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Thanks to mobile, online video is always on-demand—people can watch virtually anywhere, anytime, and on any screen. That means more opportunities to reach consumers. New research from Flamingo and Ipsos Connect uncovers how new online video consumption habits can help you meet your audience.

Video content used to be confined to a TV screen in the living room. If people wanted to watch the game, snuggle up with a romantic comedy, or see what was happening in the world, they picked up a remote and flipped through the channels.

Mobile has changed all of that, allowing viewers to tune in from virtually anywhere and at any time. According to a recent study, one in three adults between ages 18 and 54 use their smartphone as their primary device for watching online video.1

These new viewing habits have changed the nature of in-home viewing. Half of YouTube users who watch YouTube videos on their smartphones watch while at home.2 But just because people can watch on mobile doesn't mean they're only watching on mobile. In fact, the time people spend watching YouTube on a TV screen has more than doubled year over year.3

One in three adults between ages 18 and 54 use their smartphone as their primary device for watching online video.

To learn more about the role of online video in people's lives today—and what that implies for brands—Google partnered with Flamingo and Ipsos Connect to conduct a survey and interview consumers about how they watch and where. We found that people use different screens for different reasons, including the type of video content.

Whether people want to master a specific look or to see who won on last night's awards show, those who watch beauty, fashion,4 entertainment, and pop culture5 YouTube videos prefer to watch on their smartphones. "The day after the Oscars, I watched a 'top moments from last night' kind of video on my way to work," says Jim in New York.

"I like watching beauty videos by bloggers on my phone when I'm putting on my own makeup," says Veronica in Chicago. "It's kind of like talking to a friend when I'm getting ready."

Mobile Has Changed The Way We Watch | YouTube Advertisers

For travel6 and food7 videos, people primarily watch on their desktop or laptop. "I watched a video about Patagonia on my computer," Kylie in New York says. "I was already on my computer going through some emails and stuff, and it came up on my inbox."

People who watch beauty, fashion, entertainment, and pop culture YouTube videos prefer to watch on their smartphones.

TV is still where people turn most often for news,8 sports,9 and comedy,10 though. For some people that were interviewed, group viewing works best with a larger screen. "We cast a lot when we have people over, mostly just funny or entertaining YouTube videos," says Paul in Chicago. "A big group of our friends will come over and we'll each go round sharing our favorite videos on the TV screen."

What this means for your brand

The consumer shift to mobile creates significant new opportunities for your brand to connect to your audience. Here are two ways you can plan for this world that's driven by preferences and online video trends:

  • Follow the video: Your consumers are following their passions with online video, from their smartphones to their computers to their TVs. Ask yourself: Can people watch your videos on all devices? Are you thinking holistically about video on all screens?
  • Understand the context: Think about what's happening in the moment when consumers are watching your ad. Where are they? What are they doing? What device are they on? Figure out what is likely to be their mindset in that moment, and choose the best ad format, length, and placement accordingly. 

Watch this video to learn more about how to adapt your online video content to reach your consumer:

The Near Frontier of Mobile Video | YouTube Advertisers