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Science Behind Building Mobile Video


2016 was a landmark year for publishers & content creators building mobile video. Ignoring the signs from last year is difficult. The top 10 publishers on Facebook averaged over 10 billion video views every month in 2016. That’s greater than the reach of an average TV channel.

In India, the year ended with a Facebook live address by the prime minister. The live address reached over 2.7 million views & 38,266 shares on the last count.  If video content is still not part of your plan, then you are seriously missing out on reaching out to a larger untapped audience base.

Mobile has resulted in an influx of traffic to video content. Although Youtube still accounts for 40-70 percent of total video traffic in most mobile networks. Facebook now has over 500 million people watching videos every day on its platform.

By 2022, Video will account for 75% of mobile data traffic.

Irrespective of the changing consumption patterns most brands continue to publish their television commercials on social platforms. Few focus on creating sponsored content or tie-up with creators to build content.

Mobile Video is changing the Traditional TVC Narrative Arc

You can’t just republish the television commercial on social media anymore. Television commercials are built for 16:9 resolution while social media uses a portrait mode. Traditional TVC Narrative Arc starts with the premise, build-up, and a conclusion that usually reveals the product. The format worked for brands, and the engagement remained consistent during the attention span.

Then came mobile and flipped the whole arc. Mobile Video Narrative Arc usually follows a decline after the first five seconds as users are always scrolling for new content. If your main message is towards the end of the video people are not going to see it.

Mobile Retention Arc

Mobile Video Narrative Arc means that what works for you on television might not necessarily work for you on social media. The content shop at Facebook has tried to reimagine the mobile video narrative arc with a few experiments of its own.

Feed Proofing

Capture attention quickly

People are scrolling through their feeds looking for content from their friends and other pages they follow. If you don’t hold their attention for the first 3 seconds, they will scroll past it.

Design for sound off

Facebook has an auto-playing video with the sound off. You need to be able to communicate your message with the sound off. Subtitles are not good enough because they are small and difficult to read.

Frame your visual story

If you are looking at repurposing a TVC think of cropping it in a square. You have to pull the most interesting frames out. We don’t just need 30 seconds worth of content we need compelling content that runs.

Play more

Be playful with the content. For example, a TVC can be repurposed to generate brand awareness and recall using a video recut, video key visual GIF, or even a still image that can be used in a post.

Mobile-First Video Narrative

Heartbeat Frequency

Heartbeat frequency works to build consistent engagement by keeping the users hooked to the content. This narrative style involves engaging the audience every 3-4 seconds to make sure users are paying close attention and don’t have to wait until the end for the payoff.

Heartbeat Frequency Narrative Arc

McDonald’s tried the Heartbeat frequency for one of its creatives in Brazil. What’s fascinating about the video is that it keeps the users hooked on it. Also, the brand and the message are visible fifty percent of the time. The longer the user stays, the more rewards he gets.

The video garnered over 8.6 million views on Facebook alone.

McDonald’s Brasil

Affligem Beer

Affligem a brand from Heineken also uses the heartbeat narrative and works more like a cinema gram. The video focuses on visual storytelling and pulses every 5 seconds.

Heartbeat frequency basis rewards perpetual attention. The more you watch it, the more rewarding it gets.

Zigs & Zags

Zigs & Zags use visual hooks followed by the product.

Zigs & Zags

Pepsi – #Sayitwithpepsi

The video has a gag, and then it reveals the product. The narrative format makes sure that the engagement remains consistent even with short attention spans.

Honest Company

Honest Company uses Zigs & Zags effectively. We have a point-of-view shot that comes from the back followed by the product.

Start with the End

For direct response advertisers, you can start with the end. The punchline or central message is directly conveyed at the beginning.

Tide has used the start-with-the-end form of narrative style. Gets it out the video from Tide has already garnered over 4.5 million views.

If you want to know more about the work that creative shop from Facebook is doing, listen to this presentation from Ian Crocombe, Facebook at IAB Content Conference which inspired us to write this article

If you have experience in building videos for social, do leave a comment. We hope to learn from your experience and hope you found the article useful.

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