Formerly a place to watch shorter video clips, the mobile market has exploded in the past few years. With mobile ad spending comprising 37% of all digital ad spending, and mobile viewers devoting almost 60% of their tablet viewing time to videos that are at least 10 minutes long, the mobile environment is increasingly important to broadcast journalists.
Better Technology Means Better Mobile Viewing
As phone screens get bigger and better (many new phones offer 1080p HD for video streaming), viewers are more willing to watch longer pieces, including news packages from local and national sources. This results in improved ad revenue for the source, and often increased social media exposure as audience members share the stories they just watched on their cell phones or tablets.
For this reason, it’s important to capitalize on the mobile market. The best way to do this is to ensure video packages are optimized for mobile viewing.
Is Your Organization’s Website Responsive to Mobile?
Most broadcasters’ websites now have a unique video landing page for mobile visitors. This removes some of the clutter on a regular desktop-optimized page, allowing viewers to easily browse videos. When viewers access a responsive site from mobile devices, the page contracts to fit their screen.
You can make sure your organization’s site is responsive by accessing it from a mobile device. Does it load slowly or with errors? Are any links or videos cut off? Do you have to scroll left or right to finish reading a line of text? Are some links so small you can barely read them, and have difficulty clicking on them even with a stylus? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you might want to talk with your IT person about improving the mobile site so viewers will want to return.
Encode Videos to Ensure They Play on Mobile Devices
Make sure your videos are encoded to play on mobile devices. Nothing frustrates an on-the-go viewer more than clicking a link and getting an error message instead of the news story they wanted to watch.
There are two types of encoding that work well for mobile devices. One is long-form video, which is ideal for videos that are more than four minutes long. Since most news packages are much briefer, short-form encoding is more appropriate. MP4 is the preferred file type for short-form encoding, but some journalists find the WMV format is easier to compress.
When choosing a player for your responsive mobile site, experiment to see how your video will look in different formats. Ideally, video size should be device-agnostic, meaning all your content should be visible whether viewed on a small device or a big-screen TV.
Choose Attractive Thumbnail Shots
The thumbnail that appears on a video link, also sometimes called a splash screen, should entice viewers to click the link and watch your video. This is important for any digital video, but especially so for mobile. Large, bright images attract the eye and are easy to see on a small screen. Bold images are just as attractive to desktop viewers, so there’s no need to have separate splash screens for your mobile videos. Avoid shots with lots of small details, which may show up as a blurry blob on a 4-inch screen.
To make your station’s splash screen unique and easily distinguished from other stations, you can add a logo or call sign. Try to find a place where it’s out of the way of the main action in your pictures (a corner or a thin strip at the top or bottom of the screen usually works). The station’s logo shouldn’t be huge, but it should be colorful and easy to see. If at all possible, try to place your logo in the same position on every splash screen.
Remember Call-to-Action Buttons
Check your mobile site periodically to make sure call-to-action buttons are easily visible and large enough to click with a finger or stylus. Call-to-action buttons can be used to encourage viewers to sign up for an email list, follow the station’s weather blog, or enter a sponsor’s contest.
The same is true of social media links—it’s very common to find that these are undersized on mobile pages. Encouraging viewers to follow your organization on social media helps maintain interest in the station, so make sure “follow us” links are easy to see and click, and that they redirect correctly from your mobile page. Setting them to open in a new tab of Chrome or other mobile browsers makes it easier for viewers to get back to your page after visiting your social media links.