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Mobile Creative Takes A Village


CarlsJrBest practice No. 1: A tiny burger on a tiny screen isn’t going to convince anyone of anything.

When Opera House, the creative strategy arm and ad lab under mobile ad platform Opera Mediaworks, consults with a brand or an agency on a mobile campaign, developing the right creative is the big thing – especially when it comes to video.

That was part of the brief for MDC Partners agency 72andSunny, which tapped Opera House to support Carl Jr.’s 2015 Super Bowl campaign starring model Charlotte McKinney. As part of the assignment, Opera House would help develop purpose-built mobile creative for the burger brand.

Opera House, which employs around 60 creatives, strategists and technologists, has a client list that also includes Adidas, Carat, Sony Pictures, Fiat, Amobee, EA and Mediacom. Opera House operatives meet with an agency’s creative team, ideally in pre-production, to help ensure that the resultant footage makes sense for mobile. The technologists in the house develop the mobile ad units and Opera Mediaworks handles the media buy.

“Often, what’s running on mobile is just recut from an existing 30-second or 15-second spot,” said Nikao Yang, SVP of global marketing and business development at Opera Mediaworks and its video arm, AdColony. “But users tend to scroll right past video content in-feed and, unless you can serve up a so-called thumb-stopping moment, brands aren’t seeing the success they’re used to from traditional full-screen video ads.”

Length of video is one issue – Yang said that between six and 10 seconds makes the most sense for in-feed – but so is something as simple as product framing.

“For example, you’ve got to show a close-up shot of the product,” Yang said. “Because people aren’t going to be looking at that hamburger on a 60-inch screen mounted on a wall – they’re going to be looking at it on a 3.5-inch screen in the palm of their hand.”

But in the case of Carl’s Jr., the goal was to get consumers to look at both – a series of short mobile videos seeded in popular apps and on social media to drum up buzz the day before and the month after Carl’s Jr. ran its official 30-second TV spot on Super Bowl Sunday.

“We knew we wanted to take advantage of this big cultural moment and that mobile would be a big part of that,” said Tom Dunlap, chief production officer at 72andSunny. “But there was also this feeling of, ‘Oh crap – this is a completely different medium. How can we take advantage of it with content that’s sticky, shareable, effective and looks good?”

A big part of that is avoiding the temptation to reuse existing video content in-feed on mobile. 72andSunny took Opera’s advice on video length, aspect ratio and the like, and shot additional content that would play best in the mobile environment, Dunlap said.

The six-second mobile-only autoplay spots Opera created for 72andSunny on behalf of Carl’s Jr. expanded to full-screen when a user tapped, after which an end card would appear with access to more video content along with the opportunity to download a $1 coupon.


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72andSunny and Carl’s Jr.’s 2015 Super Bowl campaign is a prime example of the types of campaigns that Opera House produces with its partners. Partnering with Opera House allows brands and agencies to take full advantage of its data-driven, creative best practices for mobile short-form videos.

The Opera Mediaworks portion of the campaign ran in-feed in apps like USA Today, Shazam and Pinger. Those ads appeared in concurrence with efforts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Although the KPI was centered on broad reach – hence the Super Bowl buy – Opera did layer on some secondary targeting for the mobile-only ads to reach male sports enthusiasts aged 18 to 34.

Not including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the purpose-built native mobile videos performed 2X better than non-mobile-optimized videos that ran on the Opera Mediaworks platform, and saw a 7X higher engagement rate than in-feed display, Yang said. In the weeks following the Super Bowl, the mobile clips garnered a 42% completion rate.

“We start the creative conversation and from there it turns into a media optimization conversation,” said 72andSunny’s Dunlap. “We focus on creative strategy, brand management, the big idea, production – so it’s important for agencies like ours to partner with media early on, even before starting, because media can really inform the brief.”

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