We all know that mobile video consumption is exploding, and as expected, ad dollars are increasingly flowing into mobile video ads. Smart advertisers are following the eyeballs. But when it comes to creative, many are looking backward for answers on how to move forward. Few are taking advantage of the mobile opportunity effectively.
Brand managers, marketers, creative directors, media planners and everyone else in the ecosystem (myself included) love to think of themselves as innovative. We're all seeking the hottest, latest, never-been-done-before big idea. It's easy to say, but hard to live up to. Sure, there are some brands experimenting with mobile video, creating unique executions designed for the small screen (see the recent Dewdles from Mtn Dew). But for the most part -- and I think there is consensus here -- mobile video ads are a giant, repurposed yawn.
Maybe part of it is because, as an industry, we've made some serious missteps with digital advertising. Be honest: Do banner ads pique your interest? Do you enjoy it when an interstitial pops up and you try to click the "X" to close it, but doing so actually clicks out to another site? As media evolves, and we gain greater control over what we read, watch, and play, digital ads seem less like ignorable wallpaper (at best) and can feel more like bad user experiences.
With a new medium comes a new chance to shine. As mobile video takes off, we owe it to ourselves -- as professionals but also as consumers -- to take a hard look at what makes a good digital ad.
TV remains the golden standard for many brands. It's not going away. It's actually going everywhere, across every screen. And TV spots can serve as useful inspiration for digital, but only in the right way. In fact, attempting to mimic the TV experience too closely on a mobile device is exactly where a lot of brands go wrong.
You can't simply drop your 30-second spot into an ad call on a mobile device. Well, you can, but maybe you shouldn't. To start, mobile moments are more diverse than TV moments. Sure, most mobile content is consumed inside the home, but a huge proportion -- 42% by our estimate -- isn't. Your ad experience must account for the wide array of potential moments in which you'll catch your viewer.
Why do people carry their phones with them everywhere, all the time, no matter what? Because they can do things with them. Watching and consuming is one thing, but the ability to interact is what ushered in the new world order in which we all live. There's only so much content you can passively watch. But there are infinite photos to share, birds to launch into piles of pigs and Internet wormholes to disappear into. People love this stuff. They want to interact. Give them something to grab onto and they will engage.
Be careful, however, not to clutter everything up and go crazy. When banner ads were in their infancy, we made them blink and flash just because we could. Adding five buttons to your video ad, just because you can, will not make it engaging. Experiment thoughtfully. What would make your ad more useful, engaging or exciting for the viewer? Are you selling the new PS4? Let the viewer tap one button to instantly see retailers nearby that have it in stock. Promoting a luxury good, like scotch? Include an option to watch a short film starring your celebrity endorsers. That's content marketing at its best—all over the Internet, not just on your branded microsite. Announcing a TV show premiere? How about localized messaging of time and channel with the ability to record on their DVR? Any video partner worth their salt can build this type of interactivity into your ad in their sleep—and so much more.
I know that a team of people has spent hundreds or thousands of hours perfecting your 30-second TV spot. A ton of work went into it, and it's probably stellar. But that doesn't mean it works everywhere. When it comes to mobile video, your 30-second spot goes back to being a video asset, an unfinished piece that's not yet ready for prime time.
We're on the cusp of a golden era of digital advertising. Let's not be complacent and junk up our new favorite place to spend time with ads that were meant for another medium.
Ad Age / Creativity / Tremor Video recently launched the third annual Super Creative Video Ad Challenge to show the world how powerful interactive mobile video advertising can be for brands and advertisers.