Watching a series or film during a long train ride. Sharing a funny video with your colleagues over lunch. We are watching more and more video content every day. And we increasingly do this on portable screens. We literally carry videos in our back pocket, watching on our tablet and smartphones. Research shows that video forms 69% of mobile data traffic, and that will grow to 79% by 2027.

Videos on mobile devices ask for a different approach when it comes to production and distribution. Luckily, we still have some time to optimize mobile video. Here are five tips to help you get started with your mobile video strategy.

1. Vertical video or landscape mode?

The traditional television screens are pretty straightforward: one screen size fits all. For mobile devices this is a different story, as viewers can watch video content in one of two ways:  as a vertical video or in landscape mode.

For a long time vertical video was off-limits, but it is getting more mainstream, with people holding their phones vertically 94% of the time. Think of the times you scroll through your timeline or feed. And apps such as Snapchat, Instagram Stories and TikTok run entirely on vertical videos. More and more organizations add these videos to their marketing mix.

For example, this vertical video about Budget Alles-in-1. The video is for Budget Energie, a company that offers all-in-one internet, television and phone services for your home or office. The video helps people install these services on their own. Budget Energie chose a vertical video, since people will most likely watch it on their smartphone with use of their network provider.

Besides diversity in apps and moments of watching content, it also depends on the type of content you watch. Shorter videos and talking heads are very suitable to watch vertically. However, series or longer features are usually filmed in landscape mode, making them more suitable to watch on horizontal screens.

2. To advertize or not to advertize?

The amount of viewers on mobile devices is steadily growing. Nearly every public place has a wireless connection, such as trains and cafes. However, these connections are not always reliable or fast, so some viewers still rely on their own data connection.

Video requires a lot of data. On top of that, most videos include advertisements. A study by Enders Analysis proves that advertisements take a big chunk of your data, between 18 and 79 percent. This percentage will only grow with more visual elements.

To avoid advertisements taking up so much data, YouTube stopped ‘unskippable ads’ by 2018, as they are shortened and can be skipped. This to make sure people still watch videos on mobile devices, even when they use their mobile data.

3. Interactive mobile video content

More and more videos contain interactive elements. Think of clickable titles, call to actions and feedback forms. This interactivity increases the level of engagement. Yet, these videos do not yet seem optimized for mobile. Some interactive videos are relatively ‘heavy’, causing longer loading times. Or the buttons are unreadable on small screens.

However, interactive video can be a mobile success. YouTube said goodbye to  Annotations on mobile devices in May 2017 and replaced them with Cards and End Screens, which work on both desktop and mobile devices. Yet, this decision wasn’t met with enthusiasm by users of the platform who still saw the value of interactivity in mobile video content such as this one:

4. Adopting the right technique

Believe it or not, but there are still some interactive videos that run on flash.  All web browsers have given up on Adobe Flash Player, as it gave glitches in video content. This also has consequences for browsers and content that run on mobile devices.

Android and iOS do not support Flash. Flash Player is not suitable for touchscreens, as it was created for mouse clicks. Also, Flash shortens the durability of your battery and causes glitches in video.

Great alternatives that work well with touch screens and mobile devices, are Custom CSS and HTML5.

5. Mobile video content on mute

Scrolling through your timeline on Facebook, you might have noticed an increase in video content. This is automatically played without sound – also known as mute. It’s still possible to play video with sound, but the majority of people doesn’t bother to turn the sound on. So, let your video grab the attention and let it speak to the imagination.

Does your video really need sound? You can add subtitles to your videos. Facebook states that videos with subtitles are viewed 12% longer. So they have decided to make the subtitling of videos easier. Once you turn on the sound, the subtitles automatically disappear.

What’s next for mobile video content?

As you might have noticed, it takes quite some effort to optimize your video for mobile devices. Yet, this effort is only temporary and will pay off soon. And the sooner you start, the better.

This blog was also published in Dutch on Marketing Online