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Move to native ads fuels full-length mobile video growth

Once reserved for short clips, big brands including General Mills and Pepsi are betting on full-length mobile video as consumers increasingly become more comfortable watching content on their smartphones and tablets.

Video is one of the fastest-growing sectors of mobile advertising and is attracting big brands that need to get the most out of television-heavy media buys. However, up until recently, marketers have been constrained to fitting full-length creative into mobile-friendly 15 and 30-second ads.

?As native ad placements continue to spike, we are seeing more marketers use full-length mobile video ads, which typically perform better on native ads,? said Shuli Lowy, New York-based marketing director at Ping Mobile.

?Mobile users have a shorter bandwidth of patience when engaging with video-based ads,? she said. ?Unlike televised commercials, in which consumers are propelled to endure a video ad till the end, mobile commercials often give consumers the option of exiting out whenever they wish.? 

Translating big TV spends to mobile
Recent big deals from Omnicom and Mondel?z are clear indicators that brands are shifting marketing spend from banners to native ads that all of the major social media giants offer (see story).

These ads promise marketers more creativity with rich media, video and visuals and tighter integration into relevant content surrounding an ad.

Last week, Facebook finally unveiled its new ad product called Premium Video Ads, which will let marketers run video ads that automatically begin playing as consumers scroll through Facebook's mobile and Web platforms.

Tapping on an ad expands the video and triggers audio to begin playing.

The ads will begin rolling out into newsfeeds in the next couple of months, but plenty of big brands including Nestlé and Estée Lauder are already experimenting with video within sponsored mobile posts (see story). 

Video content on Facebook, Twitter, Vine and Instagram are all geared towards short clips, but the new platforms also open up new opportunities for longer-form content.

For example, Live Nation is currently running a sponsored mobile post that promotes Miley Cyrus' Bangerz world tour.

The ads include a link to a 60-second video promoting the tour.

Although not a native ad, Toyota also recently ran a video-heavy iAd campaign as part of its Super Bowl XLVIII ad that packs the brand's videos and YouTube page into the ad unit (see story).

Mobile storytelling
With more consumers devouring video content on their smartphones and tablets, verticals such as consumer-packaged goods are prolonging campaigns to incorporate full-length commercials and content.

Traditionally, CPG brands? commercials convey longer stories, making it hard for marketers to cut down content to the typical 15-second spot.

However, that is changing as brands look to take advantage of the longer amount of time that consumers are spending with content.

For example, PepsiCo?s Quaker is running full 30-second video ads within the Pandora iPhone application.

The ads fit into a bigger video-heavy campaign that Quaker is running to promote the brand?s line of Fruit Medleys products.

The Quaker video ad also includes expandable ads within Pandora.

When consumers click on the ad, a landing page from Quaker?s mobile site is pulled up. Consumers can then learn more about the brand?s oatmeal, bars and cereal products and find a location where they can buy them.

The mobile video is the same length as a television spot that Quaker is also running, and uses the full length of time to tell several different stories. If the video was cut down to the traditional 15-second mobile clip, the video would likely lose some of branding that Quaker is trying to convey in its spot.

General Mills is also making a bigger push into mobile video.

The CPG giant?s Pillsbury brand is running an in-app video campaign within SessionM?s network to showcase recipes that incorporate the brand?s products.

After consumers earn rewards, they can click-through to view the Pillsbury ad. The ad pulls in a four-minute video that walks consumers through the process of making smoky grilled pizza using Pillsbury?s Grands Buttermilk Biscuits.

Once the clip ends, consumers can click-through to view more recipes and content on YouTube. The YouTube clip is part of a bigger partnership between Pillsbury and Serious Eats.

Other examples of verticals that are moving towards more full-length video include retail and entertainment to convey more complex story lines.

For instance, film studios are increasingly choosing to serve up full-length trailers versus shortened clips that may not fit in the 30-second of 60-second TV ad.

?As a general trend, marketers have become more educated on mobile, and publishers want to run more video in mobile environments,? said Matt Young, director of mobile at BrightRoll, San Francisco.

Primary screen
According to Millward Brown?s new AdReaction study, mobile is now outpacing TV in daily usage for the first time.

The average Chinese consumer spends 170 minutes glued to their mobile devices per day, almost double the same amount of time that they spend watching TV.

To compare, the average American spends 151 minutes interacting on mobile devices compared to 147 minutes watching TV.

At the same time, Cisco reports that traffic from mobile video hit 53 percent of global traffic in 2013.

This shift towards mobile becoming the first screen has the potential to significantly shift how marketers divvy up their video spend between TV and digital.

?15-30 second video is still the standard and ideal length for marketers who are looking for efficient pricing and higher completion rates,? said David Lavine, senior vice president of national sales at appssavvy, New York.

?But as marketers get better at understanding mobile, we see content that is produced and edited to work in this environment,? he said.

?We find that short-form content works best for mobile environments, while providing the best user experience,? he said.

Challenges with longer content
Although longer video content can offer marketers more branding and engagement opportunities, there are still a number of challenges around long-form content.

Despite the longer length, video content still needs to be compelling and creative enough to hold a consumer?s attention.

According to Dave Martin, senior vice president of media at Ignited, El Segundo, CA, there is also more video inventory available for short-form creative right now.

Additionally, ad placement plays a bigger role for long-form video. While consumers may be willing to watch a 15-second pre-roll ad before a minute-long YouTube video, they are unlikely to watch a 90-second ad.

?The challenge is ensuring that what you create is interesting enough to both capture and keep a consumer?s attention,? Mr. Martin said. ?With more than a million apps, and a long and growing list of content creators, finding your way to a consumer is getting harder and harder, so you need to make the most of those moments when they are willing to give you some of their time.?

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