Television was always the default medium for brand storytelling. From the ‘Mad Men’ era where 60 sec TV ad spots were used to build awareness and consideration of products, a viewer got attuned to watch commercials between programming. The golden age of TV advertising flourished when creative masters embraced the possibilities of a new medium where, for the first time ever, every household had a screen. TV thus became the de-facto platform to create, build and grow brands in India. However, when digital exploded through search, social and games, the hard core advertising purists scoffed it as interruptive/intrusive. And fair to them; there is limited information a brand could communicate in a 300X50 banner on a web page.
With smartphones now breaching the 400 million mark in India, it has created an opportunity where not just every household but every person will have a screen for themselves. With the recent telecom and OEM wars, this number seems to be intensifying, promising exponential growth in India. This has created a new and golden opportunity for creative mavens. They can now tell brand narratives on their comfortable format a.k.a “video” on mobile at scale. However, marketers are misunderstanding the opportunity. They are pushing the same 30 sec TVC to run on mobile platforms without giving due merit to the medium. Just the way TV is not visual radio, radio is not an audible newspaper, similarly, the smartphone is not a small screen TV.
There are multiple things that make it different. Unlike TV, where content and thus ad delivery is now standardized through digital set-top boxes, ad delivery on mobile is inherently dependent on multiple variables including the smartphone features (RAM, ROM, processor, memory), connection bandwidth and even the ad-network technology. Thus the same 30 sec video ad of 5MB size would run differently, even if 1 parameter from the above list is different.
User behaviour is also another parameter which varies considerably in mobile. While TV has audiences consuming content as a dedicated timely activity within their schedule, mobile offers both a ‘lean-back’ relaxed content consumption mode or a ‘lean-forward’ finishing a quick task mode. This would further determine whether to show him a long (>=30 sec) or a short (