By: Michelle Smith
The tech world is constantly changing. But right now, it’s heading in one significant direction: mobile.
Mobile devices are initiating a total entertainment takeover. More than half of Americans use smartphones in 2013, while 35% own tablets. Recent studies show that one in three children use mobile phones and tablets before they can even talk.
One of the most popular activities for mobile devices: watching videos. Vine and Instagram helped promote that trend this year, and video-sharing sites are seeing huge increases in mobile traffic – according to Google, a full 40% of YouTube’s traffic comes from mobile devices. That’s significant for marketers, who have long relied on video ads as an integral part of their branding strategy. On one hand, mobile is great – it provides more opportunities for brands to interact with consumers, and it’s the perfect platform for innovation and creativity. But mobile also presents some particular marketing challenges.
What are the challenges for mobile videos, and how can marketers combat them to get more views on more devices? Keep reading to find out.
The Challenge: Small Screens
Videos designed to be viewed on TVs or even PCs have a lot of room to get their point across, especially with big-screen TVs nearing 100 inches on the diagonal. But that’s not true for mobile devices – smartphones typically measure only 3 or 4 inches across, and tablets aren’t much bigger. That means that complex storylines, subtle images and even text won’t work as well on mobile.
The Fix: Simple Content
The first rule for mobile videos: keep it simple. The videos that work best on mobile devices are to-the-point and easy to follow, on screens of any size. Keep videos short – under a minute is best. Use close-up images instead of wide shots with lots of subjects. Focus on one story, one product, or even a single feature of one product. Avoid lengthy text when you can, and use big, legible fonts when you can’t.
The master of simplicity has got to be Apple. Their focus on minimalist design is reflected in one of their best campaigns, a series of ads surrounding the 2012 launch of the iPhone 5 – each ad focuses on just one feature of the smartphone.
The Challenge: Low-Quality Devices
Mobile devices are smart – that’s what makes them so great. But when there’s a lot of smart software bundled into a very small package, there’s not always room for the most advanced hardware.
Smartphones and tablets, with a few exceptions, typically have low-quality speakers and low-resolution displays, making videos harder to see and hear on mobile devices.
The Fix: High-Quality Videos
It’s true for any video, but especially for mobile – optimize your videos by putting your time and resources into high-quality audio and visuals. It may be tempting to skimp on quality in favor of more flashy stuff – like the rights to hit songs or celebrity cameos. But the best way to make sure your videos look good on any device is to well, make them good.
Department store John Lewis’s 2013 Christmas ad, which already has nearly 10 million views, is the perfect example of a high-quality video – artfully animated animals and winter landscapes combine with gorgeous background music to capture (and keep) viewers’ attention.
The Challenge: Short Attention Spans
Chances are, if someone is viewing your video on a mobile device, they’re also doing something else. Watching TV. Waiting in line at the grocery store or the doctor’s office. Maybe even completing a project for work. And even if they’re not, they’re likely distracted by the information overload of the Internet. Your mobile video has to compete with all that to keep viewers’ attention.
The Fix: Entertainment
What makes a video great varies depending on the platform. A fantastic TV commercial won’t be the same as a popular viral video, and the same viral video played on a laptop might not have the same effect on a smartphone. But one thing that rings true, no matter the medium? The best videos entertain.
That’s especially true for mobile videos. They’re not like TV commercials, which just appear on-screen. Mobile viewers need to actively seek out your video to watch it, and they need a reason to share it with their friends. Your best bet? Entertain – whether that means going for laughs, evoking tears or just telling a great story.
One video that entertains as much as it advertises? Verizon Internet’s “FiOS Football Girl” commercial, which shows a cute little kid getting back at her brother by learning to play football (with the help of Verizon Internet service, of course).
The takeaway? Great mobile videos aren’t impossible to create – they just require a different strategy. And if your brand wants to keep up with digital marketing, mobile videos are the next big step.
Meet Guest: Michelle Smith
Michelle Smith is a freelance writer with a focus on social media and marketing. She can be found typing away on her laptop in sunny Boca Raton, Florida. Michelle welcomes your feedback via email.
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— Fandom Marketing (@FandomMarketing) December 27, 2013