New research from Adobe Digital Insights this month highlights an amazing statistic: since January 2015, there’s been a 68% increase in smartphone web traffic. While not all of this spike in mobile web traffic can be attributed to the consumption of video, there are plenty of signs that video has played a key role in mobile’s growth. Consider recent data from YouTube, which reported that in July 2017 American mobile users spent nearly a billion hours watching videos. And we noted back in April that seven out of 10 teens spend more than three hours each day watching mobile video. The IAB adds further weight to the popularity of mobile video in its recent guide to digital video advertising, noting that consumer time spent with mobile devices is expected to be almost double the time spent with desktop devices this year.
But knowing consumers are spending more time with mobile is only part of the story. For advertisers accustomed to spending their media dollars on TV and desktop video, mobile creates a new set of questions. Who offers the best mobile inventory? How do you balance spending on mobile with budgets for other ad formats? Adobe’s report offers some guidelines on how best to navigate mobile video advertising. Here are some key takeaways for marketers.
Design creative that’s optimized to play everywhere
Adobe notes that consumers are spending more time with mobile web and less time with mobile apps. In fact, the open rate for apps fell 22% between January 2016 and June of 2017. It’s difficult to predict declines for any specific ad format or medium, particularly for formats that are well supported today by consumers. But the takeaway for advertisers is to design video campaigns that work across a wide range of screens to help safeguard against rapid declines in any particular format.
Make personalization a key focus for mobile campaigns
It sounds obvious, but is worth a reminder… brand messages need to be tailored to specific audiences on every channel, perhaps even more so with mobile. Mobile just might be the most “personal” device of all, and smart advertisers use the information they gather about consumers’ mobile habits to better target their ads. One example of this is the type of content consumers prefer on mobile devices: while web traffic from smartphones seems to be growing across the board, Adobe identified several categories that have seen big spikes in mobile visits — national news (up by 52%), retail (up 31%) and travel (up 25%) websites among them. Just like any other ad format, the best mobile video campaigns recognize which audiences and content categories are the best match and make planning decisions accordingly.
Don’t ignore the advertising “elephants” in the room
Consider the outsize role that Google and Facebook play in today’s mobile content and advertising ecosystem. There’s no question that the mobile ad sector continues to diversify with new ad inventory every day. But at least for now, Google and Facebook seem to control a significant stake in how consumers find and consume most mobile content (and advertising). Adobe’s study shows that Google searches accounted for 61% of referral traffic to mobile websites in Q2 2017, while Facebook accounted for another 16% in that period. Together these two giants delivered more than three quarters of all mobile traffic during the period studied. Expect that ad products from one of these two companies will play a role in your next mobile campaign for the foreseeable future.
There’s no question that consumers’ consumption of mobile video is growing at a rapid rate. But mobile video remains a hugely untapped opportunity for many advertisers. Now, thanks to a growing body of research from organizations like Adobe, advertisers have guidelines to help inform their spending decisions. Designing campaigns using the most widespread ad formats can ensure that mobile video doesn’t end up siloed from other ad products. Meanwhile, personalization of mobile video campaigns is more critical given the highly personal nature of mobile devices. Last but not least, expect ad inventory from key mobile players like Facebook and Google to play a key role in your own mobile video campaigns for the foreseeable future. We may not have a complete picture of the mobile video ad landscape of the future, but it appears to be coming into sharper focus.