This is part 3 of a 5-part series about my time at the SXSW Interactive Conference 2017. I’ve consolidated information around five trends and some of the most interesting things I learned about each of them. (Originally sent as a series of emails to a smaller group of associates, RPA thought this was so great that we decided to archive them on our website.)

Today’s trend is mobile video – and how it’s evolving, or maybe not evolving, with the changing video distribution landscape.

I thought one speaker had a really interesting analogy for the current state of video advertising. She showed an example of the first TV spot that ever ran, which was essentially VO with a static image on the screen ( And said that’s basically where we are at with the maturity of mobile video.

A lot of brands are taking :30 TV creative and running it on mobile placements. But the way we experience mobile video is much different than TV. You might be inclined to think people parked in front of their 60” HD TVs are more immersed. More attentive. But the living room video experience is a very distracted one. Nielsen reported in 2015 that people only had their heads up 35% of the time when watching TV. In contrast, you have your mobile device close to your face, minimizing distraction and resulting in a bigger, higher def and more immerse picture in front of you. Biometric responses to full-screen (vertical) mobile video show that people have more emotional reactions to moments on mobile versus TV screens, allowing for deeper neural connections with brands.

Given that industry digital ad spend is even with, and about to surpass, TV ad spend, many speakers talked about having reached a tipping point with mobile video. How do we take advantage of this opportunity? Create content with mobile in mind. Here’s are some key differences and best practices that were discussed across a variety of sessions at SXSW Interactive.

Background on TV versus digital/social video consumption

  • In the social feed, you only have 1 second to get people to engage, 2-3 seconds to get them to activate audio before scrolling or tapping past
    • The TV audience is passive vs a more engaged and active mobile audience, making people much less likely to watch something they don't like on mobile
  • We are in the video paradigm with social media. First social was mainly text based. Then it moved to photo. Then to video. Think about what people posted when Michael Jackson died versus Prince. MJ tributes were mainly photos. Prince tributes were predominantly video
  • Facebook makes up 1 out of 5 mobile minutes
  • People spend an average of 1.7 seconds per piece of content in mobile feed. Millennials even less
  • People are consuming content in a variety of environments – there’s no one stop shop. Sometimes with sound on and off
    • Per Facebook, only 24% of ads that are currently running on mobile are understandable without sound
  • 3x more people were engaged when the brand and message were presented in first 10 seconds
    • Less than half of creative currently running had clearly identifiable brand cues
    • 47% of campaign actions driven in first 3 seconds. 74% in first 10 seconds

How to make video designed for the mobile feed

  • Capture attention quickly. Move your celebrity to forefront. Lead with the most interesting
  • Design for sound off, delight with sound on to enhance
  • Frame your visual story for vertical
  • Consider targeting, sequencing - don't think about it as a single video exposure
  • Think about video creation for mobile as a transformation versus just a transition. This isn’t like when we moved from 4:3 to 16:9. We need to abandon all our preconceived notions of what video is. Can be interactive. Immersive. Slowed down. Shot from the palm of your hand

How to optimize TV creative for the mobile feed

  • Cut content down to a single vignette
  • Make it square
  • Move brand mention further up
  • Add supers. Bold supers over content is acceptable in a mobile setting to provide content for what you’re seeing