Facebook: marketers should mobile-optimize their video content

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Marketers should mobile-optimize their video content
Marketers should mobile-optimize their video content

According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2015–2020, video mobile traffic is and will continue to be the fastest growing type of mobile traffic. Video accounted for 55 percent of all mobile data traffic last year; Cisco projects that this figure will grow to 75 percent in 2020.

Facebook cited the latter statistic in a Facebook for Business blog post on April 20. The company has been extensively testing how its users interact with and respond to video – particularly via mobile – and took the opportunity to advise its business users on how to use video effectively based on Facebook's research. This advice boils down to five words: Video and mobile are inseparable.

"The best way to ensure video creative works in the mobile-feed environment is to build with mobile in mind from the start," reads Facebook's blog. "When you don't have the opportunity to start from scratch on mobile video assets, cutting, editing and reworking long-form video ads can be a fast and effective way to create video ads for the mobile- feed." 

Facebook's mobile video data indicates that users spend an average of 1.7 seconds on a piece of content in their News Feed when using a mobile device – as opposed to 2.5 seconds on a desktop, so getting marketers to edit their content down is a priority for the social network. For months, Facebook has recommended that marketers create and edit their content such that it creates an instant connection with users. The company's blog goes urges using vivid imagery, action scenes, and even recognizable celebrities – anything to make users want to stop and stay longer than a second or two. The company further suggests that brands play with zoom and crop features to optimize their content for a small smartphone screen. 

But perhaps the most important part of this mobile-friendly editing process involves including captions in video and otherwise making video content accessible and friendly for those not using sound. Two months ago, the company confirmed what everyone in the world who is not a digital marketer or web designer has known for years – that users hate getting ambushed by surprise sound on webpages. 

"In mobile-feed environments, people prefer having the choice to opt in to sound," blogged Facebook (note that that reads "opt in"). "Our research found that when feed-based mobile video ads play loudly when people aren't expecting it, 80% react negatively, both toward the platform and the advertiser." 

Meanwhile, Facebook reports that its own tests have shown a 12-percent average increase in video view time for captioned video ads. To further help advertisers, the company announced that it will soon release a tool that will allow advertisers to caption their ads automatically without having to upload their own or use embedding. 

Of course, Facebook is not the only company to recognize the mobile-video connection--and its importance. Twitter has also conducted mobile use studies--and joined their data with Facebook's to make video marketing recommendations together in a joint report. Google, meanwhile, has been advising marketers to "build for mobile" since reporting in 2014 that millennials are twice as likely to be focused while consuming video content on a smartphone than while watching television; this means that fewer millennials multitask while watching video on their smartphone than while watching TV – an important data point for the savvy marketer. Google also found that users were more likely to watch and share branded content on their smartphone than on a desktop. 

Regardless of the platform, however, the constant that remains is that video marketing and mobile marketing are star-crossed. It remains in Silicon Valley's interest, therefore, to continue to actively help advertisers on creating impactful mobile video content--and it remains in advertisers' interest to pay attention.

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