Mobile video to come of age as significant branding strategy in 2014

As mobile video views continue to grow rapidly and ad offerings get better almost every day, mobile video advertising is shaping up to be a significant part of brands? mobile strategies next year.

It has been an exciting year for mobile video, with the craze for short-form videos initiated by the Vine application and exciting brand executions such as Chipotle?s video for the Scarecrow mobile game. At the same time, mobile platforms such as Twitter are quickly scaling up their mobile video ad offerings to meet the growing interest from brands.

?The [Twitter news] will open up substantial additional opportunities to place mobile videos ads by enabling publishers to reach Twitter?s more than 176 million mobile MAUs,? said Shuli Lowy marketing director at Ping Mobile, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

?Twitter's addition of mobile video will be a mutually beneficial development for all parties,? she said. ?Mobile video is a valuable form of communication which will allow both users and advertisers to capitalize on communicating more developed messages.

?The biggest challenge of adding on an engaging layer of mobile advertising is that it will require both Twitter and Facebook to continue their delicate walk along the balance beam of providing an enjoyable user experience while still properly monetizing their digital assets.?

Social boosters
The significant potential in mobile video is not lost on mobile platforms, which are working overtime to insure they have a strong offering in place.

For example, Unicorn Media's technology is enabling dynamic ad insertion via Twitter?s video content embedding function. This gives video content owners expanded reach by enabling them to easily publish and distribute videos on Twitter and dynamically insert targeted ads anywhere in the content.

Twitter is also building up its mobile strategy on the location front, having partnered with Pitney Bowes so that users can share their location in tweets. Location-enabled social posts can provide marketers deeper insight into the behavior of the Twitter community and give them a way to send hyper-targeted messages and offers to their customers when they are close to the store.

While Facebook has delayed an expected move into video ads repeatedly in 2013, it is expected to introduce an auto-play video ad product next year.

Other examples of how platforms are trying to meet the expected increase in demand for mobile video advertising include Blinkx' recent acquisition of Rhythm NewMedia and Yahoo?s deal for Ptch, a mobile app that enables users to create movies from their photos and videos.

?Video is clearly very important to Twitter's strategy,? said Scott Button, CEO at Unruly, New York. ?That's why they shelled out $90 million for Bluefin Labs, the social TV analytics company in February this year; partnered with Nielsen to add social buzz to TV measurement; and have been partnering left, right and center with the big U.S. TV networks.

?Twitter's basic proposition to brand advertisers is to amplify on social what they're doing on TV,? he said. ?It's a compelling pitch, and they're well ahead of Facebook with it.

?And mobile is the critical channel for social amplification. Because mobile is the device everyone is clutching whilst they're watching TV."

Consumer consumption
The reason for the interest in mobile video ads is that consumers are watching more video from mobile devices, at approximately 13 percent for smartphones and 4 percent for tablets, according to a recent report from FreeWheel.

The percentage of mobile video ad views is much smaller, at around 8.6 percent, with IOS accounting for more than 70 percent of smartphone and tablet video ad views. However, mobile video ads tend to command premium prices as much as 10 times higher than the cost per thousand impressions of standard mobile ads.

While video is a format that big brands like since they are familiar with it from their television and desktop strategies, there have been several challenges in migrating over to mobile with a video strategy.

Mobile experiences
One potentially more thorny challenge is how different the mobile experience is. As a result, marketers have struggled with what a successful mobile video ad campaign looks like.

This started to change in 2013 thanks to several successful examples that showed what mobile video ad campaign should look like.

For example, Chipotle created a YouTube video to support the launch of its Scarecrow mobile game that quickly garnered significant media attention and viral reach because of the narrative it presented about conventional farming.

The success of the Chipotle video points to the potential for mobile to drive viral views by initiating a conversation around a topic with emotional resonance for consumers while building brand awareness at the same time. It also starts to lay the groundwork for what those experiences will look like, with social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter an obvious way to drive the viral impact.

Another challenge for mobile video ads is the need to deliver a seamless experience, which can be a challenge with mobile when users are accessing content via mobile networks and not Wi-Fi. However, greater-capacity mobile networks are being expanded all the time.

?Video and mobile go hand in hand,? said Nathaniel Perez, Miami-based global head of social at SapientNitro.

?Twitter's ability to make content relevant to key conversations also means there's a large opportunity for video monetization on the table for them,? he said. ?The ad insertion strategy, combined with an effort to attract an impressive array of real-time content publishers, is a powerful way to monetize video by delivering both highly relevant content and advertising in a simple, tweet-sized package.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York