Mobile video has exploded: mobile video consumption is increasing exponentially on Facebook and mobile is where customers watch everything from video adverts to branded content – so it’s time to adapt your content to match.
People overwhelmingly prefer shorter adverts to longer ones. But on mobile, consumption is fast and attention is short, so the bar to capture and keep attention is even higher. Our research shows that video-watching on mobile is fast, frequent and needs to work with or without sound. Think about how you use your own mobile device, and those qualities will probably ring true.
TV adverts typically air in a “forced view” environment where people watch the entire spot, so it makes sense to have the punchline at the end. But on mobile, 47% of a video’s value is delivered in the first three seconds, and 74% is delivered in the first ten seconds – after that, attention starts to decline. If your brand message is at the end of a 30-second spot, this may mean people are less likely to see it.
PockeTVCs are “pocket television commercials” – a low-cost, low-barrier approach to optimising assets that you already own for a mobile audience. As of January 2017, the Creative Shop has helped over 250 clients around the world to create highly effective PockeTVCs from their existing assets. Along nearly all metrics, PockeTVCs had a higher success rate than standard TV adverts and higher than normal brand lifts.
Through our work and testing, we’ve also arrived at some early takeaways around how to create your own high-quality PockeTVCs. Below, we focus on five key principles that can help you adapt your existing TV assets and storylines to fit the best practices for mobile video.
Brand and message
We’ve mentioned this before in our Insights series but when creating content, it’s vital to deliver a clear message. Many mobile videos underperform because their message is unclear, the branding isn’t distinct or the viewer simply doesn’t know what to do next.
The earlier you can place your brand in the video and the clearer you can make the message, the better. And remember, this means more than using a logo. What other aspects of your brand are iconic or easily recognisable? A font? A colour? An aesthetic? Use these assets early and often.
Focus on communicating without words – use graphics, motion and explanatory visuals to convey your message – and set the scene quickly. Most TV adverts spend a long time setting up context but on mobile it’s important to capture attention immediately.
Typography and graphics
Clarify your message using text and graphics instead of voiceovers.
Create visual interest. The original TV advert for the new Camaro SS was almost two minutes long and didn’t reach the main message until 69 seconds in. For the mobile video advert, we introduced the product up front. We also added a visual countdown and infographics to bring attention to the car’s features.
Context is everything. To make your message is meaningful, get people oriented quickly. When running a campaign for 11/11 (the largest mobile shopping day in China), we needed to inform people who might be unfamiliar with the event. We led with a clear opening message in multiple languages: “The world’s biggest online shopping event.”
Make a cover for your story. This is a simple way to add words or context that would probably be delivered via audio in a TV advert. For an Alzheimer’s Research advert, we got people to tune in with a title card advertising that the spot was narrated by a well-known celebrity.
Crops and ratios
How can you frame your asset to make the most of the content and space?
Optimise your ratios for mobile. Square and vertical videos often perform better on mobile – people don’t have to turn their phones sideways to get the full effect. Brand lift tests show a three to nine-point lift for vertical videos compared to horizontal ones. We recommend a 4:5 ratio for Instagram and 2:3 for Facebook feed.
Play with grids and stacked images. We know the mobile screen is small, but there’s so much you can do with it. Try splitting the screen to show two or more parallel storylines at once. For a Beck’s lager advert, we used split screens to juxtapose hero product shots alongside the story to deliver more visual drama and rhythm.
Be clear with your benefit. Lead with a single focused message around what you’re offering and hone in visually on your product or promotion.
Deliver your full message within an optimal time frame for mobile.
Play with shorter spots. What can you communicate in an extra short time frame? Focus on the key takeaway or benefit. We’ve seen great success with six-second spots in feed and 15-second spots in stream.
Start with your most intriguing frame. Select one or two key frames to bring your message together effectively and in less time. Attention on mobile is an action – make sure you reward it.
Use several short vignettes with the same end reveal. This is a punchy alternative to longer TV adverts. If your TV spot has a lot of good material that can’t be easily condensed, try splitting it up into a mini-series of short spots that end with the same clear message.
Story arcs and remixes
Experiment with new ways to tell a story beyond the traditional narrative arc.
Play with speed. The speed with which we consume content on mobile has increased. People are mesmerised by speedy visuals, so challenge what’s possible – how much can they read or understand in a short amount of time?
Start with the end. Flip your story around to deliver the message quicker. What if you started with the main point?
Create a rhythm or a “heartbeat”. Creating visual rhythm or repetition can give your video the same addictive backbeat as sound often provides in a TV advert.
In short, look objectively at your TV advert as a collection of assets rather than one untouchable narrative. You can create more visual interest and drama when you distance yourself from the story arc of the original spot. Splice, dice and rearrange the story to create something totally new for mobile. You’ll make your mobile spots more entertaining and impactful when you use stills, slides and loops to supplement or even replace video.
In April 2017, we worked with McDonald’s Malaysia to turn its original TVC assets into six mobile-optimised spots – helping it achieve its highest sales month in history.
“When McDonald’s optimised their TVC content for mobile airing primarily on Facebook, we sharpened the message and focused on spicy chicken across six video and still assets. This campaign outperformed most of McDonald’s digital campaigns to date and they had to stop running the adverts because they ran out of chicken,” says Eugene Lee, Marketing Director at McDonald’s Malaysia.
Go bigger to see bigger results
If we’ve learned anything from the PockeTVCs we’ve worked on, it’s that smaller changes tend to lead to smaller impact and bigger changes tend to result in bigger impact.
Examples of smaller changes include adding a logo or subtitles to the original TVC or simply trimming the video to be shorter. Examples of bigger changes include things like weaving your message into the video in the first three seconds, bringing the story to life with dynamic supers and graphics, and exploring different aspect ratios such as split screens or grids.
The more committed you are to delivering clear messages that delight in a short time frame, the better you’ll do in the mobile environment.
Insights is part of Inspire, a year-long partnership between Creative Review, Facebook and Instagram showcasing outstanding creative work and emerging talent on both platforms. More advice and inspiration is also available at Facebook’s Creative Hub.
Creative Hub was launched in 2016 to help the creative communities understand mobile marketing. The online tool allows creatives to experiment with content formats – from Instagram video to Facebook Canvas – and produce mock-ups to share with clients and stakeholders. It also showcases successful campaigns created for mobile. Try out the mock up tool at facebook.com/ads/creativehub and see the inspiration gallery here facebook.com/ads/creativehub/gallery