Advertisers have spent almost 1,300 percent more on mobile video in 2013 in comparison to last year. This is according to the UK's Internet Advertising Bureau, taking spend from £1.7 million in the first half of 2012, to £23 million in the first half of 2013. The significance of this space as a marketing opportunity is huge - after all, what other channel does your consumer carry around in their hand? Whilst mobile video is not a new technology, the last year has seen a number of rapid developments, which gives brands no excuse not to have mobile video at the core of its marketing strategy.
To start with, the proliferation of 4G networks now means that mobile video is a whippet-fast, glitch-free viewing experience; no more waiting for videos to stream or load when on the bus! Plus with two thirds of us owning a smartphone, and often using these as a distraction whilst on the move, the mobile video ad is a highly effective sales tool that puts brand's ads front of mind, whilst consumers are on the go. As well as being a portable promo, the mobile video ad is insidiously effective. It goes much further than just viewing. According to the blinkx Nation of Sharers research, 85% of us actively share video content after watching. In fact, videos are shared more than anything else on Facebook, including pictures. This online behaviour transforms each one of us into a brand evangelist, readily endorsing products.
However, to trigger this innate reflex, advertisers need to create content people deem worth sharing. According to Dr Jonathan Freeman and his team at i2Media, who conduct research into human behaviour and social media, we want to be seen by our friends and followers to be sharing 'interesting and exciting information'. So we will only share an object (a video, picture, song or words) if it delivers this positive social kick-back and achieve the holy grail for advertisers, which is the video ad going viral.
Sharing is a trend that's set to grow beyond 2013, as our reliance on peer-to-peer recommendation and shared content increases. In fact sharing is now usurping search as the route to discovery, with people tending to watch only what's channelled to them. But brands have to get right! Some great examples of brands harnessing the power of the mobile video ad include Volvo with its recent ad featuring Jaun Claude Van Damm, the #HTCchange campaign starring Robert Downey Jnr and network provider Three with its moon walking Shetland pony ad, made by Wieden + Kennedy, which clocked up more than 4 million views and counting.
Whilst creating sharable content for consumers, another reason why mobile video advertising is growing in popularity is that success is far easier to measure than that of Broadcast TV ads. With mobile ads you can target viewers and know precisely how many views it's received. With that comes the caveat that with sharable content, consumers can comment in real time on the ad, so it's important that brands know their audience and get the content right!
Taking this all into consideration, I'm not surprised that industry watchers are predicting this could be the year mobile advertising spend breaches the £1 billion mark, and with Britain being a 'sharing nation', I'm sure next year we'll see both the best (and probably also the worst) of what marketers and brands can achieve in this space. Forbes just this week stated that a big technology trend in 2014 would be the year that firms learn from cloud and mobile - and it's these learnings that are building confidence in mobile video investment. Watch this space.... But watch it on your mobile.