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Is mobile video the new TV commercial?

With consumers increasingly turning to their smartphones and tablets to watch videos, mobile forces marketers to tailor and perfect their content for smaller-sized screens. Although the channel might not be on par with television yet, experts agree that mobile is poised for growth.

This year?s Super Bowl is a great example of how video content is shifting to online and mobile platforms.  Nowadays, marketers not only need to be thinking about how their big game day spot will turn out on TV but also how it will be viewed after the game on digital platforms.

?Mobile video is not the new TV commercial by a long shot ? not yet at least,? said Ujjal Kohli, CEO of Rhythm NewMedia, Mountain View, CA.

?Here's the thing ? mobile video advertising is ultimately going to come out ahead because it is the fastest growing, best performing ad unit in all of advertising,? he said.

?Leading marketers that are driven by meaningful metrics, not by clinging to safety, are shifting TV dollars to mobile video ? and not just any mobile video ? but mobile video ads before premium mobile video content, since these ads have the best results.?

The play for mobile
For a 30-second TV spot in this year?s Super Bowl, marketers forked over $4 million. Although this might be feasible for big brands, other brands are eyeing mobile and online as a way to get content quickly to a group of users less expensively.

With consumers watching TV with multiple devices in hand, there is a big opportunity for digital marketers to take users? attentions away from TV via mobile.

?I think the brand marketer has just evolved and during the Super Bowl we saw that,? said Alexis Berger, vice president of Midwest sales at Kargo, New York.

?They are starting to realize more and more, that they don't need to invest millions of dollars for a 30-second spot, they can capture their consumer in various ways,? she said.

?We are already seeing the financial investment shift. Huge money is being spent in online video and the mobile video wave will be next.?

For instance, data from Adobe recently found that consumers watch mobile video twice as often during a big sports game than they do in an average day. The research looks at 1.4 billion mobile video starts over two time periods ? on an average day and during the ten biggest sports event days in 2012.

Eight percent of sports-related content across entertainment, media and sports sites were viewed via mobile on an average day. On the game days, the amount of mobile traffic jumps to 16 percent.

The data points to consumers not only using multiple devices while watching TV but also being glued to their devices for video content, showing how marketers can steal a user?s full attention from TV to mobile if the content is compelling enough.

"Ultimately, as content creators look to bring TV Everywhere, today's understanding and definition of TV will shift to mean consuming video content on any type of device, especially on smartphones and tablets," said Nikao Yang, senior vice president of new business development and marketing at AdColony, Los Angeles.

"This means that understanding the mobile video ad space and how it can affect your brand's position versus competitors is more important now than ever before," he said.

Nowadays, video content has a much longer shelf life than a TV spot.

For example, Mr. Yang said that AdColony is currently running mobile video campaigns for five brands that also advertised during the Super Bowl. 

"We know brands are increasingly turning to mobile video as natural extensions of their Super Bowl campaigns ? running mobile video campaigns during and after the game allows them to continue to reach an audience the size of the Super Bowl for weeks after Super Bowl Sunday," Mr. Yang said.

"It is a perfect way for brands to extend their big game ad buys in cross-channel campaigns," he said.

Mobile measurement
Compared to TV, mobile also offers marketers a big chunk of metrics to look at that measure a campaign?s effectiveness, which might be helpful at persuading brands to mobilize content.

Although click-through rates and completion rates are commonly looked at to gauge success, deeper metrics such as engagement, brand lift, attribution and context are equally important.

These types of metrics can include everything from brand recall to purchase rates.

Additionally, one of the biggest draws of mobile over TV advertising is the ability to target segmented groups of users with specific content, according to Srikanth Kakani, CEO of Vdopia, Fremont, CA.

For example, a brand selling athletic gear might benefit from running video content only inside sports apps and mobile sites to hone in on one specific demographic.

?Brand marketers are increasingly savvy about tracking ROI, and there are much less tracking options in TV compared to digital,? Mr. Kakani said.

?Brands want to target people in key demographics such as age range between 25-34 years, household incomes above $70,000 and key minorities,? he said. ?People in these demographics are very active mobile users, so brands will spend more on mobile to reach these people.?

The opportunity can also be a challenge that requires content to be cut down to the bare minimum. Even though a 30-second commercial might work on TV, mobile users have about half the attention span.

Additionally, problems with data bandwidth on mobile devices means that mobile users are most likely watching short video content and clips, which makes it hard to slide in an ad on top of content.

Opportunity for interaction
Mobile video drives action, which gives it an edge over traditional TV advertising.

Smart marketers can take a mobile video from brand awareness to revenue by overlaying a video with buttons and calls-to-action that prompt users to take an action.

?Mobile video advertising provides interactivity options not available on TV,? Rhythm?s Mr. Kohli said.

?Tap to social media, tap to watch full length trailers, tap to buy, tap to locate and tons of other features provide incredible direct response and long-term branding opportunities,? he said. ?If a brand wants to engage their consumer, mobile is the place to do it.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York