June 15, 2017

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To put things into perspective, let’s remember that radio was the most important medium in 1951, representing a $210 million dollar business compared to mere 12.3 million for TV.

It took time to figure out advertising on TV. Marketers were not accustomed to creating shorter TV commercials, initially opting for spots that were 90 seconds long. However, just one year later, the TV commercial became the dominant creative market asset. But times are different now, and consumption habits are changing.

Marketers scramble to adjust to the shifts. Translating a big idea onto a small screen is no easy feat. It’s even harder to understand how to take a traditional video asset, which averages from 15-20 seconds long, and convert it to the smartphone.


But it's important to adapt.

With 89% of all phone-users admitting to using their mobile device while they watch TV, television commercials have begun to dwindle. Smartphones are not televisions. There, I said it. If you consider the current trends on platforms like Facebook, Google, Snapchat, and Instagram, we know that short-from burst videos are the flavor du jour. But with faster navigation speeds and a dwindling cultural attention span, completing videos is in no one’s best interest.

Consumers want to be dazzled by a message that gets to the point, allowing them to quickly move on to something else. Top mobile platforms understand that VCR (Video Completion Rate) is not how you measure the effectiveness of a video ad. Out of habit, though, we continue to churn out TV ads on the Internet, because it is hard for us to think with renewed vigor.

The tendency is to either force or incentivize views through shoddy UI gaming experiences, while ad exchanges everywhere dangle video inventory around like it is the last item on a rack. But are traditional forms of ads on mobile the right forms? Traditional pre-roll assets have driven the rise of ad-blocking because people don’t want to watch them. It seems so obvious that mobile ads can achieve more with less, and luckily, advertisers are finally starting to experiment. Google launched bumper ads this month, which helped raise the question: is it time to re-think video for a mobile first-world?


Big ideas for small screens.

Kargo recently tested a variety of video ad formats in partnership with WPP-owned Kantar, exploring everything from more traditional video assets to shorter form solutions like in-article video. Let me caveat all this by saying that we at Kargo understand that pre-roll has an advantage: it’s really easy to use those same traditional assets that were created for the rest of your media campaign. But, on mobile screens, it just doesn’t translate.

Our research revealed that 76% of people will skip pre-roll if given the opportunity and 15% of people will do something else while it plays, if possible. For example, seeing a traditional ad = making a phone call.

Consider if we looked beyond VCR, and instead at top funnel metrics like recall, favorability, and awareness. When a consumer likes an ad they see on mobile they remember it fast. Fast like under three seconds fast. Small, but highly-viewable, video teasers anchored to the bottom of the screen vs. traditional long form assets, were 76% more likely to be remembered by a consumer. In-article units saw 27% greater brand favorability than pre-roll and people looked back an average of 4x after the initial onset of the ad.

You may be asking yourself if it’s even possible to take a creative approach to an ad lasting only a few seconds. The answer is yes.


Rethinking mobile, creatively.

Take a canvas, for example, an easy add onto a video ad that increases branding and makes for a more aesthetically pleasing user experience. Canvassed units saw an 85% greater unaided recall, 19% greater brand favorability, and 12% greater ad likability in the video ad study. When questioned about their perception of ad formats other than pre-roll, study respondents thought all were more innovative, memorable, modern, and informative.

All I can suggest, is that marketers think a bit more deeply and ask themselves questions before implementing their next campaign strategy. Questions like, “is VCR the right KPI to measure effectiveness?”

If you’re going to take one thing away from this, remember: Let’s not do to mobile what we did to TV. Let’s do it in a new way. Let’s do it the right way.


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