Mobile Video Marketing: Adapt or Die

It’s no secret that video consumption on mobile devices is skyrocketing. According to ComScore’s latest report, 60% of digital media time is spent via mobile platforms, and that was back in 2014. The prediction is that by 2019, 72% of all this mobile traffic will be from watching video.

When you consider those stats, the importance of optimising your video content for mobile becomes clear. But practically speaking, what does this mean for marketers, editors and filmmakers? How do you ensure your videos are kicking mobile butt?

No letterboxing

Mobile screen real estate is small enough and unless the material has been shot in 21:9, there is no need to slap on a couple of black bars to make it look more ‘cinematic’.

Mobile-friendly graphics

Title safe? Check. No typos? Check. Text legible on mobile devices? Perhaps not. Animators are often so busy designing the coolest looking effects they forget the end user. The result? Tiny graphics that look like a scratch mark on your mobile screen.

Edit for the small screen

What may be a gangbuster edit on your editing bay’s 4K monitor might not pack the same punch on the (very) small screen. Always check your content after it has been hammered through an H.264 compressor and then onto a smartphone. In short, chill out on the transitions: the razzle dazzle of film burns can clutter a smaller screen, so stick to basic cuts and fades and your audience will thank you.

Consider the ‘no sound’ experience

In our 5 Quick Tips for Social Video blog we pointed out that because many mobile users now have their sound off by default, it’s important to consider the ‘no sound’ experience when editing for social media. Ask yourself: does this make sense without audio? Will it capture interest without any audio cues? Would subtitles or other on-screen visual cues be helpful? Plenty of places can create closed captions, even within YouTube.

Open with a cliffhanger

Mobile users scroll through their news feed at record speeds, which doesn’t give you long to capture a viewer’s attention and keep them watching your video. The artist in you may appreciate the poetic beauty of a focus push from a falling leaf in autumn to an ice skater gliding gracefully on a frozen lake, but in reality your viewer left you before the leaf detached from the tree. To ensure your content rises above the other 249 clips of the month, you need the film-making equivalent of hitting someone over the head with a bat.

The new narrative wave

With your viewer’s thumb poised and ready to swipe or scroll on to the next thing, you can’t afford for the pace to ever slow. In other words, once you’ve got your viewer, you need to hold their attention with constant thrilling action. Gone are the days of placing those ‘holy shit’ moments near the end of the video to maintain engagement and boost overall viewing times. Try to think of your narrative thread as a constant wave, rather than a steady rise. Film trailers do this brilliantly: many start with a dramatic image or quote to pique your interest, followed by a lull in excitement as the premise is set, then another spike following an exposition or reveal. Simple but effective.

Go forth but keep it fresh

Mobile-only thinking is not a prerequisite to a successful online video campaign, but you should certainly consider mobile when creating content. Like anything in life, use these tips in moderation or risk becoming formulaic. I’ll leave you with a video that touches on some but not all of my mobile-only techniques, and looks outstanding.