Mobile is eating the TV

There are three slides in Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2014 that tell a good story of where video is going.

The first slide shows mobile (smartphone & tablet) shipments compared to TV units. TV shipments are flatlining just under 300M whereas mobile & tablets are skyrocketing to nearly 1,5BN per year.

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The second relevant slide shows the daily distribution of screen minutes. In nearly all countries, smartphone & tablets are eating up half or more than the daily screen minutes consumed.

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The third, and probably most relevant, shows the distribution of total TV time for millennials vs. non-millennials. Almost half of the TV viewing for millennials is done on-demand or on-line.

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Five times more devices shipped per year than TVs, taking half of the daily screen consumption minutes and half of the TV viewing minutes for millennials. Mobile is eating the TV, hindered only by the lack of mainstream LTE availability. But it’s getting there, faster than any of us expected it. 

The importance of being earnest

Five years ago the Blackberry was the most loved smartphone in the world and Samsung was known for making refrigerators and TVs. Three years ago Groupon was the fastest growing company ever and Yahoo’s founder & CEO Jerry Yang was resigning. Two years ago Zynga was one of the most innovative technology companies around and Supercell wasn’t making any money (they’re now making $2M / day). It’s bewildering to observe how during the same timespan some companies have reached all-time lows while others have grown exponentially. And there’s a common denominator for the downfall and success of these companies: mobile. 

The companies that have grown over the past few years or in recent months (Apple, Samsung, Yahoo, Supercell) focused all their efforts on mobile while the ones that are quickly becoming irrelevant (Groupon, Zynga, RIM) missed the mobile step and they’re now haemorrhaging talent and money (which is ironic for RIM, creators of Blackberry, as they are after all a mobile hardware company). But besides understanding the importance of focusing on mobile if you’re running a technology company, I think there’s an even more important lesson to be learned here: earnestly observing and adopting trends. 

Trends are important because they indicate where a certain industry is going to end up, long before it becomes mainstream. There are obvious trends like mobile, wearable technology or digital currencies. But there are smaller, generally industry-specific trends that are harder to spot: in digital advertising, it’s the trend of personalising ads (by device, platform, person); in fitness, it’s the quantified self movement; in health, it’s putting medical data in the cloud. Observing trends is important because it enables entrepreneurs to identify gaps in the market before others do. 

In terms of identifying trends, it’s not rocket science. Chris Dixon put it well in a recent blog post saying that “what the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years”. Even more so, I think what the smartest people discuss online is also a good indication of what’s going to become a trend. I’m a big fan of discussion boards and community platforms like Reddit and Stack Overflow, because that’s where the geeks hang out. It’s how I first found out about Bitcoin three years ago and Ripple most recently (see? you should be on Reddit), and it’s why last year, long before our competitors, we started focusing on mobile at Brainient. Another way is to observe kids’ behaviour. Take any kid who’s ever touched an iPad and you’ll notice that they expect every electronic device to respond to touch: the TV, the laptop screen, the refrigerator.

All in all, I believe there are many ways to spot trends if you have an earnest desire to observe what’s going on around you and be willing to be laughed at by the mainstream (the way they’re currently laughing at Google Glass). But it’s an important skill to develop if you want to innovate and one that every entrepreneur should cultivate.

Video and Mobile for brands

Everybody in the tech scene is saying that 2013 is the year of mobile and I find that to be true in video as well. Since the beginning of the year we’ve already had 80% of our clients at Brainient ask for mobile demos of our interactive video ads.

We’ve been running interactive mobile video campaigns since 2012, and we’ve already seen serious uptick this year. But there are a few problems with mobile and video that brands and agencies should consider when planning their interactive video campaigns:

1. Mobile ad delivery standards are not fine-tuned. The main standards for delivering interactive video ads on mobile are MRAID AND ORMMA and Brainient supports both of them, but they’re not fully baked and often have issues (mostly in terms of tracking impressions, clicks, engagements, etc). Make sure whether results stack up right after you start the campaign.

2. Personalisation matters. What works online doesn’t necessarily work on mobile. We’ve had campaigns at Brainient that performed incredibly well online but poorly on mobile, because they were too “heavy” in terms of execution. We’ve also had mobile campaigns that outperformed the online version by an order of magnitude. Mobile interactivity needs to have a life of its own, not just be a replicate of its online version.

3. Make sure the media owners set the campaign properly (and support MRAID / ORMMA standards). Video ads on mobile is still quite a new concept and most media owners (think: apps & websites with mobile traffic) treat mobile video ads as display banners. That’s wrong, and you’ll have issues in tracking the right events. Ideally, do a test before signing a new mobile media owner.

All in all, with the right creative execution and the right audience targeting, we’ve seen mobile campaigns with stelar results in terms of brand recall and brand engagement. But it’s not as straightforward and easy to execute as it is online so make sure you get the right partner on board ;). 

Is mobile fit for brand advertisers?

By now, I’m presuming that many of you have seen this year’s Mary Meeker presentation on the state of technology, digital and the world. If you haven’t, do it now. It is breathtaking. Unsurprisingly, according to Meeker 2013 will be the year when the smartphone + tablet installed base will exceed desktops + laptops.

Also, it seems that 10% of the total media consumption time is now on mobile & tablets, but just 1% of ad spend is going into mobile. That means 9 out of 10 times we’re consuming media on a mobile, there’s no ad. So over the past few days I’ve been looking at campaign data we have at Brainient in order to see whether this discrepancy exists because mobile doesn’t perform or because it’s just a new medium and it takes time for advertisers to ramp up their spends across mobile.

According to a campaign that ran in Nov + Dec across a multitude of media owners online and on mobile, here are the brand stats that we’ve collected:

Mobile: 63.3% engagement rate, 1.4 engagements / user, 19.8% video completion rateOnline: 9.5% engagement rate, 2.7 engagements / user, 33.3% video completion rate

Now, this data is very interesting. Engagement rate is 6 times hire on mobile than online (touch, touch, anyone?), but there are less engagements per user and less viewers watching the entire video (probably because videos are slow to load over 3G). If the videos would load faster, I’m certain that completion rates would increase as well so as LTE / 4G technology will be released by operators in 2013, completion rates should increase. Combined with the amazing engagement rates we’re already seeing, it will make mobile the perfect medium for delivering brand-centric interactive video campaigns. Together with the fact that we’ll finally have the same number of mobiles + tablets as desktops + laptops, I think it’s quite obvious where advertisers should be putting their money next year.