Contrary to popular opinion, mobile screens are regularly being tapped for streaming longer-form video – and South African consumers are getting in on the action.
This is according to Mobile Video Usage: A Global Perspective, a new comprehensive survey of consumers from 24 countries around the world who watch smartphone video, published today by the global Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

South Africa recorded the second highest 42% year-on-year increase in the viewing of video on smartphones, tying with New Zealand and Canada and surpassing the UK (40%). The country with the most prominent uptick in video on their smartphones was the US (50%).

“As the IAB SA, we’re delighted with South Africa’s inclusion in this global research study by the IAB. The overall findings underpin many conversations and opinion pieces of late, pointing to the change in audience consumption and ever increasing use of smart devices to stream video content.

“South Africa’s claim of the second-highest year-on-year increase from the 24 countries surveyed, somewhat, contradicts the ever-present reference to limited broadband access and further illustrates that South Africa has a burgeoning online video consumption market, ripe for engagement,” says Gustav Goosen, head of Research Council for IAB SA. “We look forward to South Africa’s participation in the next global study and we’re expecting the SA market to feature even more prominently in the key findings.”

A trend towards watching more video content on mobile phones, ultimately impacts the actual content that is being watched and how long it is watched for. Thirty-six percent of the total respondents said they watch videos that are 5-minutes or longer on their phones daily or more frequently. Smartphone video viewers in Turkey, Finland, China, Russia and Singapore are particularly frequent viewers of such videos.

Even longer programming, such as movies and full-length television show episodes, are also viewed by audiences on mobile devices, with Chinese viewers being the most inclined to watch both films and TV shows on their mobile
screens. Consumers in China (37%) and Singapore (35%) report the highest incidence of watching less TV due to streaming more on mobile. If South Africa’s increasing consumption of online video content is anything to go by, the way viewers interact with local television is set to shift dramatically.

When mobile video viewers do watch traditional television, however, 22 percent are regularly doing so while watching video simultaneously on their phone. This video dual-screening tendency is evident across all markets measured, with the exception of Japan.

“The popularity of digital video is evident across small screens the world over,” says Anna Bager, Senior Vice President Mobile and Video, IAB, and General Manager of the IAB Digital Video and Mobile Marketing Centers of Excellence. “The fact that people are not only watching short snippets of programming, but committing to longer form content on their phones, opens doors for brands to be part of this impressive mobile engagement. However, the findings are that viewers around the world are now video dual screening while watching TV, points to an emerging challenge for marketers: How do you grab a viewer’s attention when it’s divided between two simultaneous video feeds?”

Across the 24 countries in the survey, there are several common ways that mobile video viewers discover digital video to view on their phones, including: YouTube (62%); social media platforms (33%); search results (20%); and advertising (14%).

When looking for mobile video to watch, advertising has even more influence in the US (22%) and Canada (18%).

Apps are indisputably the main method for viewing mobile video in each of the markets studied. Nearly half of respondents overall (48%) said that they “only” or “mostly” leverage mobile apps to stream video on their phones, with the UK (63%), Brazil (60%), and Turkey (58%) leading the trend. By contrast, across the survey sample only 18% said they “only” or “mostly” use mobile websites to view video.

More than a quarter (28%) of viewers across the participating countries said that they often see ads on mobile video that they’ve already seen on TV. Numbers climb higher in France (38%), Turkey (36%), Finland (35%) and the U.S. (35%). But, marketers might be missing out with this approach – since 80% or more of consumers in most markets expressed interest in any kind of tailored ad versus “I prefer no tailoring of ads at all.”

The study shows that there is potential for mobile video monetisation through subscription and pay-on-demand models. In several markets, viewers already demonstrate a willingness to pay for video content that is streamed to phones: China (33%); UK (25%); Canada (23%); US (23%); and Australia (21%).

Still, there are barriers to overcome for further success in pay-for models – and much need to grow mobile video advertising revenue. Seventy-eight percent of respondents overall stated that they would rather have free mobile video supported by ads.