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Your Complete Guide to Social Mobile Video Ads

Sprinklr Team

January 7, 2021  •  12 min read

People have been talking about the rise of mobile for years. In 2013, Time welcomed us to the Golden Age of Mobile, speculating how mobile innovation and “connected intelligence” will continue to revolutionize everything from the way we do healthcare to the ease with which we book our favorite restaurants, hotels, and cars.

There’s no denying that mobile is already an intricate part of our daily lives. Today, Americans spend more time using mobile devices than watching television. Increasingly, that time is spent watching videos. By the end of 2015, mobile video views are expected to overtake desktop video views for the first time.

And, as the audience has shifted toward mobile video, so have advertising dollars. TechCrunch reports that mobile video ad spend in the U.S. more than doubled from 2013 ($720 million) to 2014 ($1.5 billion) and will reach $6 billion in 2018, representing about half of the total online video ad spend. The tech news site hypothesizes that an abundance of high-quality video content, higher ad prices, clear KPIs for advertisers as well as publishers, and the rise of more efficient, automated marketplaces to facilitate trade will launch mobile video advertising to the next level.

Social platforms have been tooling up their mobile video ad offerings for some time now. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, SnapChat, and Instagram all offer video or some form of animated ads, and for good reason: mobile video ads drive more engagement and are more effective in influencing purchase intent.

Mobile video advertising is a complex landscape, with differences in video format, buying, targeting, and measurement options across each social platform. This post is an at-a-glance guide to social mobile video ads for the major social media platforms, including placement, targeting, availability, and case studies.

Facebook Mobile Video Ads

Mobile advertising is a big part of how Facebook makes money. In fact, it accounted for nearly 75% of the social platform’s revenue in Q1 of 2015. And, at the same time that Facebook has worked to secure its position as the leader in social ad spend, it has also begun to make its mark on video. In fact, Facebook videos get nearly 4 billion views a day, making it, as Fortune points out, YouTube’s first real rival in online video and a strong contender in the battle for digital ad dollars. In 2014 Facebook accounted for 37% of all mobile display ad dollars – more than any other platform.

Here’s Facebook’s official guide to video ads, and below is the rundown on what brands need to know about video advertising on the platform.

Introduced: Q4 2013.

Targeting: Advertisers can buy and target mobile video ads in two ways: as Standard Video Ads, which are targeted in the same way as regular Facebook ads, or as Premium Video Ads, which are targeted in a similar way to TV ads (using Gross Rating Points).

Mobile-Only Targeting: Yes.

Targeting by Device: Yes.

Video Length: Maximum 45 minutes.

Auto-Play: Yes (audio is muted until the user taps the video).

Fullscreen: Yes (once the user taps).

Viewers Can Click Through to External Site: Yes.

Call-to-Action: Facebook has a set of standard CTAs, including Shop Now, Book Now, Learn More, Sign Up, Download, and Watch More.

Availability: Standard video ads are available to all through Facebook’s advertising platform. Brands that want to run Premium Video Ads must work with Facebook reps directly and have their video ads tested and approved.

Measurement: Dedicated video metrics are coming soon.

Results: McDonald’s used mobile video ads during the 2014 FIFA World Cup to promote its videos recreating action from the soccer matches, with french fries representing players. It reached over 100m mobile users and achieved a 19% uplift in purchase intent in Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

Twitter Mobile Video Ads

Twitter has always been mobile-first, demonstrated by the fact that its ad revenue from mobile advertising climbed to 88% in Q4 2014. Twitter has aligned its ad offering closely with TV for some time now. It is seen as the second-screen platform and has various targeting options and initiatives that help TV advertisers get the most from their integrated campaigns.

A Nielsen Study commissioned by Twitter found that purchase intent was 28% higher for users who chose to watch brand videos on Twitter than for users who saw the same videos as pre- or mid-roll ads.

Twitter promoted videos appear in a user’s Twitter timeline and look just like Twitter Player Cards, which are used to play media within the Twitter platform. By using Promoted Video, it’s easy for brands to upload and distribute video on Twitter, and to measure the reach and effectiveness of this content.

Twitter also has a revenue-sharing video ads option called Amplify. Content owners, such as TV networks, use Amplify to distribute premium video clips on Twitter. Twitter then splits the revenue generated from the pre-roll ads it serves before the video clips.

