Mobile Video Consumption Tech Trends

Mobile video consumption continues its upward surge, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. By 2019, video will make up 80 percent of all internet traffic, according to Cisco.

In the second quarter of 2018, smartphone-only video starts topped 50% for the first time globally — surging 9.8%, the largest increase in five quarters. This finding in the Q2 2018 Global Video Index Report by Ooyala occurred as mobile video consumption combined with season finales on television shows, sports season finales, and new content initiatives.

“More content creators, seeing the trend toward greater long-form video consumption on mobile devices — a trend we’ve been noting since last year — are now developing content concurrently for multiple platforms and are transitioning beyond snackable mobile-only content,” said Jim O’Neill, Ooyala principal analyst.

The 50% smartphone video starts represented a 13.2% year-over-year change. There were a number of other key findings by Ooyala by region:

  • North America: Total long-form time watched on smartphones topped 75%, mobile plays increased to 56% of all video starts (up 4% year-over-year and up 14% since Q2 2016), and mobile starts exceeded 50% for the past eight quarters.
  • Europe-Middle East-Africa (EMEA): Mobile video hit 54% of all starts, up from 49% a year ago.
  • Asia-Pacific (APAC): Mobile video’s share of all plays was 74% — the highest ever, and up 64% in two years.
  • Latin America: Mobile starts topped 65%, an increase of 20% year-over-year and 38% over two years.

Mobile video is just getting stronger and stronger, and the 2018 Q2 report indicates that Q3 numbers will see an even more massive uptick. There is an unprecedented consumer demand for mobile, and content distributors need to take advantage of this. Mobile video is a space for incredible opportunity for digital publishers — especially in long-form content.

O’Neill says that content owners should be treating their technology operations much as manufacturing-based industries treat manufacturing operations. “The move to a ‘content supply chain’ is a fundamental, data-driven change transforming the media industry.”

Case Study: National Football League (NFL), United States

Mobile Video Consumption Tech Trends

Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

American football is huge — and its consumption via mobile video viewing is rapidly becoming one of the content success stories of the decade. A recent NFL report showed a 65% increase in viewing on digital devices over the past year, and a 147% boom in smartphone NFL content consumption during the 2018 season.

Legacy TV shows, as well as advertisers, have long taken advantage of the massive viewership of NFL games to drive traffic to their television content and products. Network series are heavily promoted during games, and a new trend is “shoulder” or companion programming — complementary shows that capitalize on the enormous popularity of the NFL to draw viewers.

Marketers, too, do exceedingly well with advertising during professional football games. According to the NFL, the average game gets over 20 million viewers, accounting for 46 of the top 50 most-watched fall shows on TV — and that’s just for the regular season. Advertisers shell out upwards of $625,000 for a single 30-second spot on Sunday Night Football. Once the playoffs start, the stakes get even higher, leading to the Holy Grail of football season: the Superbowl.

This one game every January or February is the most-watched television show in the United States, with more than 100 million viewers according to Nielsen data. The cost for a 30-second commercial during that game is around $5 million — more than the base salary of many top players in the game. Ads are highly anticipated, watched and shared by viewers as well, and have become one of the most talked-about aspects of the Superbowl. And many of these ads, along with the game, are being live-streamed on mobile devices, creating a spillover effect for content distributors.

It’s Not Just One Screen

One of the most fascinating aspects of NFL games, indeed of mobile video in general, is the multiple-screen usage. People are watching entire NFL games on their smartphones; but they’re also watching the games on TV while they search their phones for player stats, check their fantasy football standings, text friends, or post about the game on social media. In fact, more than 90% of Millennials and 85% of Generation X are using at least two screens while watching television, according to Statista.

What does this mean for content publishers? Finding ways to capitalize on a highly-watched program or trend, whether that is NFL football or something else, can result in higher viewing numbers and new users. But what’s just as important is making sure that your content is interconnected with how people are utilizing video: with programmatic display, geotargeting, and interconnectedness with social media.

