Short-form success

Mobile Marketing

Chris Hardiman, product director at Xaxis, considers whether the arrival of 5G will help or hinder the brand-audience relationship on mobile.

Verizon’s announcement of its first 5G compatible mobile device was the talk of the town at CES 2019, and for good reason. The new and improved connectivity after the roll-out of 5G will mean consumers can do more with their devices, and it is expected to expedite the ongoing migration of users towards mobile, whether they are at home or out and about.

The 5G dividend
The impact of 5G is set to be enormous, with a projected 1.5bn users by 2024, according to WARC. The resulting boost to the economy is expected to be 3m new jobs and a $550bn contribution to growth, according to CTIA. The technology will throw open opportunities for internet-enabled assets and devices including driverless vehicles, drones or wearable technology such as smart watches and health monitors.

But, by far the biggest implication for marketers will be linked with mobile devices. Whether users are flicking through social media apps with the TV on in the background or streaming content on their daily commute, 5G will redress the frustrations of never-ending video buffering thanks to its super-fast download speeds. The result will be greater mobile accessibility wherever users are. The challenge for advertisers is to capture the imagination of the consumer in these new windows of opportunity created by increased mobile use, and short-form video is one answer to these changing media viewing habits.

According to eMarketer, two-thirds of digital viewing now takes place on mobile devices and, often happens when users are already engaged in another activity. Take watching TV as an example; even when it is supposed to be the main leisure activity, research from Skipton Building Society found the average UK viewer reaches for their mobile device after seven minutes of watching. In highly distracted times, the fact that mobile devices are almost always on hand makes them a powerful tool to reach consumers.

Social media potential
By digging deeper into user behaviour on mobile, it becomes clear that social media and entertainment apps command the most attention – with the five key areas including audio apps, social media apps like Twitter and Snapchat, mobile video, gaming and messaging. Snapchat boasts 10bn video views every day from its users, with its success attributed to short and snackable content. Short but frequent sessions have quickly become the norm for mobile users, and social media users in particular.

Time spent in-app has grown considerably over the last few years, up 50 per cent from 2016 to 2018 according to App Annie, with the average user spending up to three hours per day in a mobile app environment. And this is only set to grow with millennials fuelling demand. The implication for advertising is a growing demand for short ad content, such as six-second ads, suitable for placing within social app environments.

Far from eclipsing long-form content, short-form advertising can be used to complement a broader campaign that presents a complete brand story. Six-second video ads have been effectively deployed to reiterate core messages to consumers, which, in practice, has boosted brand awareness, reach, and recall. Hawaiian Tropic is just one of the recent brands to roll out a blend of ad lengths for a more holistic approach to its campaigns. And the results of the short-form content speak for themselves; 82 per cent of users watched half and 70 per cent watched to completion.

Fast connections, short stories
Brand content packaged into six seconds is on the up because it allows advertisers to ignite the interest of mobile users and, more specifically, mobile social media users: a huge audience, which will only grow when 5G becomes the de facto speed.

With mobile tipped by WARC to overtake TV as the largest ad medium by spend in 2019, it’s an opportunity brands can’t ignore. When short-form ads are linked into a wider and holistic campaign, including longer-form digital ads, TV ads, and offline messaging, advertisers can be sure not to miss an opportunity to capture the ever-distracted and connected consumer.