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Biggest challenges and opportunities in mobile video

As consumers increasingly embrace video on their mobile devices, content providers are scrambling to overcome challenges so they can keep up. As well, the growth is uncovering significant new opportunities upon which they can capitalize.

At the VideoNuze Video Ad Summit in New York on Tuesday, I had the privilege of moderating a panel entitled Mobile Video: Understanding the On-the-Go Viewer. Among the questions I peppered the panelists with, I asked what they saw as the most significant challenges and opportunities in mobile video. Here is what they had to say.

Biggest challenges in mobile video

Group Nine Media is a family of digital media brands including Thrillist, NowThis, and The Dodo, Seeker. Bobby LaCivita, the company’s Vice President of Research, says these brands reach over 80% of Americans in their 20s each month across a variety of platforms, including social media and owned-and-operated platforms. Such a complicated distribution strategy highlights a problem that pervades the online video industry:

Bobby LaCivita Group Nine Media

Bobby LaCivita, Group Nine Media

“I’d say fragmentation. It goes beyond devices now. The media landscape is a lot more complicated. It’s not just TV, mobile, or laptop. It’s Instagram; it’s Facebook, Snapchat. There are video formats like stories and longer form 16×9 videos. Packaging creative to work in all of them, and also the different data and viewership definitions that come from each of those platforms. The metrics available diverge pretty greatly. Coming up with consistent audience stories and ways to define performance is a big challenge.”

Ellation owns popular anime service Crunchyroll and the fandom aggregation service VRV. Henry Embleton, Head of Ad Products and Revenue for the company, focused on two issues that also bedevil many other online video providers:

Henry Embleton Elation VRV

Henry Embleton, Elation

“Filling all the ad impressions is the first one. One of the other biggest challenges is that when you’re using social and these third-party distribution platforms as a way to drive users back to your owned-and-operated site. That sort of experience is not completely connected. We’d rather drive users to our mobile metered app rather than our website because the experience is fundamentally better there.”

Penthera provides download solutions to the online video industry. The company’s Chief Revenue Officer Dan Hurwitz highlighted the need for providers to focus on excellent experiences:

Dan Hurwitz Penthera

Dan Hurwitz, Penthera

“Educating media and entertainment in the OTT space. You better take a darn good look at how you’re treating your customers, your viewer, and make sure their experience is fantastic. And if you don’t help them eliminate friction to view and discover the content and become loyal, you’re going to have a tough time when this market heats up heavily at the end of the year.”

Biggest opportunities in mobile video

Mr. Embelton says a new video format is the next big opportunity in mobile:

“Vertical video. It started on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook Watch. We are now seeing creators produce it to license to Snapchat. It won’t be long before we see Netflix providing a vertical video experience. That’s the next frontier, I think.”

One of the most important topics of discussion at the conference was advertising supported on-demand services. However, there is one feature AVOD services have not matched in SVOD, and Mr. Hurwitz thinks that provides an excellent opportunity for the industry:

“AVOD is just huge, and if we can monetize that offline, it represents a pretty good opportunity for everyone. We’re pretty excited about that.”

Sometimes markets that experience explosive growth must wait for the revenue to catch up. Mobile video is certainly experiencing explosive growth, and Mr. LaCivita thinks that it has gotten ahead of the revenue:

“As much as we’ve talked about the growth in mobile and mobile advertising, it is still under-monetized. That, to me, is the biggest opportunity there is.”


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