Mobile Video: People Will Strain to Hear in a Whisper What They Would Ignore in a Scream

Posted: June 19th, 2008 under Uncategorized.
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Quick hit videos delivered to mobile platforms might actually be *more* effective, despite the tiny screen size. Or perhaps because of it – but rather obliquely. Here’s the article from Mobile Insider, quoting Rhythm Media CEO Ujjal Kohli.

Unlike Web video pre-rolls, mobile video is not in a multitasking environment where someone does a quick email check in response to a video ad. He has a point, I think. Counter-intuitively, the smallest screen may require the highest level of involvement. I liken this to the hi-res principle I also see on small screens. The LG phone I use for Verizon VCast Mobile TV, my 5G iPod and the iPhone all share a common technical strength — high pixel counts that make even TV programming involving on a tiny screen.

I am surprised that mobile video on a 2-inch screen can be so involving when it is visually sharp, fluid, with good sound. In other words, tiny video with the attributes of larger experiences overcome some of the size differential. Like the guy who gets you to listen more carefully by using softer tones, the mobile screen makes you work a little harder by getting in close, but it focuses attention.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had cynics sneer that “nobody’s going to watch a movie/read a novel/browse a photo gallery on a itty-bitty 2-inch screen.” Usually followed by a long screed about how Old Media is superior and has nothing to worry about, because mobile is just too small and frustrating to pay attention to for long periods of time.

Well, folks, have you checked out how teenagers (and the rest of us) increasingly take in our media these multi-tasking days? TV on, flipping through stations in search of one without commercials in the background, phone in one ear and laptop on the, uh, lap. Not exactly an environment conducive to focusing on one channel of input, eh?

I’ve had my iPhone for almost nine months now. While I’m not choosing this over the 50-inch plasma to watch The Wire on – I did download the premiere episode of Season 5 to my phone, and watched it on various plane flights, and in hotel rooms. And when I did, I plugged in the headphones, and the rest of the world went away. I watched the hour-long episode in stages, returning to it when I wanted to check out of the rest of the world for a while, and stopping when the plane landed, room service arrived, or someone started semaphoring wildly at the corner of my vision.

I think that if the video is compelling enough, the user will clear out attention space to partake of it, and even to reply/interact by posting comments or a video response through Seesmic. Check out Rhythm’s portfolio of case studies here.

I’d like to return to this topic after I’ve cleared my attention-space decks this week, since it is counter-intuitive (at least on the surface), yet makes sense the more that you think about it.

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