Here's one tech trend you probably haven't seen in a top 10 list: skyrocketing neck injury rates due to mobile device overuse.
OK, maybe that's made up, but one thing you can't deny is just how many hours today's consumers spend peering into their smartphones and tablets. Whether it's that businesswoman toddling haphazardly down a busy sidewalk as she looks up a few more stats or that father ambling along in the carpool lane while texting, everywhere you look there are people with their heads down, thoroughly sucked into their devices.
Unlike online or TV viewers, mobile owners watch video consistently throughout the day. Not surprisingly, mobile video is predicted to grow at a rate of 28 percent over the next five years, and by 2015, 86 percent of the rapidly expanding smartphone and tablet owner population will stream videos to these devices.
For marketers, that means one thing: when it's time to distribute a compelling video marketing campaign to the world, mobile is the place to be. That said, just tossing a casually conceived video out on mobile and hoping it's going to succeed will only be a waste of time and money. Here are a few ways to create a mobile-friendly video marketing campaign that knocks it out of the park.
1. Keep it contextually relevant. Not all video ads are equal, and some are sure to do better in different contexts. For instance, while interactive pre-roll ads are among the more effective ad types, they're about 50 percent more likely to reach completion when paired with premium media than with content in which users are only mildly interested.
The same goes for ads shown within premium content much like on TV, except of course they have the added benefit of that interactive component, in which users can engage with games or direct links to a company's website. However, when the consumer moves away from media consumption and launches a game or app, a video ad will be most effective at launch than in the middle of use, as it may be seen as detracting from the experience.
2. Target specific types of users. Like all advertising, a video marketing campaign should be highly targeted. Unlike all advertising, it is relatively simple to do this in the mobile sphere and it's even easier to collect data on users based on their reaction to the campaign.
The first step, of course, is to gather all relevant demographic and psychographic data. Then add a little geo-targeting into the mix so users are getting the ads most relevant to their region. Don't forget dayparting, too; just like with traditional advertising, users will be more receptive to ads at different times of the day. A combination of these measures should help users feel video ads are personally relevant.
3. Keep it short, packed, and not too sales-y. From a content perspective, the inherent trick in mobile video ads is much the same as that with most online marketing efforts: finding that balance between a fun, engaging video with a high chance of going viral and actually, you know, promoting a business. Keeping it short will help, as will thinking deeply about just what it is your audience wants to see, whether that's expert answers to burning questions or simply something funny for their age group.
Again, context is key. A landing page video, for instance, will naturally lend itself to a more straightforward description of a service, while a pre-content ad should up the entertainment value.
4. Distribute beyond YouTube. While YouTube is an obvious and effective destination for any video, it's important not to forget other streaming sites like Vimeo for your more creative efforts, or industry-specific sites. Wherever that video is headed, make sure it's properly indexed and placed, and that it's easy to find with keywords in the title, description, and tags.
5. Keep the video quality high. One of the most crucial things you can do for a mobile-friendly video campaign is keeping all aspects of quality high. This means not just recording an employee on an iPhone and slapping a shaky, boring video up there. Instead, invest in a professional video production agency with its own set of creatives to get it done right. Believe me. It will pay off.
Perhaps even more important when it comes to mobile video in particular is the technical quality of the video itself. You need to make sure the video looks great on a plethora of device types and screen sizes and that it streams without a hitch - especially when dealing with rich media and limited data plans. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized, as the research indicates that even slight buffering can be enough to send viewers packing.
One way to address this is to use a test site to see how your video appears on different screens. However, using a good content delivery network (CDN) service will prove a much more holistic approach. Hosting your video campaigns on a CDN will mean distributing the task across servers, so that when a consumer loads a video, it will stream from the nearest location. This is especially important in maintaining the quality of HD videos, as the network will automatically determine the correct format and sizing for the device at hand, as well as the type of playback needed. CDNs also ensure interruption-free streaming, with little delays or stuttering.
Confused by all the jargon? There are some CDN services out there that are more beginner-friendly than others. For example, MetaCDN helps users with video encoding via the cloud by giving fewer quality options based on what you hope to do with the videos, rather than providing hundreds of options and leaving it to the consumer to choose which one is right for her project. If you need a bit more hand-holding (and that's OK!), look for a provider that can help with both streaming and encoding options, and find the answer to questions like these.
6. Have clear calls-to-action. Last but not least, all video ads should have a clear call-to-action (CTA), either at the end or throughout, as well as in any accompanying descriptions. This could include social media buttons, a company URL, a link to games that take the viewer deeper into the brand, a newsletter signup, or really anything you can think of. For mobile videos, a link to a company app in the device store will be particularly compelling. Don't forget to subtly brand the video by placing a company logo at the side or top of the screen.
There's a lot to think about if you're going to do a mobile-friendly video marketing campaign right. But with the payoffs so meaty, what's to lose? Target and engage that audience, and soon those necks will be craning to watch your videos.
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Adria Saracino is the head of outreach at Distilled, a creative online marketing agency. When not consulting on content strategy or leading her team of outreach warriors, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.