What Should Video Creators Know Before Going Mobile?

/ Aug 29, 2014


“Mobile devices are quickly becoming the next screen for video,” says Frank Sinton, founder and CEO of Beachfront Media, a company that helps content creators distribute and monetize video across various devices (including on mobile with Beachfront Builder). As more and more people seek to consume content on the go, content creators need to develop strategies to optimize their videos for mobile.

Before getting into mobile video best practices, it’s important to recognize the aspects that make any video worth watching. As Charley Miller, the co-founder and head of product at TouchCast explains, “Same rules apply as in any video making: sound, lighting and framing matter, keep the camera steady, and a have a plan.” Once you have that down, then you can work towards making a video ripe for mobile viewing.

The main tenet for mobile video creation boils down to speed. More than in any other medium, mobile content requires story delivery in as little time possible.

According to Sinton, “The key is to create short, consistent, and relatable stories or messages.” However, maintaining high-quality content is just as key as doing it quickly and at a high production rate (Miller suggests that those creating for mobile can produce five videos for every one created for a more traditional venue). Telling a story with a solid plotline can and should happen in a matter of seconds on mobile devices—and if you scoff at this concept, remember that successful Vine creators do it in six.

However, Matthew Patrick, the director of content strategy over at Defy Media, disagrees. “There’s actually a lot of misinformation around ‘creating content for mobile,’ primarily, that shorter content works better,” he attests. “I have yet to see this supported in the data.”

Regardless of what you believe about the content itself, optimal distribution practices rely on easy access. With no annotations to help drive traffic on mobile devices, it needs to be very easy for fans to watch a lot of their favorite creators’ content there. As Miller notes, mobile video relies on ample mobile hot spots, while Sinton emphasizes the importance of building on, and then beyond, YouTube.

“Considering many YouTube creators now see over 50% of their YouTube views via mobile devices, converting a YouTube subscriber to an app download can enable creators to have direct access to their fans on the devices that they love most,” Sinton explains, further suggesting that creators launch apps on both iOS and Android at the same time. This way, they won’t cause any, say, Android-using fans to feel left out if their app appears only on iOS.

Ultimately, creators can’t sustain a regular content schedule if they don’t make any money from their endeavors. However, charging up front may make fans shy away from a mobile app, especially when they’re used to getting their favorite content for free on YouTube. Miller articulates the strategy of “keeping content free” while also offering additional features for a charge. “Use cliff hangers to get people hooked and then ask them to cross the paywall,” he says.

It’s potentially easier to convert fans into paying customers on mobile, which, as Sinton stated earlier, can enable a more direct connection between a creator and his or her most ardent supporters.

Of course, there’s also advertising. Targeted ads account for a lot of mobile monetization, and it’s easy to target a certain creator’s demographic within their app. In-app purchases (from relevant merch to premium content) also drives monetization on mobile video.

However, it all boils down to knowing your fans — what will they pay for, and what will they expect to get for free? “Figure out the right mixture of free content and paid content,” says Sinton, and creators should be on their way to monetizing optimized mobile video content.

This article is part of VideoInk’s special issue on mobile video and Vine, Video on the Go.” Come back all week as we highlight issues and stars of the mobile and social video space.

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