Here’s Twitter’s official guide to video ads, and below is the rundown on what brands need to know about video advertising on the platform.

Introduced: Q3 2014.

Targeting: Video ads offer standard Twitter targeting available with all ads alongside TV ad targeting, which allows brands to target users on Twitter who are likely to have seen their TV ad.

Mobile-Only Targeting: Yes.

Targeting by Device: Yes. Advertisers can also adjust targeting settings according to mobile plan carrier, OS, and users on WiFi, or target users who have recently bought their mobile device.

Video Length: Up to 10 minutes.

Auto-Play: Twitter has just announced that it’s rolling out auto-play video. Until June 2015, users had to tap the video to play.

Fullscreen: Yes, once the user taps. Audio is also enabled.

Viewers Can Click Through to External Site: No.

Call-to-Action: No.

Availability: Twitter’s video ads are only available to partners via their account representative, while Amplify is restricted to media companies and broadcasters.

Measurement: Twitter has built-in video analytics tools that can report on views and percentage of completed views as well as compare organic and paid performance.

Results: Adidas used TV Ad Targeting to continue the storyline from its #QuickAintFair TV spots with video content made specifically for Twitter. Adidas saw a 59% lift in engagement rates and a 17% increase in top of mind awareness.

Pinterest Cinematic Pins

Although Pinterest is a relative newcomer to advertising, big things are expected from the scrapbooking app. Its unique object-based setup means that advertising and e-commerce are a natural fit.

Pinterest recently announced the launch of its first animated Pin (and its answer to video ads), called Cinematic Pins. Strictly speaking, Pinterest’s Cinematic Pins aren’t video; they’re gif-like animations that play backwards and forwards as the user scrolls up and down.

Below is the rundown on what brands need to know about video advertising on the platform.

Introduced: Q2 2015.

Targeting: Pinterest recently announced an upgrade to their targeting, which now allows advertisers to hone in on users based on interests like traveling, personas like foodies, or generations like millennials.

Mobile-Only Targeting: Not known.

Targeting by Device: Not known.

Video Length: Cinematic Pins are around 30-50 frames long. The animations must be short enough to play in full before the user scrolls past the ad.

Auto-Play: No. Animation is controlled by scrolling.

Fullscreen: When the user taps on the Cinematic Pin, the Pin opens fullscreen and the cinematic Pin plays fullscreen (Pinterest calls this action a “closeup”).

Viewers Can Click Through to External Site: Not reported, but based on the way Pinterest is set up this is highly likely.

Call-to-Action: Again, highly likely.

Availability: Not fully available yet. Pinterest is testing with select ad partners.

Measurement: Pinterest has an analytics platform, but it hasn’t revealed any upgrades for Cinematic Pins.

Results: No public results yet.

Snapchat Mobile Video Ads

Snapchat is another newcomer to mobile advertising, and, like Pinterest, it’s pushing the boundaries of the format.

Snapchat has been experimenting with various mobile ad placements, which include two types of video ads. Its feature ad placement appears in a user’s friends list under the Recent Updates section. These ads are shown to all users in the targeted country, and users must tap the ad to play the video in full, just like a normal Snapchat message.

For a full explanation, see What Marketers Need to Know About Snapchat Ads.

Snapchat also runs video ads within Discover, its news section. The ads automatically play as a user swipes to view the next piece of Discover content, and they can be swiped away if the user doesn’t want to view the entire ad.

To find out more about Discover, see How 6 Big Brands are Advertising on Snapchat Discover.

Snapchat recently announced a restructuring of its Discover ads, standardizing the price for a 10-second video ad at two cents per view (this brought the price down from around $0.15 per view).

Below is the rundown on what brands need to know about video advertising on the platform.

Introduced: Q4 2014.

Targeting: Targeting is limited to country. Brands can target Discover ads based on the demographics of each channel. However, Snapchat gathers data about its users, so more detailed tracking is possible.

Mobile-Only Targeting: Yes, Snapchat doesn’t have a desktop version.

Targeting by Device: No.

Video Length: The standardized two cents video ads have a ten-second limit. Premium ads can be longer. There are no other publicized time limits.

Auto-Play: Only for Discover ads.

