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Mobile Video Is Different

By Caroline Watts

February 3, 2016 at 11:54 AM

featuredImage_post02032016_v1a.jpgNew research from Facebook and Nielson has identified some interesting insights about how users consume mobile and desktop video ads. The fact that mobile consumption is different than desktop isn't going to surprise most marketers, but there is a lot to learn from these new studies that should change the way marketers think about video creation for both desktop and mobile.

The Value of Incomplete Video Views

Marketers expect that the majority of the video ads they serve won't be viewed to completion. Most further assume that there is some value to be had from partial views, somewhere between the impact of a completed view and no impression at all. But how much of a video does a consumer have to see for there to be an impact? It's probably less than you'd think. 

According to Facebook and Nielson, brand lift, ad recall, and purchase intent all increased with the view of the static ad impression that's served before the video ad plays. Unsurprisingly, they found that all of these metrics increased with the duration of the video view. But you might be surprised to find out that the segment who watched only three seconds of a 30 second video ads were responsible for 47%  of the cumulative increase in ad recall for the entire campaign, 32% of the increase in brand lift and 44% of the increase in purchase intent. 

That means that even after viewing an ad for only three seconds, there were significant increases for all three major metrics of campaign success. After only 10 seconds, 74% of increased ad recall had been accounted for. Clearly, a consumer needn't see an entire video in order for the desired effects to be realized, and a partial video view could actually serve as an appropriate proxy for other these three branding goals, recall, lift, and purchase intent. 

The recorded impact of partial views should really change how marketers think about digital video creation. While clever reveals at the end of an ad  may work well for TV, you need to front-load your content for digital video in order to drive brand recall and introduce your value prop right from the beginning.

I Know Mobile Is Different, Now Tell Me How

Mobile consumption has increased dramatically over the past few years, and we've seen some important behavioral changes. For marketers to be successful when reaching their audiences where they currently spend most of their time, understanding those changes is crucial.

A different study from Facebook found that users tend to scroll much more quickly on mobile than on desktop (spending an average of 1.7 seconds per piece of mobile content vs. 2.5 seconds on a desktop). Twitter, using eye tracking studies, has found the same to be true. This is not just a millennial phenomenon, the results hold across all demographics.

These results may just be confirmation of many marketer's existing assumptions about mobile, but nonetheless, indicate that in order for an ad to be effective, you need to catch the consumer's eye right away. The good news is that you don't need a lot of time to drive real results. You just need to double down on the creation of eye-catching ads that stand out enough to draw a glance away from users' super fast scrolling.

Applying Insight: Test, Don't Guess

Whatever this new research indicates about behavior, the implications for ad creation should never be taken as gospel. Rather, they should inspire new hypotheses for experiments across mobile and desktop video campaigns. Try testing shorter video ads, or ads with all the action in the beginning. See what happens when you incorporate your brand or your product into the opening shots.