The future of mobile communications is video

When the majority of the UK population had either a dial-up internet connection or a fairly crap broadband one, watching video online could be a frustrating experience. Then connection speeds increased, and video exploded all over the internet. The growth of online video advertising is still rising at breakneck speeds, and I fully expect it to carry on doing so for many years to come.

Video is the medium that most closely resembles the way in which human beings experience real life. It fuses sight, sound and motion in a way that no other medium can equal. Just add touch and smell into the equation and you have a truly life-like message. Radio is audio only, newspaper ads, and outdoor ads are visual only in the main, although digital OOH is bring motion to the party.

I believe that well-edited and scripted video is the most effective communications medium that brands have at their disposal, and gone are the days when TV & Cinema had this power all to themselves. We truly do live now in the age of the screen.

In mobile, I think the same explosion of video viewership is just around the corner. Currently, many consumers chose to watch video only over a Wi-Fi connection because the 3G network is not always up to the task of allowing faultless playback of video. But 4G is coming, soon. In London we will have super-fast connection as soon as next year by way of the Wi-Fi network that Boris Johnson has promised in time for the Olympics. A contact at O2 tells me that they have a city-wide wi-fi network that will be free to consumers, and that is coming soon as well.

We already have apps like the ITV Rugby World Cup app, and Sky’s Go app, blazing a trail in the app store. Both are heavily reliant on video, and both were in the top ten downloads recently.

When the connection infrastructure can support the delivery of video, you can bet your bottom dollar that video consumption on smartphones will sky rocket. I already see more and more people watching video on the train into and out of London every day, but imagine filling the moments of downtime that we experience every day with rich video content. Whether it be travelling to work, waiting for a train, waiting for a mate in a coffee shop or whatever, soon we will have the option of watching great quality video on our handsets. We know that ad dollars naturally follow eyeballs, and so the question that you should be asking yourself now is, are we ready for mobile video?

While working at Telegraph Media Group, I ran a Bluetooth campaign with Bliss Mobile & American Express. It offered bored commuters who were waiting for a train to watch the latest news video from the Telegraph for free, by simply turning on their Bluetooth. What we had created here was a perfect moment to talk to consumers as they were receptive to receive content, they had nowhere to be or nothing to do for a few minutes, and we were able to deliver a short video pre-roll advert for American Express into the space before the new video. We were talking to the consumer while they are had the time and the inclination to listen, so to speak. I can’t divulge the exact results of the campaign, but I can tell you that downloads exceeded expectations ten-fold and the client was delighted with the campaign.

Mobile phones are always on, and always with you, and consumers are already using them as entertainment channels to fill downtime. When video comes of age, that experience will be one of the most powerful a brand can buy. Exciting times!

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