Luc Benyon, Head of Marketing, video intelligence
Mobile is changing user video experiences before our very eyes. For consumers, mobility means video viewing whenever and wherever. For advertisers, it heralds unprecedented data-driven possibilities.

At Mobile World Congress 2017, brands and advertisers were naturally well-versed in the potential of delivering targeted video. But the techniques were still up for debate. Over the course of the discussions I saw, three interconnected trends emerged – personalization, conversation and context.


mobile world congress



With retargeting now common practice, users are used to seeing messages based on their shopping behaviors.

An informal audience poll at ‘The Power of Personalization” panel revealed 80% were happy to receive ads on their mobile devices based on preference, location and activity history.

Almost flipping targeting on its head, personalization refers to ad content that incorporates personal data into the creative. So far it has proven itself to be achievable and effective in display advertising, but when it comes to video, bespoke creative is much harder to iterate and automate. Nevertheless, if it increases engagement, advertisers will continue to search for ways to make it work.

It sounds great in practice, but on the panel session, Twitter’s Helen Lawrence warned that it can be a red herring, “It comes back to quality. If you only have a limited budget, targeting is more interesting than personalization.” For Lawrence a personalized ad that has a users’ name or hometown incorporated is gimmicky, whereas clever targeting can provide more genuine value.

It’s still an exciting area of development and we’re sure to see more brands play with personalized content in video. Let’s just hope it’s not at the expense of quality.



Naturally, advertisers are keen to see more payoff from their video content. It’s long been the case that creating a watercooler moment is the goal of a truly great brand ad – think Cadbury’s Gorilla, Volvo’s The Epic Split and Budweiser’s Born The Hard Way. But in a noisy content landscape, it’s getting harder to monopolize chat on- and offline.


Speakers were keen to emphasize that organic, or even paid, social on its own would never result in the desired reach. This is where influencer marketing comes in.

At his MMIX Summit session, Jeff Shaw of concert brand Live Nation talked about their investment in ‘fanfluencers’. He revealed that in some cases securing coverage from an influencer was more costly than the artist themselves.

As Nick Snowdon of Kantar TNS explained, “If you’re looking to drive conversation, and engage influencers, think about how you can best use the platforms that are best to do that.“ Those platforms are invariably accessed via mobile. Shaw conceptualized mobile as the device that sits on the cusp of both physical and digital experience. It is the enabler that allows us to ingest physical experiences, choose media and filter content to the right people.

Demonstrating this on the eve of MWC, Samsung debuts their latest brand ad ‘The Rest Of Us’. Featuring influencer supreme Casey Neistat, the ad is a joyous celebration of the current generation of video creators. Clearly if anyone understands the value of influencer marketing, it’s Samsung.

Back at the personalization session, the emphasis was placed by Snowdon on ensuring the right people are talking about your campaign, “It’s not just the content itself that makes something relevant. It’s also the conversation around it” he argued.


With this point, Snowdon had hit upon a third aspect of targeting – context. Advertisers are now able to target their mobile ads by location, time of day and weather. This vastly improves the ability to take context into account, and use creative that best responds to it.

Snowdon argued brands should be “thinking about the role of conversation alongside video…. about the mindset that you’re involving, and the context in which that’s happening.”

Contextual advertising refers to both the device’s internal and external context. Internally, for example, if a video will be delivered in an app with a vertical user interface, it makes sense that the ad should be vertical. Externally, consider where a user is likely to be at a certain time of day, and the behavior they might be exhibiting, such as traveling, shopping or relaxing.


Looking to the future

With forthcoming reductions in mobile roaming charges and new players such as Vice moving into the mobile space, we’re set for a period of continued growth for mobile video. Personalization looks set to be a creative trend we can see more of, whilst contextual considerations will help us deliver at appropriate times and places. Meanwhile, influencers will help to amplify the content and create conversations around it.

Mobile video has cemented its place as the most effective way to reach consumers, and with these advances, it’s set to become an even more powerful aspect of advertising.