It’s no surprise that we’re spending more time than ever on our phones. Earlier this year, eMarketer reported that for the first time, US consumers were spending more time on their phones than watching TV.
Media companies are taking note and developing more ways to deliver short form content to viewers on mobile. In an effort to reach a Gen Z audience, we’re seeing more apps with short videos and interactive elements. Last week, we had the opportunity to interview the founder of one of those companies, Benoit Vatere of Mammoth Media.
Mammoth Media is behind the app Yarn, which shares short stories in a texting format. New story episodes are posted daily, with twists, turns, and surprises that keep audiences engaged. Mammoth Media is also the company behind Wishbone, a comparison polling app. Combined, the two have over 30 million monthly users. Mammoth Media knows what it takes to create and sustain a mobile app for Gen Z.
With more mobile apps, including Quibi, looking at tapping into that market in the upcoming months, we asked Vatere how to reach the mobile audience and make a successful service. The short answer was that companies need to take the time to find out what the audience wants. Here’s how they can do it.
The purpose of short form mobile media is to create content that can be viewed quickly. Vatere said they’ve found that keeping content around two minutes is ideal. At that length, viewers can watch a quick episode in between other activities, without getting distracted or losing interest.
Next up, it’s important to look at partnerships, rather than competition. While many consumers are using their phones more and more each year, they’re also still turning on their TV. Short form media companies should look for ways to team up with those creating long form content, using the short videos as a means of piquing interest and bringing attention to the shows, movies, and books available elsewhere.
Finally, there’s the pricing issue. One question that keeps coming up in talks of short form media is whether people will pay a monthly fee when there’s so much great content available on platforms like YouTube and Facebook Watch. The key, Vatere says, is finding the pricing structure that works with the audience. Some will be willing to pay monthly to skip ads. Others will prefer one time transactions. There isn’t one right answer and it will take time for each app to find the structure that works for that unique audience.
We had to ask the big question. From the point of view of a company that has created successful short form media apps, will Quibi be successful? That depends on whether Quibi CEO Meg Whitman and founder Jeff Katzenberg and their team put in the time, make the effort, and stay open to learning what their audience wants. The company has already invested heavily in content and marketing. With the service still months away from launching, they don’t yet know whether their celebrity heavy content will be worth paying for monthly or if their partnerships with mobile companies will lead to viewers actually opening the app. We’ll have to wait until the app launches in April to find out.
In the meantime, Mammoth Media has launched another new media app. Booknotes gives users short, easy to read or listen to summaries of nonfiction, fiction, and original titles. It takes about 10-15 minutes to listen to or read a summary so you can decide if you want to invest the time to read the full book, or just to give you the short version of what a book is about so you can join the conversation. Check it out in the App Store or Google Play Store.
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