Smartphone users take to long-form video

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Contrary to popular opinion, mobile screens are regularly being tapped for streaming longer-form video, according to Mobile Video Usage: A Global Perspective, a new comprehensive survey of consumers from 24 countries around the world who watch smartphone video, published by the US Interactive Advertising Bureau and 24 IABs around the world including New Zealand.

Thirty-six percent of total respondents said they watch videos that are five minutes or longer on their phones daily or more frequently.

Whether short or long or in-between, substantial numbers of video viewers report their video consumption on smartphones has increased year-on-year in all of the study’s participating nations, with the most prominent increases being seen in the US (50%), Canada (42%), New Zealand (42%), South Africa (42%), and the UK (40%).

This trend is also impacting traditional television viewing across the board, with consumers in China (37%) and Singapore (35%) reporting the highest incidence of watching less TV due to streaming more on mobile.

When mobile video viewers do watch traditional television, however, 22% are regularly doing so while watching video simultaneously on their phone, the report claims.

“Mobile Video is the fastest growing area of small screen usage” said Sarah Kavanagh, chair of the IABNZ Mobile Advertising Council. “People are watching short and long form video content on their phones more than ever,” she says.

“Significantly viewers are dual screening while watching TV and while this represents challenges for marketers it also presents exciting opportunities for brands to engage their audiences, supporting the case for further investment in mobile. Consumers are using mobile as their first screen more than ever and advertisers are in a game of catch up with these consumers”

Across the 24 countries in the survey, there are several common ways that mobile video viewers discover digital video to view on their phones, including:

  • YouTube (62%)
  • Social media platforms (33%)
  • Search results (20%)
  • Advertising (14%)

Apps are indisputably the main method for viewing mobile video in each of the markets studied. Nearly half of respondents overall (48%) said that they “only” or “mostly” leverage mobile apps to stream video on their phones, with the UK (63%), Brazil (60%), and Turkey (58%) leading the trend.  By contrast, across the survey sample only 18% said they “only” or “mostly” use mobile websites to view video.

More than a quarter (28%) of viewers across the participating countries said that they often see ads on mobile video that they’ve already seen on TV. Numbers climb higher in France (38%), Turkey (36%), Finland (35%) and the US (35%). But Kavanagh  says marketers might be missing out with this approach, since 80%+  or more of consumers in most markets expressed interest in any kind of tailored ad versus ‘I prefer no tailoring of ads at all’. The findings point to the importance of ads being relevant to the content of the video being watched, but also show viewing history being a significant factor, especially in the US and Canada.

“I believe the survey shows that audiences around the world are open to mobile video advertisements that relate and are relevant to their context and viewing patterns,” said Kavanagh. “35% of Australians and New Zealanders surveyed would like ads to be tailored to the content they are watching. This gives marketers the opportunity to reach audiences that are most likely to be interested in their products or services.”

In addition to advertising, the study shows that there is potential for mobile video monetisation through subscription and pay-on-demand models. In several markets viewers already demonstrate a willingness to pay for video content that is streamed to phones:

China (33%)

  • UK (25%)
  • Canada (23%)
  • US (23%)
  • Australia (21%)

“Still, there are barriers to overcome for further success in pay-for models – and much need to grow mobile video advertising revenue,” Kavanagh said. Seventy-eight percent of respondents overall stated that they would rather have free mobile video supported by ads.

Other interesting findings related to the local market are:

  • Sponsored ads have become more visible in Australia and New Zealand
  • 72% of New Zealanders want free video content with ads in it
  • Australia and New Zealand have the strongest preference globally for comedy content clips.
  • Australia and New Zealand video viewing on smartphone peaks between 8pm and 11pm.
  • Australian and New Zealanders share video less than the global average.
  • Good picture quality and free video content is most important to Australians and New Zealanders.


A 20-question survey was designed and fielded from April 14-May 11 2015 in 24 countries (Argentina Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, and the US) by On Device Research. Two hundred consumers, who were 16+, owned a smartphone and watched either short or long mobile videos, were polled in each of the markets. All respondents were asked the same questions – frequency of watching, genres of mobile video watched, where they watch mobile videos, when they watch them, how they watch mobile video, do they share mobile video and whether they see any ads while watching mobile video.

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