Get More Bang for Your Buck With Native Video Apps

A few weeks ago, YouTube sent Microsoft a cease-and-desist letter after Microsoft released a YouTube app for its Windows Phone 8 platform. Microsoft authored the YouTube app itself, as a way of compensating for the fact that YouTube hadn’t created a native app of its own for the Windows Phone 8 ecosystem. The problem was that in doing so, it was stripping out the ads that YouTube embedded, thus eliminating the ability for YouTube partners to monetize any video plays that take place on a Windows Phone 8 device.

Fortunately for YouTube’s partners, they don’t need to rely on YouTube to decide which mobile platforms it will support in order to still have their content available to mobile users. They can just create a mobile app of their own and make it available through the app store of every smartphone platform available today.

But like YouTube, many mobile app developers make choices about which mobile platform they will support with a native app. Creating native apps requires time and developer resources. Determining where to apply both usually comes down to a “most bang for your buck” question.

This is a horrible decision to have to make. The greatest potential of mobile video apps is that they allow brands to establish a relationship directly with their target audience without depending on a third-party distributor. They can choose the content, the look/feel of the app, and most importantly, how to monetize that relationship. Video apps can generate revenue via ads, via in-app purchases, and via merchandise sales.

What’s more, the smartphone home screen is the most valuable branding property there is right now. It’s the most personal connection a brand can make with a customer: literally one click away, on their most personal device, which they carry with them all the time. The app icon on that screen is more than just a user interface device designed to launch an app. It’s your brand. It’s the face of your content.

And finally, consider the audience that you’re missing out on. Forget the market share figures between platforms, and focus instead on the demographic of their collective user base. The 18-34-year-old age group that video advertisers (and brands) most covet is the age group that’s the most active on mobile video. Our data shows that between 35 and 50 percent of this demographic views video on mobile over other formats.

For branded YouTube channels, the measure of success is the subscriber count. A “successful” YouTube channel is measured by the number of viewers who have subscribed to that channel’s content. On mobile, the metric of importance is the download count. I’d argue this is an even more important metric because it’s not measuring how many of a third party’s user base is also aligning themselves with your brand or your content. Instead, the download count is a measure of how successful you’ve been at converting that third party’s customers into your own.

So, for a brand or developer to aspire to this direct-to-fan relationship via mobile only to be forced to limit their potential reach over something as mundane as platform support decisions is unfortunate at best.

I can testify that it’s entirely possible to create and monetize apps across all platforms so this no longer becomes a difficult decision. It’s not at all unrealistic to create a mobile app once, use a platform to optimize that app for every available mobile platform, and then publish that app on them all, simultaneously, and in the process create new revenues using models customized for each platform.

That’s what we call “bang for your buck.” That’s how brands can capitalize on the promise of mobility.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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