly about for some time--that advertising within premium editorial is the most effective option for advertisers."
Major players like Facebook, Google, CNN and the New York Times have all been taking initiatives to ensure videos on mobile are as profitable and user-friendly as possible, and we’ve seen the following best practices show up again and again in these industry leaders’ mobile-first video strategies. Make sure you’re including them as well to ensure top performance on your mobile site:
1. Short-form video content...
When it comes to creating content for optimal UX, there’s one important rule that publishers should always adhere to: the smaller the screen, the shorter the content. CNN recently revamped their mobile app to feature a lot less text and a lot more (and a lot shorter) vertical video content, in order to entice audiences to watch more videos in the way that is most comfortable on a smartphone. While we tend to consider any video under two minutes as short-form, it’s best to keep most mobile videos under the minute mark – according to a report by Aol, a majority of consumers watch more videos that last under a minute than those of any longer length. And thanks to the popularity of Snapchat and the like, 10-second micro-videos (or as we like to call them, Snippets) are getting some serious approval ratings from mobile viewers.
2. ...and even shorter mid-roll ads
The biggest takeaway from our latest report on video ad consumption? Capping video ad length at 10 seconds in general, but especially on mobile sites, apps, and platforms, is the best way to ensure these ads are actually being watched. YouTube, who has depended on mobile users for over half its video traffic since 2014, recently shed some weight from its standard ad format from 30 seconds to six in order to improve advertisers’ mobile reach. Facebook just launched an entire campaign around their new mobile video push – not just to sell their new mid-roll offering, but to “generally shift industry mindsets toward clips specifically created for the platform’s smartphone users.” And if there’s anything we’ve learned about these users, it’s that ads, and the videos that surround them, should not be any longer than their attention span.
3. Vertical video
While we may have mentioned over and over and over again how important vertical videos are to the mobile user experience, it’s difficult to truly stress enough. Forcing viewers to flip a phone sideways may seem like a small price to pay, but once you take into account that you may be losing 70% of your audience, it becomes clear that investing in vertical video is worth the effort. And now that almost every social platform and major publisher has started making the vertical video shift, vertical video will go from being a preference to a priority on mobile screens in no time.
4. Fast load time
Ever since Google launched its open-source fast-loading mobile initiative AMP, publishers’ content on the platform has generated performance metrics that were previously unheard of on mobile. Swiss tabloid Blick, for instance, saw their AMP pages load within 168 milliseconds and generate twice as many clicks as those on their mobile site, which required a loading time of 13 whole seconds - 10 of which were attributed to ad latency. And according to a Google-led study, 80% of ads on Google AMP generated higher viewability rates than those on publishers’ sites. It’s due time that publishers and advertisers work together to build their own AMP-worthy mobile experiences. For advertisers, that means creating lighter ads. For publishers, that means prioritizing mobile site development. Check out Google’s tips for speeding up your mobile site here.
5. Sticky video players
Smart video players that embrace scrolling and multitasking have become publishers’ and platforms’ latest and greatest solution for vastly improving mobile UX, viewability, and in turn, monetization. According to the AMP roadmap, plans are already in place to create a “hero” mode for video players, which will enable videos to be moved above the page fold, expanded to full bleed, set to autoplay, and docked to the corner when the user scrolls. Facebook recently announced a similar feature for mobile, “picture in picture,” which will continue playing video in a smaller player as users scroll through their feed. This “sticky” functionality has already been implemented into our own mobile Widget player, and has been extremely beneficial for publishers looking to monetize their mobile site without interrupting existing site content.