3 Limitations of Mobile Video Every Marketer Should Know

Create a consistent video experience across screens.

3 Limitations of Mobile Video Every Marketer Should Know

According to the industry experts, 2015 will be the year of mobile video growth. Whether they are talking about an increase in usage of services such as Netflix or Hulu, or in general, video experiences on mobile will be mastered this year.

Mobile video has changed over the year for the better, but it is not yet at a point where it is caught up with the technology and features demanded by the market. Here are 3 very import things you should know about mobile video before you embark on any video project.

1. Mobile on iOS is different than Android

HTML5 Video enables video to playback on pretty much any device. I have personally tested HTML5 video on everything from my iPad to XBox and it works flawlessly. The good news is most video hosting solutions on the market will automatically provide this compatibility, where in the past it was typically an upgrade or premium feature.

Whether you are hosting videos on YouTube or on a premium video platform, the mechanics behind video playback across mobile operating systems will differ. This same variety factor exists for desktop browsers, but mobile is handled a little different. For example, iOS by default forces video to playback through the native Apple iOS video player. Where Android leverages 3rd party videos players instead of a native one like Apple.

To test this, go to a YouTube video that has annotations and other interactivity via your Safari browser on your iPhone, click play on the video. Notice the native iOS player open the video and all annotations/in-video features are stripped. Apple likes things to be in their control, so by default all videos playback via their player. Something to consider if your video marketing strategy requires in-video interactivity and feature sets.

2. Interactive Video Player Add-ons May Not Work

I was working with a large software company here in the Bay Area to deploy an internal video portal and training environment for global employees, and in the final stages of mapping out mobile deployment we ran into a major roadblock. In the case of this company and use case, video was to be deployed behind the “firewall” with a web portal and a mobile browsing experience. Specific videos hosted in the portal were tied to training initiatives and included interactive chapters and quizzes layered in the video player. (These quizzes were standard features of the video software platform we were deploying.)

When testing playback across devices we discovered that only on iPhone iOS devices quizzes and interactivity items would be stripped, just like in the YouTube example above. Oddly, when played back on the iPad iOS, video playback was not forced to the native Apple video player, unless “full screen” mode was selected. This posed a huge challenge for my client, as they no longer had a consistent video experience across devices and employees watching videos on their iPhones would miss the educational and certification checkpoints created by the interactivity.

3. Tracking and analytics is limited

One of the great things about online video is the analytics, it gives us marketers a bag of candy when it comes to understanding how contacts are engaging with our brand and what content is most desired. Video marketing software provides metrics in the form identity tracking, heat maps, and engagement reports. Most of these software solutions run on cookie-based systems, which are much more limited on mobile browsers. The results in most cases are no heat maps and detailed information form mobile viewers, but this should change in the future.

Obviously there is a way to go with mobile video and the industry is demanding solutions. In the mean-time marketers looking to implement consistent video viewing experiences across desktop and mobile should consider a native iOS app for video playback. This means developing your own branded video application that leverages an embedded video technology from a premium video provider.

To learn more about solving mobile video workflows, contact our strategy team.


Matt is an expert video content marketer with over 20 years of sales and marketing experience. Matt has produced and deployed thousands of videos and is the ultimate curator of online video software. Matt is the Founder and Chief Editor here at 50Wheel.

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