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Op-Ed | Your Ads Need Mobile Video

Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends report shows mobile video advertising is significantly under-exploited. Fashion brands would be wise to move fast, argues Qasim Mohammad.
Source: Internet Trends 2015 report by Mary Meeker for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
  • Qasim Mohammad

TORONTO, Canada — Advertising is the yin to fashion's yang. Successful fashion businesses use advertising tactics that constantly adapt to how people consume and share content. Today, these brands realise the importance of connecting with an audience that is digital to its core.

Due to the advent of the Internet, smartphones, and mobile applications, advertising is now primarily conducted online. According to the Internet Advertising Bureau’s 2014 report on internet advertising revenue, US spend on Internet advertising for the year totalled $49.5 billion, up 16 percent from the $42.8 billion reported in 2013. These enormous annual jumps have become routine. More people are consuming content digitally and, naturally, advertising dollars are following them there.

However, online advertising spend is not proportionate to the amount of time consumers are devoting to mobile content consumption. According to this year's Internet Trends report by Mary Meeker, partner at venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and former Wall Street technology analyst, 24 percent of time spent consuming media in the US is via mobile devices. And although mobile content consumption is accelerating at a rate of 34 percent year-on-year, a disproportionate eight percent of total advertising spend in the country is allocated to this medium. In comparison, 24 percent of time spent consuming media is through conventional desktop devices and a more proportionate 23 percent of total advertising spend is attributed to this category. This is despite the fact that growth in desktop content viewership is decelerating.

The disproportionately low investment in mobile advertising suggests advertisers have yet to fully wake up to the popularity of this content medium and develop mobile-optimised messaging. Fashion labels should turn to mobile advertising inventory as an opportunity to reach their target demographic, as the new mobile environment has yet to become saturated by commercial messaging.

Meeker’s report also suggests that content in video format is gaining considerable traction globally. Brands looking to connect with a fashion audience should take note that, in 2014, consumer Internet video traffic represented 64 percent of overall online consumer traffic worldwide. This is up from 62 percent in 2013 and 57 percent in 2012.

Fashion labels can interpret this as a green light to allocate larger shares of their advertising budgets to digital video content production. And, suffice to say, optimising video content for mobile can maximise this investment, due to the increase in viewership on smartphone and tablet devices.

For brands keen to take advantage of these emerging trends in mobile and video advertising, Facebook Ads represents a viable pay-to-play solution. Facebook is positioning itself as a powerful platform to publish content to a sizeable audience — as reported by the company, Facebook now generates over four billion video views per day, up 400 percent from the third quarter of 2014. And, as one would expect, 75 percent of all video on Facebook is currently consumed via mobile devices. Most fashion businesses already have a Facebook presence. Extending this presence to include mobile-optimised video can generate even more meaningful impressions for a brand.

YouTube offers another option for pay-to-play mobile video advertising. According to Google, YouTube’s percentage of video views from mobile has doubled in the last year and video viewing activity on YouTube Mobile has tripled. Many brands are already uploading original content disguised as online advertising onto the site. Going a step further and investing in a mobile-optimised YouTube video campaign can help fashion labels spread their message through the platform’s 13 million monthly users in the US alone.

The world of online advertising is immensely diverse and transforming quickly. A successful online advertising strategy needs to cut through a noisy landscape and deliver a clear, concise message to a target audience. Fortunately, there are still under-indexed advertising opportunities in mobile and Internet video. If leveraged immediately, these opportunities can help fashion brands capture the attention of a mobile audience that is becoming increasingly distracted.

Qasim Mohammad is an analyst at OMERS Ventures, a Canadian venture capital fund.

The views expressed in Op-Ed pieces are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Business of Fashion.

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