Following up on the IAB Mobile Video Diaries piece from last week I wanted to more closer at when mobile users watch video and why they do it. We already looked at the results in terms of what they’re watching (music videos, movie trailers) and how they share, etc. But some time ago I wrote a piece about when you should publish content based on what platform you’re aiming for and this seems like a small update to that for mobile.

As I said last week, they only polled 200 people in the US for the research and if there are around 100 million smartphone users in the US, that means there’s a pretty large 6.9% margin of error. You can read more about their methodology here.

Users who opted in were required to take part in a 3-stage diary project lasting 2 weeks.  One problem with this is that it depends completely on the user remembering to take all the necessary actions. When they encounter a video they have to click an app icon and fill out a form. So on top of the small sample size there’s an unknown amount of user error, lack of recording and other variables. So I wouldn’t say this is an industry-wide survey and shouldn’t really be extrapolated as such.

Time of Day for Mobile Viewing

Video viewing of these 200 people was lowest in the 4-6am time block and highest in the 4-6 and 7-9pm ranges. Basically the viewing totally bottoms out at around 4am and then slowly starts climbing throughout the day with a small dip just after lunch. Earlier in the morning the users were watching weather and videos made by friends or family. Later it switches more professional content. Afternoons are mostly reserved for short funny clips (so-called viral in the report) while night saw more full-length films than anything else.

Earlier and later in the day recommendations helped shape the viewing while during the day it was influenced by the user’s own needs and wants including doing research on products. In the graph below the gold line represents the amount of viewing, green bubbles are reasons for viewing and blue is content.


Though the study only had 200 participants, this is a pretty telling chart. However, there seems to be a big hole in the data. Web series doesn’t seem to have been a category or even a consideration. No where in any of the charts did I see anything even mentioning web series. There is a ‘catch up TV’ category as well as an ‘other’ category which it might have been dumped into.

Weekends or Weekdays & When Not to Publish

A very interesting pattern emerged for these 200 mobile video viewers. It seems that none of their video viewing is done on Thursdays and very little is done on Wednesdays. In fact, only music videos and funny short video clips were reported as being watched on a Wednesday.

Also, if you’re publishing tutorials or how-to videos, you might be best served to publish on Friday or Saturday as the majority of viewing happens over the weekend.


For the two week period of tracking, these 200 participants recorded seeing 987 pieces of content, or just five per person over the two weeks. According to the chart above, no full-length movies were viewed, as that category is absent. It could just be poor reporting.

Defining the Heavy Mobile Video Viewer

They did put together a generic profile of who the average heavy mobile video viewer is. They’re mostly 25-44 years old, have unlimited data packages, watch about 13.25 videos every two weeks and mostly stream but on occasion will download the video to watch it.

That means it’s about 26 videos a month or nearly one per day. Of course, this is all based off of just 200 participants in the study.

Mobile Video Advertising

Most of the participants, 56% did not recall seeing any mobile video advertisement. Those that did, recalled pre-roll ads the most (63%) with TV commercials (44%) coming second and sponsorships third (35%).


Almost along the same lines as ad recall is ad tolerance. 53% stated they were neutral or receptive while 46% somewhat or strongly disliked the ads. So it’s still a slippery slope on how to approach mobile video ads. Being disruptive and invasive could still be a bad way to approach things, perhaps due to the limited amount of time users spend on the platform or have when wanting to watch a video on it as opposed to other screens where the viewing sessions are generally longer.

The IAB suggest that 10-15-second ads in either pre- or post-roll are the best according to this report. 42% stated they would be alright with a post-roll and 40% said a pre-roll. Everything else was quite low in terms of user desire.


They also suggest having ads complementary or related to the content would be more appreciated with 43% citing that’s how the ads should be tailored.

So according to the report, the main forms of mobile video ads should be 10-15 seconds, in either a pre-roll or post-roll format and they should relate to the content being viewed.

Here’s a link to the full Mobile Phone Video Diaries report.