For example, during the Superbowl of 2015, fully half of all advertisers used hashtags in their commercials — a number that has surely gone up by now. Partnerships such as that between the NFL and Twitter, allowing games to be livestreamed on Twitter throughout the season, are becoming incredibly powerful.

Mobile Video Strategies

Of course, most companies can’t afford $5 million for a Superbowl ad, or even half that for a regular season game. But publishers can find ways to create related content that will flow seamlessly to their users and customize to their interest in the game.

Take sports video game developer EA Sports, for example. By fusing real-time NFL data into their video ads, they ensured high levels of fan interaction by delivering custom affinity targeting on the fly across sports mobile sites and apps. They also created the wildly popular Madden GIFERATOR, using pioneering technology to generate shareable GIF highlights during every game. This also allowed them to connect more heavily with a younger audience.

Mobile Video Consumption Tech Trends

Credit: Think With Google


Advanced geotargeting also allows content distributors to target on a hyper-local basis — whether that means the hometown of the sports team playing, or targeting a specific area at lunchtime with mobile restaurant videos and ads.

Case Study: Pernod Ricard, United Kingdom

Spirits maker Pernod Ricard, whose brands include Absolut, Chivas Regal and Jameson, achieved incredible success with a geotargeting campaign aimed at travelers in airports across the U.K.

As people made their way through the airport, Pernod Ricard promoted the brand’s whiskies through mobile ads, providing a map and directions to the nearest duty-free store to purchase the products before take-off. Daniel Miller, digital manager of travel retail for EMEA, attributed the success of this campaign to effective audience targeting and mobile-specific creatives.

According to the Verve report “Location Powered Mobile Advertising: The Impact on the Quick Service and Casual Dining,” location-targeted mobile ad campaigns are shown to be more effective than those without a geo-targeting element.

Mobile Video Consumption Tech Trends

Long-Form Video is King

Ooyala has also found that long-form video is the most popular content, regardless of screen size. Short-form video still might have the greatest chance of being watched in its entirety, but long-form represents the majority of time spent watching any video, on any screen (63%).

“Much of that is due to the increasing amount of premium content that services are now making available to all devices,” Ooyala found in their Q1 2017 report. “As longer content becomes more prevalent, short-form is losing its dominance, particularly as larger mobile screens are now more common.”

For digital publishers, the takeaway is that a combination of short and long video content could prove to be a good strategy. Similarly, a blend of evergreen content and live, on-demand video can both drive engagement and build a content library that will continue to be relevant. Several trending areas that content producers might want to focus on include:

  • Vertical video. Most people hold their phone upright when capturing content such as Snapchat and Instagram Stories, and Facebook recently upgraded to a default vertical video orientation. People watch longer, and with the sound on, with vertical view. Content producers would be wise to embrace the vertical format.
  • Live video. According to Facebook, live videos have six times the engagement of pre-recorded videos. Savvy brands will implement live-streaming across mobile apps and social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
  • Micro-moment storytelling. While long-form feature videos are watched more and longer, Stories can be told in short increments with bite-sized videos. People tend to explore the digital world in short bursts, and particularly for publishers who are marketing a product, restaurant, service, activity, etc., capturing their attention in these micro-moments are opportunities to connect through storytelling.
  • Be real, intimate and edgy. The videos and brands that people engage with the most, and go back to again and again, are those that capture human experiences and emotions. They let people in, use authentic storytelling, and create a unique voice.
  • Geo-located video. Take a look at Snapchat’s Snap Maps, and you’ll see what a big role location plays in video, as we’ve already discussed. Facebook’s Live Location and YouTube’s Director Mix also provide ways for publishers to connect in a hyper-localized way.


Video storytelling offers an opportunity to ride a trend that is only beginning to build momentum. With new technologies emerging every day and the rise of components like virtual reality and live video, the options for creating compelling video that creates a two-way conversation with the viewers are growing. Smart content publishers will incorporate video into their mobile video consumption strategy to connect with their audience and build relationships like never before.

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