5 Mobile Video Best Practices For Brands That Want To Be Recognized

Jonathon Ben Haim September 25, 2017
5 Mobile Video Best Practices For Brands That Want To Be Recognized

Today the majority of digital media consumption takes place through mobile devices. In fact, according to this eMarketer report, the time consumers are spending on mobile is gradually increasing while their time spent on all other media is decreasing. Therefore, it’s no longer enough for brands to be optimizing for mobile as an enhancement, and they should instead be thinking mobile-first with every initiative. In other words, brands should be building their strategies around every customer touchpoint with the mobile experience in mind, and since brands are using more and more video at these touch points, too, should be optimized for mobile.

Here are SundaySky’s top five mobile video best practices for the next time you’re planning a video engagement.

1. Capture their attention early.

Today, passive scrolling dominates the mobile experience. Whether it’s a social media app, a mobile website, or a brand’s own app, the restrictive nature of the smaller vertical screen makes it so that content falls in a single file line from top to bottom. This means that, much like a first impression, the initial interaction a consumer has with a mobile video is vital to whether or not they will actually pay attention to it. A surefire way to ensure that first impression is one that at least causes a pause in consumers is to design your thumbnail in a purposeful way. By choosing a frame that portrays something mid-action, you can take advantage of the natural curiosity in people to want to know what happens next.

Of course, you could also go the direction of attempting to connect with them emotionally by making the still a welcoming or familiar image. Other thumbnail best practices include using distinct or highly contrasting colors, overlaying text to provide quick context to the image, and creating unique but consistent branding for all of your thumbnails. These simple design choices can make a world of difference when all you have is a single still image to captivate and inspire consumers to want to see more.

2. Use engaging visuals to hold onto their attention.

Once you have enough of their attention for them to actually view your mobile video, your next goal is to hold onto that attention long enough for them to view until the end. The easiest way to do this is to use highly dynamic and stimulating footage that keeps the eyes and mind busy at all times. This means the more movement you can include in your shots and the faster pace the mobile video can maintain the more likely consumers are to view it all the way through to the end. Though, implementing this strategy should never come at the cost of displaying the content of the video in a valuable and effective manner.

3. Design the video for sound-off viewing.

Another common habit of consumers when browsing on a mobile device is to be doing so with the volume of the device turned off. If you’re creating your videos according to traditional viewing habits then you may be leaving information in the audio that gets left out of the experience for the large majority of consumers on mobile devices. The easiest way to tackle this issue is to design your mobile videos to relay all of the important information via on-screen text. Creating text overlays that are integrated into the visual experience of the video ensures that consumers receive the information that you want them to whether they have their volume turned on or off, and also gives their eyes (and brain) more information to process on-screen which directly correlates with the previous tip.

Mobile video designed for sound-off playing.
The on-screen text tells enough of a story to make sense without sound on.

4. Give them clear guidance.

In today’s market, the amount of content really does overwhelm consumers. Even if you do what the first three tips suggest it can be insanely difficult to hold someone’s attention for very long, and that’s why the quality of the content within the mobile video is so important. By including simple, upfront content such as compelling call-to-actions or enticing offers you can hold the consumer’s hand through the steps of engaging with the video and turning that engagement into real action directly after. Making the information blatant and obvious makes it easier for the consumer to not miss anything, and it allows them to retain the information after viewing it in the more passive state that they tend to be in while browsing on their mobile device.

5. Plan for vertical viewing.

Last but not least, consumers who are interacting with mobile videos tend to watch said videos holding their phones vertically by design. This means in order to optimize the video experience for mobile viewers you should design shots and place graphics with a square format in mind. By doing so, you ensure that, upon first encounter, the viewer doesn’t see a distorted or cropped video. On top of looking better, it is also proven that people are 67% percent more likely to watch the full length of square videos than they are to watch horizontal ones.

Mobile video designed for vertical viewing.
Optimize videos for mobile viewing by creating them in a square format.


In an ever more mobile world, brands need to stay ahead of the game in terms of how they’re thinking about and creating their video engagements. Though, the world isn’t quite mobile enough yet to only be thinking about videos in this context we do believe that thinking mobile-first is the smart thing to do. Leading your video creation strategy with mobile in mind optimizes your content for the medium that is quickly becoming the number one place where consumers interact with brands, and following up that strategy with traditional video formats allots you an advantage you otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s like walking first and crawling after.