Advertisers have even less time to connect as mobile video hits turning point

Advertisers have less than a minute to make their point via video, after which viewership drops off dramatically, finds AOL.

Brits appear to be far more patient than the US and Southeast Asia when it comes to video, with 32% of consumers watching videos that are five minutes or less daily, finds research by AOL. 

In the US, most consumers (59%) of consumers watch videos that are a minute or less daily, while in Southeast Asia, that figure is 47%. 

As videos grow longer, the crowd gets smaller. In the UK, videos of six to nine minutes only have 20% of people watching on a daily basis. 

"The trend is definitely headed towards smaller and shorter," said Anita Caras, head of international research at AOL.

 For brands, said Caras, it’s really about condensing your message into an elevator pitch that you get across in the first few seconds, "no matter if you have five seconds or 50".

The report is based on research that was conducted in December 2016 with 1,300 consumers and 1,614 publishers and advertisers in seven global markets including the UK, US, Canada, France, Japan, Australia and Southeast Asia.

Rise of mobile video

Globally, the study found that 57% of consumers watch videos on their mobile phone every day, just about on par with the 58% who watch videos on their laptop or desktop everyday.

In the UK, mobile video consumption has drawn level with desktop at 52% each. In the US, desktop remains ahead with 67% of users watching video on mobile daily versus 70% who watch on desktop.

In Southeast Asia, however, mobile video consumption has far outstripped desktop with 72% watching videos daily on their phones, compared with 60% on desktop.

Oddly enough, it is the UK that is the most mobile-dependent with 71% saying they cannot live without their smartphone or always have it within arms reach, compared with 60% in the US and 42% in Southeast Asia.

Mobile spend

As might be expected, given these figures, mobile spend is going up. Globally, 47% of advertisers expect to increase mobile ad spend by at least 25% this year, and 57% of publishers expect the same.

The US is leading the charge with 70% of advertisers and 79% of publishers planning to increase mobile spend by at least a quarter this year. In the UK, those figures are 46% and 61% for advertisers and publishers respectively.

Counter-intuitively, despite the high degree of mobile adoption, Southeast Asia trails the UK and the US in terms of mobile spend with only 58% of advertisers and 48% of publishers planning to up mobile investments by at least 25% this year. 

Caras pointed out, however, that more Southeast Asian advertisers were planning on spending increased amounts on mobile than the global average of 47%. "This is an indication of a desire to increase spend, not the the amount spent," she highlighted.

This growth in mobile video spend is coming from TV, said the report, and mobile video spend is catching up to desktop video. When AOL looked at TV budgets shifting to digital video, it found that 63% is going to mobile video and 70% is going to desktop video.

Opportunities and challenges in mobile video

UK marketers are most interested in the granular audience targeting possible via mobile video (42%) and TV-to-mobile retargeting (37%).

The top impediments to a successful mobile video strategy, say UK advertisers, is the quality of consumer experience (35%), lack of quality content (34%), the lack of quality inventory available programmatically (31%) and ad-blocking (30%).

More than four in ten marketers (43%) are also put off spending more on mobile video due to long load times. To address this, 40% are creating lighter video ads that will load faster. 

"It’s important for the industry to clean up ad formats and standardise them," said Caras. "By reducing the number of ad formats and making them as light and as fast as possible, we reduce lag time. It's about striking a balance between premium content and consumer expectations. 

Publishers are aware of the challenges and 52% are exploring possible solutions to implement this year.

It really is about guarding the customer experience, said Caras. "This study is aimed at raising the bar on quality, to ensure we’re promoting the rise of digital but in a way that aligns with the consumer."

Mobile is driving VR, 360 and Live video

Despite the UK’s virtual reality market standing relatively on par with the US, according to Forrester, consumers in the UK trail behind the rest of the world in terms of adoption. Only 9% expect to watch more videos in VR in the next year, compared with 31% in the US and 21% in Southeast Asia.

"When it comes to VR, it’s as much about availability and distribution as it is about interest," said Caras. "Also, it’s time to move beyond novelty and towards utility. We’re at a stage now where consumers need a reason to immerse themselves and come back for more."

For the UK specifically, Caras shared that the main reasons UK consumers stated for not watching VR is an underpowered PC (39%), the cost (32%) and the lack of relevence to them (38% said VR was only for people who play games.)

"If we focus solely on th 31% of UK consumers who are already consuming VR,  the figure rises to over a quarter (26%) who expect to spend more time watching VR in 2017," she added. "Furthermore 27% of UK consumers that have never experienced VR plan to in the next 6 months. Adding these people to the original consumers that are already using VR we get to 58% of the UK population would be using VR in the next 6 months, so, in theory, the appetite is there for the taking."

Live video adoption too is on the rise. In the UK, 60% of consumers regularly watch live video on their smartphones, compared with 66% globally. Southeast Asia leads the way with 76% followed by the US with 74%.

When it comes to live video, an average of 65% of consumers watch live video on their smartphones. Southeast Asia saw the highest result, with 76% of consumers watching live video on their smartphones. 

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