Three mobile video marketing trends to capitalize on

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David Rowley
David Rowley

If 2011 was the breakout year for mobile marketing, then 2012 looks to be the year brands successfully bring video into the mobile marketing mix. Increases in smartphone and tablet adoption combined with faster mobile broadband speeds mean the market is ready for video on-the-go.

In fact, consumers are already accustomed to watching video on the small screen. Thanks to mobile entertainment apps like Netflix, YouTube, and HBO GO, and video-rich mobile sites like ESPN, the consumer behavioral shift has already taken place. Within one week of launching, the HBO GO app was downloaded over one million times. ESPN, who has been the #1 sports destination on mobile devices since 2007, now has more than 20 million mobile viewers and has stated that mobile is the company's fourth-largest network.

By the end of 2011, mobile video traffic was 52% of all traffic, with more than 30 million U.S. consumers already watching video on their mobile phones. In order to take advantage of mobile video, marketers need to be aware of opportunities emerging in the mobile space.

As technologies evolve, new marketing channels are opening up for delivering highly targeted, high-impact video ads to a growing base of mobile viewers. Need examples? Here are three innovative strategies to consider for your 2012 mobile marketing campaigns.

In-game video ads

Still in the early phases of monetization, mobile apps have relied primarily on paid downloads and display ads to bring in cash. However, as publishers become savvier about the advertising options available, there's increasing experimentation with video sponsorship. Just as video broke through the display ad market on PC browsers, it is now entering the mobile app world. For example, the ad-supported version of the popular mobile game Words with Friends now includes video ads among the commercial messages it inserts between player moves. These “unskippable” video ads take advantage of a captive audience during game play.

The value of these high-impact in-game video ads is such that innovations in the category are emerging quickly. New technology makes it possible to interact with mobile video ads without ever leaving the primary game experience. This technology makes in-app video ads “tappable,” allowing users to launch a landing page for more product information without exiting the app to go to a mobile browser. Advertisers gain the opportunity for deeper engagement through interactive video, while publishers increase the value of ad inventory within the mobile app domain.

Location-based video marketing

Location-based applications are not only a new channel for online marketers; they also provide a unique targeting opportunity for reaching out to a very select consumer audience. Location awareness means marketers can deliver messages to consumers when they're near a physical point of purchase. That targeting by location — combined with growth in mobile video viewing — creates a powerful new communications channel.

There are a few different ways advertisers can use video to take advantage of new location-based apps. One is to buy video ad placements strictly based on geography. Another is to run video ads with a local incentive, like NBC did when it ran a trailer of America's Next Great Restaurant through LivingSocial. Targets were offered an additional discount on restaurant vouchers from the daily deal site in return for watching the NBC video.

Finally, advertisers can use video in enhanced directory listings available through location-based apps like Yelp. To date, Yelp does not offer the ability to publish video in directory listings on its mobile apps, but it does promote video use in the listings on its website. And Yelp's CEO has promised that mobile will play a major role as the company heads toward a planned IPO in 2012.

Social video goes mobile

Online video testimonials made it big when retail giant Amazon introduced the feature in 2007. However, this type of user-generated video hasn't played a large role in the mobile space. Despite the fact that mobile devices offer one of the best channels for sharing content, many marketers haven't extended support for video reviews to their mobile browsers and apps.

Fortunately, social networks are opening up a new avenue for video marketing. Take ShoeDazzle. The shoe company, cofounded by Kim Kardashian, started soliciting short customer video reviews in 2011. Rather than simply post those videos on its main site, ShoeDazzle also distributes its new video content via YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Through those social networking channels, ShoeDazzle is taking its user-generated video mobile. It's a simple solution to a previously difficult distribution problem, and for ShoeDazzle, it's proven highly effective.

Social networking channels are also an opportunity for marketers to make their viewers more involved and active participants and to foster a two-way communication between audiences and brands.

For example, when viewers visit the CENTURY 21 mobile-optimized microsite that was built by Cyberitas, they can watch the company's recent Super Bowl commercial featuring Donald Trump, Dion Sanders, and Apollo Ono, as well as a video highlighting the making of the commercial and six additional versions of the ad. Viewers are prompted to vote for the CENTURY 21 commercial, which brings them to You Tube's Ad Blitz, where viewers can watch, vote and comment on their favorite 2012 Super Bowl commercials.

As consumers turn more and more to mobile video for entertainment, they are also establishing new behavioral patterns that benefit the marketing community. Mobile video opens up new marketing channels that are both targeted and engaging. This is a trend in its early stages, but one that offers marketers immediate opportunities — and promises to become even more compelling in the months ahead.

David Rowley is VP of products and services, mobility and monetization solutions, at Limelight Networks.

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