The Most Powerful Stat You Need To Know About Online Video

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Online video was supposed to be this massive competitor to TV, wasn’t it?

It turns out that online video is actually competing with people who want to watch videos on the go. According to the SFGate article published yesterday, YouTube’s Mobile Views Have Quadrupled In 18 Months. From the article: "YouTube executive Robert Kyncl said at a conference that views from mobile devices now account for a quarter of views on the Google-owned video site. ‘We’re experiencing a massive consumer shift,’ Kyncl said at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit. ‘Mobile has increased from 6% to 25% in last 18 months across the whole of YouTube.’ That figure is up dramatically from the latest official statistics YouTube provides. The company has previously announced that mobile traffic tripled in 2011 and stood at 20 percent of total views."

Small and on-the-go for the win!

It seems to me that video content is headed for a moment of collision. On one hand, we have exponential growth when it comes to consumers watching videos on their mobile devices. On the other hand, we have a world where more and more connected TVs are rolling on to the market, and demand for everything from Netflix to Apple TV continues to experience healthy growth as well. So, our ability to deliver broadcast quality, high-definition video content to bigger and bigger screens comes at the very same time as more and more people are consuming large amounts of video content on their mobile devices with small screens.

These are not the same experiences.

Can we – as marketers – agree that watching video on a smartphone is not the same user experience as watching video on a fifty-inch flat screen at home? The challenge is that the content may be the same. Many would argue that they simply won’t pause The Avengers movie in their basement and continue the experience on their iPhone, while they head to work on the subway, but it’s becoming apparent that we (the consumers) often say one thing and do another. Are we simply saving up all of those cute puppies swimming in the backyard for our mobile viewing and savoring season one of Homeland for when we can cozy up on the couch in our den? Probably not. Statistics and data be damned, but based on this YouTube viewership data point, I’m going to say that people are evolving with the technology, and the quality of a video experience is no longer predicated by the size of the screen and immobility of a human body. It’s changing, and marketers are going to have to power along and change with it.

The new face of video.

It’s hard to define what this new face of video will be like, but – as marketers – we have to imagine what the advertising and the marketing messages will be like when video uncouples from a fixed location with a screen that lies in the distance, when compared to how we consume video on a 7-inch screen that is constantly popping up notifications in an environment that is already crowded by surrounding distractions and messaging. Just last night, my cable company let me down. They do not carry the CW Network, so I was unable to watch the debut of Arrow (a new TV show based on the comic book character, Green Arrow). I could not access the CW Network’s online video of the episode (it’s blocked to Canadian IPs), so I bought the episode off of iTunes before realizing that CTV in Canada was streaming it for free online, as the show is running on CTV 2 (also not available through my TV cable subscription). So, the content is here. It’s downloaded on to my iPad and iPhone. It’s available online for free. Will I deal with a pre-roll and/or post-roll on the site? Will I watch it on my iPhone? Will I wait for my next flight (this coming Sunday) and watch it on the iPad? Will I stream it through Apple TV?

Stop and think about that?

This little piece of video content (a TV show) has been completely decoupled from the experience that helps it generate money (an ad shown as an interruption on a specific date and time). My experience in how I watch it (on an iPhone, iPad, laptop screen or TV) are wholly different engagement experiences. So, as we enter a world where marketers are waxing poetic about the power of content marketing and – in specific – the power of online video, we best be sure we are gathering a keen understanding of how to create dynamic video content that adapts to this very new landscape and environment.

Something tells me it won’t be as easy as we think.


  1. I regularly jump from apple tv to iPad to iphone for Netflix! If I’m alone, I’m happy to watch video on any device as long as its convenient. I’ll also flick something from my phone or iPad to the tv if I want to share it with the rest of the family. I can’t imagine there aren’t many others who do the same. It will be interesting to see how this all evolves.

  2. We watch more and more through time shift or onDemand – although services here in Germany are way behind. commercials are normally fast forwarded.
    So I can really much agree.
    On the other hand. I read this week, that longer videos are more and more watched online. That doesn’t fit, quite to the increased mobile watching.

  3. Great and timely article (as usual Mitch!) that I’ll be sharing with several clients who need to move more aggressively into video but need to think about the complete customer experience in the process. Quick question – what did you think of Arrow? You’re efforts to track it down hint that you’re a fan and I’m hoping you enjoyed the first episode. I personally thought it was great and am eager to see where they take the series…

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