As marketers move toward more interactive campaigns, one rapidly growing market they should be giving serious attention to is mobile video.
Why? Because mobile video is a burgeoning source of entertainment, one that empowers you to engage potential customers wherever they are. Reports estimate mobile video will be worth $11 billion by 2011. By 2014, more than 500 million users will subscribe to mobile video services.
The technological barriers that once made mobile videos impossible have been overcome. Previously, the mobile video experience was marred by buffering delays and uneven playback.
Today, content creators can alleviate these concerns by properly encoding video. When done correctly, this optimizes performance across all ranges of mobile devices. Moreover, new content delivery technology makes it easy for marketers to leverage existing Web content and deliver it to mobile devices.
And crucially, mobile videos haven't been around long enough to be tainted. This gives marketers a fresh slate to work with. Marketers have a window of opportunity to get video content to their customers' mobile handsets, before the market becomes overcrowded.
Unlike intrusive SMS and MMS messages that spam consumers with unsolicited offers, mobile video is something users perceive as entertainment and interesting. Simply put, they're more receptive to hearing your message when it's delivered through this medium.
Information-hungry consumers want to view product/service demos, explore features, and gain a more in-depth understanding not only of products and services of interest, but of the people behind the brand. From basic "how to" instructions to in-depth knowledge sharing, video provides a platform to educate consumers about you and your brand.
Hotels, for instance, can share videos about their city with visitors to their area, while a furniture store can produce videos of interior design tips and step-by-step instructions for furniture assembly. Savvy businesses are now integrating mobile video into brand campaigns and communications, inviting users to opt in to begin receiving mobile videos.
The iPhone has had a great deal to do with this revolution. Apple's smartphone offering has made consumers open to—and hungry for—mobile video, creating the excitement needed to execute mobile campaigns.
The numbers don't lie: With more than 50 million Apple iPhones and iPod touch devices sold, and 65 percent of all mobile browser use taking place on the device, businesses would be foolhardy to ignore such a huge audience. That's why iPhone videos have become an extremely popular way to entertain, educate, and entice customers.
In addition, many companies are encouraging their employees to create video blogs (or vlogs) with their iPhones in order to connect with customers. Increasingly growing in popularity, such vlogs provide customers with insights into the people who make the business run, strengthening the connection between the customer and the brand.
One note of caution: To maintain quality, Apple has restrictions on video file sizes and how they're encoded, and will reject a video application outright if the videos don't meet their specifications. To avoid this scenario, look for content delivery technologies that can encode videos at a lower bit rate, yet still maintain high quality video and audio.
In conclusion, the mobile video market is wide open. These new capabilities give marketers novel new ways to entice and educate consumers. Sharing valuable content—with clear calls to action—attracts buyers to your brand.
Fun, informative mobile videos are a convenient, inexpensive way to increase sales and strengthen your brand. Marketers just need to be sure they are choosing the right delivery method for their budget, audience, and technology needs.
Martin Hayward is director of marketing for Tewksbury, MA-based CDN, Mirror Image Internet. Follow him on Twitter at MirrorImage_CDN.