Fullscreen: All video ads play fullscreen in portrait mode. This means that users don’t have to rotate their device to view in fullscreen, which Snapchat says improves performance.

Viewers Can Click Through to External Site: No.

Call-to-Action: No.

Availability: Available to all.

Measurement: No tracking (other than views), so the effectiveness of campaigns must be measured externally (e.g., brand uplift or ad recall).

Results: There aren’t any published results for Snapchat ads. Universal reported “views in the millions” and followed up their Ouija campaign with an ad for Dumb and Dumber To.

YouTube Mobile Video Ads

There are two main types of mobile video ads on YouTube. First, there are Mobile Roadblocks, which are one-day ads on the homepage of the YouTube mobile site (they do not appear on the YouTube mobile app). Then there are InStream Video Ads, which are shown to Android YouTube app users and mobile site users when they play a video from a premium inventory partner.

TrueView allows brands to pay only when a viewer chooses to watch a video.

Here’s YouTube’s guide to mobile marketing, and below is the rundown on what brands need to know about video advertising on the platform.

Introduced: Q1 2010.

Targeting: YouTube Mobile Ads are managed through the same AdWords interface as Google Search ads and the Google Display Network.

Mobile-Only Targeting: Yes.

Targeting by Device: Yes.

Video Length: 45 minutes max.

Auto-Play: Yes. Brands have the option of using auto-play (skippable and non-skippable) and click-to-play within search listings.

Fullscreen: Yes, if the user is watching in fullscreen mode.

Viewers Can Click Through to External Site: Yes.

Call-to-Action: Yes. Fully customizable.

Availability: Available to all advertisers.

Measurement: YouTube has built-in video performance measurement including demographics, engagement, how viewers discovered your video, and more.

Results: Rosetta Stone leveraged YouTube’s video Masthead on mobile and TrueView to target Millennials where they spend most of their time: on their phones. This generated a 10X increase in mobile traffic and a 51% increase in YouTube Channel subscribers.

Instagram Mobile Video Ads

Video was a huge success for Instagram when it was introduced in mid-2013, so introducing video ads was a natural next step. And while other platforms still struggle to generate revenue or profit, Instagram is expected to pull in $2 billion in ad revenue next year – all from mobile ads.

Apart from a “Sponsored” label in the top right corner, Instagram’s video ads look the same as user-posted videos. Videos on Instagram are limited to 15 seconds in length and play within the Instagram feed (they don’t pop out fullscreen).

Introduced: Q4 2014.

Targeting: Advertisers can adjust targeting according to age, gender, and country. More options are expected to be released soon, such as wider demographics and custom audiences (the ability to upload existing customer data, including a list of email addresses, and target those customers on Instagram).

Mobile-Only Targeting: Not known.

Targeting by Device: Not known.

Video Length: Maximum 15 seconds.

Auto-Play: Yes.

Fullscreen: No.

Viewers Can Click Through to External Site: Instagram is currently experimenting with click through buttons.

Call-to-Action: See above.

Availability: Not widely available yet, but Instagram is working toward an ads API and adding Instagram ads to Facebook’s ad buying interfaces.

Measurement: As Instagram video ads are not yet widely available, there aren’t any details on measurement. Instagram ads are integrated into Facebook’s ad interfaces, so it’s likely that it will also use Facebook’s measurement tools.

Results: No published results from video ads.

Mobile First

News that Facebook now generates 73% of its ad revenue from mobile advertising is confirmation that social media is now mobile first. Add to that the prediction that by the end of 2016 smartphones will account for nearly one-half of all online video ad plays, and it’s clear that social mobile video ads are a hot property.

While video ads are at the forefront of mobile advertising, there is still room for further innovation. Facebook has been exploring the possibility of fullscreen interactive ads that include text, images, and video.

These new mini-site ads can also include fully-interactive elements – such as 360 degree rotating products – or take advantage of touch screen navigation like swipes and pinches.

If these fullscreen interactive ads get results on Facebook, we’ll probably see a similar type of branded mini-site ad from other social platforms.

Instagram could easily incorporate them into their new Carousel Ads. Twitter could already be planning something similar, as it recently revealed that it has big ideas for Twitter cards. And this kind of interactive content would also work perfectly between news items on Snapchat Discover.

Over to you: which mobile video ads will you be adding to your media plans this summer?

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