Video consumption on mobile is set to explode--which is exciting yet challenging news for marketers trying to reach the lucrative digital native consumer (aka the large, growing audience of consumers that has grown-up online, continuously connected to their mobile devices and Jon Stewart). According to a study by Cisco:

  • The number of mobile-connected devices exceeded the world's population in 2014 and by 2019 there will be nearly 1.5 mobile devices per capita
  • By 2019, more than half of all devices connected to the mobile network will be "smart" devices.
  • Mobile video viewing was responsible for 55% of total mobile data traffic in 2014 and 72% of the world's mobile data traffic will be video by 2019.

B2C Brand marketers have taken notice (65% don't need convincing that video is an effective way to engage targeted consumers on mobile) and AdAge now publishes a weekly Viral Video Chart ranking their efforts.

These developments are not surprising to Matt Ruby. Ruby is a standup comedian, former employee #1 at technology company 37signals and founder of Vooza, a video comic strip about the tech world (think Dilbert meets Spinal Tap). Ruby launched Vooza in the summer of 2012 recognizing there was tremendous potential in the video space to make funny videos that appealed to a specific audience AND also managed to make money. Vooza has hit a nerve with audiences from the start. Within a few weeks of launching videos such as Radimparency, Vooza received hundreds of thousands of visitors, including links from media and startup industry bigwigs like Dennis Crowley, David Karp, Tim Ferriss and Steve Case. And brands have taken notice too. As the site took off, Ruby began selling branded content videos. MailChimp was one of the first brands to work with Vooza. And it has just grown from there: Vooza is now a full-fledged production company that makes custom videos for companies too.

For brands looking to engage with younger consumers, Ruby offers this advice: ditch the standard “ad buy” as this audience ignores display advertising and get the brand message into the content. You want to be the content they want to see, not an obstacle to the content they want to view. As Ruby told me:

When we make branded content, the ad isn’t an obstacle that’s blocking you from the thing you want to see--it’s part of what you want to see. It’s a different relationship with the viewer. They like that you’re supporting the content they dig and associate your product with the good vibes of the video. The funny thing is this model isn’t new. It’s actually the way advertising started out on TV and radio.

Case in point: Pizza Hut's "Danger of Self Sticks PSA" which has been viewed nearly 4 million times on YouTube as well as Vooza's "Startup Class" video (created to announce Turkish Airlines' new direct flight from San Francisco to Istanbul, the video has been viewed over 1.3 million times).

As for tips or tactical advice for content creators looking to connect with a targeted consumer audience on mobile, Ruby offers this guidance:

  1. Start with the audience. Figure out who you’re trying to reach with your content and then reverse engineer from there. For example, we like going after Apple because Apple fans are so insane about their products.
  1. Expect to roll out a lot of content consistently over time. It takes a while to build up an audience.
  1. Get an email list going--it’s still the best way to reach fans.
  1. Answer this question: “Why would people want to share this?” Because if people don’t share it organically, it probably won’t go far. For example, designers love sharing this CEO video with each other because they can all relate to the know-it-all CEO who thinks he/she knows best how to design a logo.
  1. The more heavy-handed you are with the sales pitch, the less likely people are to share it. Let the funny lead the way whenever possible.
  1. Don't be so fearful to push people's buttons. Have some edge. Make fun of people. HBO is great because there are no advertisers who say, “Don’t say that.”
  1. Find your intersection. What's the thing that you can make that no one else can? That's your island. For Vooza, it's funny plus tech.
  1. Make it findable. Think about how people search for things online and get into that stream with the right headlines, keywords, etc.