What makes a good mobile video ad?

3 minute read

Where did you first watch the Old Spice “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ads? Television? Laptop? Smartphone? That campaign debuted in 2010. Now, think about how many commercials you watch on your phone or tablet daily. It’s easy to tell how much our mobile viewing habits have changed in a few short years, and shows the leaps and bounds mobile video advertising will take in the near future.

CMO.com offers these valuable statistics on mobile video ads:

*Thirteen percent of online video ads run less than 15 seconds; 36 percent of online video ads run longer than 30 seconds; 79 percent of in-stream online video ads are watched to their midpoints; 72 percent of in-stream online video ads are watched to their completions.

*Consumers are 27 times more likely to click through online video ads than standard banners.

*U.S. digital video ad spending will nearly double in only four years, climbing from $4.14 billion this year to $8.04 billion in 2016.

* Native online video ads can generate 82 percent brand lift among users exposed to the ads.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau published a guide on mobile video that lays out several suggestions for the creative, technical, and business sides of mobile video advertising. The guide is really worth a full read, and not exceptionally long, but here are the highlights definitely worth mentioning:


*Instead of throwing a commercial meant for television up as a pre-roll ad, develop a creative plan that includes content specifically made for the format. Or, as the guide points out, at least plan to re-edit it.

*Keep in mind these four elements as you plan for your project: Duration, Orientation, and Interactive elements.

*Duration – If your viewers are watching a TV show on their phone or tablet, they will likely endure a :30 commercial. However, if they’re watching a :30 video, they are more likely to skip your :30 ad.

*Orientation – A small nuisance when watching video on a smartphone or tablet is the changing orientation. Locking the orientation when your video plays will keep your viewers focused on your content, rather than flipping their device around. The publisher may handle this, as well, so be sure to check with them.

*Interactive elements – What action do you want them to take if you include an interactive element?


*It’s crucial to account for different operating systems & devices, as well as minimal buffering time, encoding, resolution, and bitrate. The guide suggests encoding low, medium, and high resolution files that can be served based on available bandwidth. Always remember to test, and test well.

*Be sure your file is formatted with the correct video codec. The most popular is MP4, also known as H.264, and reaches over 90% of the mobile video audience’s devices.

*Find out if your publisher will be using inline (native) playback, or if viewers will be taken to their browser for playback. An in-app player keeps viewers contained and less likely to stray to other content, whereas browser playback will take them away from the app experience.


*Prepare proper measurement and tracking before releasing your ad. Your publisher will usually have third-party measurement set-up, but it’s important to check and set up your own if not.


Good content, designed specifically for the designated format and optimized, with efforts to consistently measure and track performance in order to keep fine-tuning the format, are the keystones of creating a great mobile ad. Ultimately, knowing how to give your viewer the best possible watching experience, is the golden ticket.

What do you think makes a great mobile video ad? Shareability? Quality? Length? Celebrities? Let’s discuss in the comments below.


steph profile for web

About the Author

Stephanie Norell is the Marketing Director for North by Northwest’s Boise office. She loves horror movies and Pinterest, adores the classic film Xanadu, and “enjoys” disseminating her thoughts for trolls to discuss online.


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