“Mobile first” media strategies have gained a full head of steam in almost all advertising categories, with Pharma being one of the few exceptions. Mobile video is one of the primary drivers of growth in mobile advertising, for reasons that are spurred by advanced technology as well as basic human instincts. The concept of media that is designed to be consumed on the go is not new. Humans are wired to seek information while on the move, and the ability to do so has been around for centuries. Mobile video is just the latest technology to serve our information-gathering instincts, and the phenomenal rate of adoption is logical—we learn best through visual stimulation.
Mobile media took off when smartphone sales outpaced personal computers in 2011. Paul Levinson, author of the book Cellphone, calls mobile advertising the “media-in-motion business,” a process that’s been in the works “since the first time someone thought to write on a tablet” rather than on a cave wall. The invention of the book, the transistor radio, and the portable camera foretold that the age of mobile advertising was inevitable. And most recently the rise of cloud-based technologies, mobile programmatic intelligence, and 4G mobile networks has fueled the trend towards mobile video consumption.
So why has pharma been reluctant to embrace mobile video as a way to reach healthcare consumers and professionals? The obvious answer—because it is the default answer—is that regulatory concerns block adoption. The effectiveness of mobile video advertising is closely associated with programmatic automation, and pharma’s adoption of programmatic advertising has been painfully slow—in spite of the fact that the technology serves up the right message at the right time to the right person. To put this in perspective, in 2016 programmatic advertising totaled almost $30 billion across all categories, but pharma accounted for only $370 million of that total. That’s not to say that programmatic isn’t gaining traction with some major pharma brands, who are embracing it because of cost and efficiency considerations, but universal adoption has not yet happened. Another issue holding down pharma’s mobile video spend is the almost compulsive tendency for users to share mobile video across vast social media networks, exposing brand messages and claims to the wild and unstructured wisdom of the crowd. While advertisers in other categories see this earned media as a marketer’s dream, it remains scary terrain for many pharma brands.
Once those concerns are dealt with, pharma’s adoption of mobile video is inevitable. The ability to tell a story quickly and efficiently, at relatively low cost, is too compelling to ignore. For pharma marketers willing to take the leap, here are five things to consider regarding mobile video:
- Mobile advertising in general is growing fast, and consumer acceptance is driving the growth. Mobile ad spending will reach $200 billion by 2019, a ten-fold increase over 2013. In 2016, mobile video ad spending in the United States totaled $4 billion, according to eMarketer, but that figure is expected to dramatically increase as a percentage of all mobile ad spending. According to eMarketer, “the reason video is outstripping the growth of most other mobile advertising and likely to be a multi-billion dollar industry within the year is how engaging the format is.” A 2016 survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) reported that 62% of surveyed advertisers anticipated increasing their mobile video spend in 2017, whereas only 30% of the same advertisers would increase their broadcast TV spend. According to the IAB, mobile video will continue to show a “substantial increase” in growth compared to digital video in general. Philipp Schindler, Google’s Chief Business Officer, predicted in an Adweek interview that his three favorite “revolutions”—mobile, video, and programmatic—will be so common by 2020 that “we will actually look back and laugh that we called them revolutions.”
- Mobile video requires different metrics when measuring success. “Traditional” video tells a linear story that has a beginning, middle, and end. But for mobile video, the recorded impact of partial views should really change how marketers think about digital video creation. While clever reveals at the end of an ad may work well for TV or some forms of online video, with mobile video you need to front-load your content in order to drive brand recall and introduce your value proposition right from the beginning. Completion rates—the number of viewers who watch a video from beginning to end—are immaterial for mobile video. New research from Facebook and Nielson found that mobile users who watched only three seconds of a 30 second video ad were responsible for 47% of the cumulative increase in brand recall, 32% of the increase in brand lift, and 44% of the increase in purchase intent. After only 10 seconds, 74% of increased ad recall was measured. It’s clear that a consumer doesn’t have to see an entire video to accomplish branding goals, recall, lift, and purchase intent.
- Creative considerations are different with mobile video. A recent Facebook study found that mobile users across all demographics tend to scroll much faster than desktop users. An eye-tracking study by Twitter found the same results. As a user rapidly scrolls through your video content, the creative mandate is that the content has to be graphically simple and bold, with minimal text in clear, crisp fonts. Animations that use intuitive swiping or side-scroll movements can help draw a user into the story. Audio should be used sparingly in mobile video. The great director John Ford believed that an audience should be able to understand a movie with the sound off—this rule holds true for mobile video. Another rule of thumb is that today’s users value authenticity over slickly produced product promotion videos, trusting information that originates from real people over content coming from faceless corporations. The human face has more impact on a small screen; the more directly the on-camera talent can address the audience, the better the chance of making a lasting emotional connection. And of course YouTube has popularized user-generated videos that feature a heavy dose of humor when appropriate.
- The mindset that video viewing on mobile devices is popular only with digital natives (Millennials age 21-34) is becoming a thing of the past. Among Millennials, 59% watch mobile video out-of-home. But it may come as a surprise that Baby Boomers (50-64) are almost identical in their viewing habits, with 58% watching mobile video out-of-home. Perhaps most surprising, Nielsen reports that a robust 42% of 65+ respondents report watching video on mobile devices when not at home. Mobile video can be an important communication channel across the full spectrum of patients and disease states.
- Programmatic technology is a highly effective component of video content strategies. By the end of 2017, 80% of all digital display advertising will be programmatic across all other categories. For pharma, this technology allows the development of sophisticated patient profiles and modeled behavior, and can do so in a HIPAA-compliant manner. Profiles can include gender, age, education, income, interests, online behavior, and location. Accessing multiple layers of data through technology enhanced by artificial intelligence, brands can deliver highly targeted video content without reducing their reach. As noted above, programmatic is gradually gaining acceptance by pharma as a “safe” technology, and its adoption is expected to increase significantly in 2017. Page-level contextual data can prevent unwanted or inappropriate viewer intrusion by setting parameters regarding when and where a video is served up to the user. JUICE Pharma has joined the newly-formed Programmatic Health Council, a coalition of forward-thinking agencies and vendors dedicated to accelerating pharma’s adoption of programmatic advertising. The PHC is especially dedicated to establishing guidelines and best practices regarding legal compliance and privacy issues.
The widespread adoption of mobile video by pharma will depend on several factors, including the acceptance of the automation that makes it so effective, and the ability to develop generally accepted ROI metrics. Both are manageable in a relatively short period of time. Ultimately, it’s not a matter of if pharma will get on board in a big way, it’s when that will happen.