Mobile Video: Make the Most of Video Advertising Through Mobile

YouTube reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year olds than any cable network in the United States. This makes video vital for reaching customers in these demographics for both established brands who want younger customers and for businesses announcing a new brand to the market. Winning attention in a mobile, skippable world is possible.

Oliver Wood

YouTube reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year olds than any cable network in the United States. This makes video vital for reaching customers in these demographics for both established brands who want younger customers and for businesses announcing a new brand to the market. Winning attention in a mobile, skippable world is possible.

But it is not easy. People are advertised to all the time in all locations on all devices. As a result, they tune out ads because they are a constant in everyone’s life. There are so many ways to reach people today but the attention is very scarce. Studies even show that goldfish have a longer attention span than humans with 9 seconds compared to 8 seconds.

We have distractions today than we never imagined years ago. A study from, Ad Attention Research: Effectiveness Hinges on More Than Just Reach, demonstrates that effectiveness with advertising today hinges on more than just reach. People do not pay attention to ads - especially on TV - as they may have in the past since they are frequently multi-tasking, perhaps looking at another device or channel surfing. Since TV ads are less relevant for today’s consumer, the growth of YouTube makes that a powerful channel for marketing, especially on mobile devices.

PPC experts need to understand metrics for mobile video ads before making a decision about a platform to use for video advertising if they consider something other than YouTube. The industry-standard viewability definition for video ads is when only 50% of an ad is on-screen for 2 seconds. The sound does not even have to be on for it to be considered a view! Think of scrolling through your Facebook feed. Your behaviour on there will be recorded as a view which is unfortunate for advertisers since those ads will barely register with most viewers.

Nielsen’s “Impact of Attention” research makes it clear that this standard metric of viewability is not enough for impact. However, when there is sight and sound, 2.4 times more attention is paid to ads and are a better indicator of true viewability. Ads without sound or only subtitles simply do not do as well with attention. There is simply more recall when advertisers appeal to more than one sense.

YouTube is clearly the right platform for advertisers with the amount of reach, but there is still the risk of wasted attention when there is not a solid mobile video strategy in place before turning to paid YouTube ads. PPC experts need to win attention in the context of how people consume video and appeal to them in their language or lose to competitors that do.

The potential on YouTube is huge. People choose to watch and engage with videos because they have a choice about what they consume. Skippable ads, or TrueView videos, require the advertisers to pay only when someone makes the choice to watch it. Bumper ads are clips that can be up to six seconds long and are clearly a great option for short attention spans. These two types of video advertising work well with today’s consumer. And these ads are more likely to receive attention than TV advertising with eye tracking software showing that 83% of people paid attention to YouTube mobile ads.


Also, in Google’s Global State of Play research, they found that YouTube specifically is 93% viewable compared to 66% for the overall online video industry average and YouTube surpasses TV which has a paltry 45% for viewability! More than half of the TV ads on today are not even counted as viewable. It is clear how YouTube impacts the industry as a whole with viewability metrics and these metrics are vital for PPC experts to understand because of the correlation between watch time and brand awareness and consideration.

It seems reasonable that a 30-second TrueView might have an impact, but can a brand really convey a message and invite engagement in only six seconds with a bumper ad? TIDE Rescue was able to do just that by showing a use case for it’s washing machine product as seen below. By showing a dog on a bed, it is something all dog owners can relate to. They do not know what kind of trouble the dog got into before crawling on the comforter. The short clip presents the dilemma of possibly needing to do an extra load of laundry to clean up after the dog. The prospective customer can easily figure out the problem and recognise TIDE Rescue as the solution in only six seconds.

Other brands use bumper ads to creating new messaging and change their approach to advertising. Jeremiah Weed Spiked Ice Tea used their six second bumper ad by posing a question for people to think on while enjoying their beverage. Although the clip is primarily a static image, it clearly invites people to engage and builds brand recognition.

Utilizing both TrueView and bumper ads will help build a brand message over time on YouTube. Advertisers may initially want to put their budget into TrueView ads to enforce their message and get that reach for the first month. Once they have established some of that initial brand recognition, they can add bumper ads to show ads more frequently for less money. Advertisers who can creatively share their message in six seconds are the winners in a low attention span world.

PPC experts should put viewability to the test with their video advertising on mobile by determining what an effective CPM is within their budget and the appropriate theme of the creative for their ads. Viewability can be measured for free in AdWords with Active View metrics and there are third party options such as DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science and MOAT.

After identifying the viewability number, the next step is to audit the viewable CPM. This goes back to reach and attention. If you heave reach, but not attention, you are just wasting money. For example, if viewability is 50%, and the CPM is $10, multiple that by two for a Viewable CPM of $20. If viewability is 33% and CPM is $8, multiple by three for a Viewable CPM of $24. These calculations help determine how much of the ad is truly viewable.


To recap, YouTube mobile ads perform better than other platforms and are overall raising the average but reach is not enough; there must also be attention.

A combination of viewable and audible video ads drives engagement and brand lift, which is why . both TrueView and bumper ads are useful to get attention. Advertisers have a short period of time to garner the interest of viewers so it needs to be engaging and brief. On an ongoing basis, PPC experts should audit viewability to determine an effective CPM and include some bumper ads in a new campaign.

And finally, do not neglect the other YouTube formats. If a brand needs a big push with little time, they may want to go with a masthead over a week or invest in in-stream ads. Both are great for reach but may not have the attention desired and are more expensive. Become familiar with all the options available on YouTube for paid ads.