New survey data from AOL shows live mobile video is helping drive the platform passed the PC as the preferred platform. It also shows advertisers are taking notice, and preparing to shift ad dollars in response.
Smartphone rivals PC for video viewing
For the seven regions surveyed by AOL, the PC still is the most popular platform for video viewing, but only just! 57% said they watch videos on mobile phones daily versus 58% on their laptops and desktops. In the U.S, more consumers use both platforms to watch videos: 67% use the smartphone, 70% use their PC. These numbers may sound high, particularly given the fact that Nielsen says that people watched video on their smartphone on average 2.8 days per week in Q2 2016. That said, Nielsen also says that smartphone users check social media almost every day. Since there is at least some video in everyone’s Facebook feed it could well be that most see video virtually every day as they scroll through recent postings.
The fact that smartphones are neck-and-neck with PCs for video viewing is not surprising when you consider the role of the smartphone in our lives. AOL says that 77% of survey participants said they can’t live without their smartphone, or always have it within arm’s reach. U.S. consumers are even more addicted to mobile, with 89% saying they can’t live without the device.
Nielsen confirms the U.S. addiction to smartphones. The company says that in Q3 2016 83% of U.S. adults used an app or web on a smartphone, and 68% watched at least some video on the device.
Live key driver of video use on smartphones
AOL says 74% of U.S. consumers have watched at least some live video on their smartphones. This is considerably higher than the average (65%) of the seven global markets included in the company’s survey. It is also higher than the number of people that watched any video on their smartphones in Q3 2016, which was 68% according to Nielsen.
However, in Southeast Asia consumers watch even more live video (76%) on their phones. This is perhaps a little less surprising, however, given the dominance of mobile video platforms over PCs and connected televisions in the region.
Though the AOL numbers do seem a little high for live mobile consumptions, streaming data released last year by nScreenMedia from Conviva confirms the importance of live mobile video. In the free white paper The Secret Life of Streamers, the data shows a big increase in live streaming outside of the home. In home, just 19% of video starts were for live streams. Outside the home, that increased to 25%. This suggests consumers are using their smartphones when on the road to ensure they do not miss unmissable sports and events.
Virtual reality popular, but still a novelty
A surprising number of people have experienced virtual reality videos on their smartphones. AOL says 28% of U.S. consumers have experienced VR on their phone. Even more (31%) expect to watch more VR videos in the next 12 months. It looks like the U.S. is the most optimistic about the future of VR. 21% of Southeast Asians expect to be watching more VR in the next year, and just 9% of UK and Canadian consumers feel the same way.
Smartphones appear to be the principal way people experience VR, and Google Cardboard dominates. Hypergrid Research says 98% of the 89 million VR headsets sold in 2016 were for mobile phones. Further, it says Google Cardboard sold 84 million units, versus 2.3 million Samsung Gear VR. This emphasizes that VR is still very much a novelty for consumers. The videos available to watch are very short, and there is still not a great deal of content to watch. The handle-held Cardboard is an adequate solution under these circumstances.
Advertisers taking notice
In response to the surge in smartphone video usage, advertisers are beginning to move television ad dollars. AOL found that 47% of advertisers expect to increase spending on mobile by 25% or more in 2017. Publishers, as you would expect, have even higher expectations. 57% expect mobile ad spending to increase 25% or more in 2017.
Even more ad spending could shift in the U.S. advertising market. AOL says 70% of advertisers expect to increase mobile video spend 25% or more. Similar 79% of publishers expect clients to spend 25% or more.
U.S. advertisers could be even more enthusiastic about the opportunity for mobile advertising. 35% say quality of consumer experience remains a top challenge for mobile video. As result, 43% said they spend less on mobile video ads than they otherwise would. 2 in 5 say they are making “lighter” video ads that can load faster.
Why it matters
As many people are watching mobile video daily as are watching on the PC.
Live is a diving force in mobile video viewing.
The smartphone is also the main way people experience VR, though the technology is still a novelty.
Advertisers are beginning to switch TV dollars to mobile, though quality challenges remain.