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Young people now spend 47 minutes a day with video on mobile and gravitate to short-form, premium content, according to a new joint study from National Research Group and Snap Inc.

1,000 smartphone owners in the US covering the Gen Z and Millennial age ranges were polled for their video viewing habits in May this year with the aim of teasing out a few key insights and trends for marketers and advertisers.

The study found that the smartphone is now the primary content consumption device for people aged 13 to 35, and engagement continues to rise on them having soared 40% during 2020 alone.

More than three quarters said that they have spent more time with video content this year compared to 2019, and the majority of respondents now watch a video at least once a day.

General screen time is also increasing – respondents averaged almost four and a half hours a day on smartphones, with 47 minutes of that time being taken up by video consumption.

While smartphones lead the way for media consumption for younger people, video content is still consumed more on other connected devices and over-the-top media services, which account for 50 minutes of viewing time.

The smartphone is way ahead of laptops and desktops (24 minutes) though and is also edging out the traditional TV.

Mobile lagged behind TV by six minutes two years ago, but the study expects the latter to decline through the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.

The preference for mobile-optimised content is strong with younger age groups compared to older generations, who still log a considerable amount of TV time each day.

For Millennials and Gen Z, short form remains king as 80% of respondents said that high-quality, snackable content is best as it allows them to jump into trending conversations and keep track of current events without a significant time investment.

70% said that they prefer to engage with clips that have a shorter runtime, which goes against a recent trend in wider marketing where bite-size is being eschewed for premium programming.

More than half of young people said that full-length video takes up too much of their time.

Brands looking to engage with teenagers and people in their 20s need to leverage social platforms and other digital channels as 85% of respondents said that tech is an important means for them to express themselves and contribute to something.

Video content also helps young viewers to feel more connected to the story, provides them with a “sense of adventure and excitement”, and empowers them to be a trendsetter.

Snap director Vanessa Guthrie added: “The stories that you tell must lean into the intimacy factor of the phone. Beyond the fact that it’s a totally different medium, it’s so much more personal – and so the types of stories, and the way you tell them, have to be truly made for mobile.”

Video has also been used as a coping mechanism for people during the lockdown, with 88% revealing that it entertained them and helped them to escape with laughter and distraction and 77% saying that it aided their own personal growth and wellness.


If the saying ‘a picture can tell a thousand words’ is true, then the use of video, which is essentially a string of many pictures, should not be overlooked when it comes to content marketing. Each month, around six billion hours of video is watched on YouTube, showing just how popular this medium is. Therefore, it is vital that content marketing strategies realise video’s potential and include it in their campaigns.

Educate instead of entertain

A key aspect of video content is to remember that educating works better than entertaining. There are, of course, those viral videos of bizarre and humorous moments that gain millions of views in a short amount of time. However, this often occurs more by luck than judgement. It is, therefore, essential for marketing firms to focus on educating their customers as a priority, even if this education is wrapped up within a funny video.

Educating consumers is nothing new. For example, McDonald’s used a two-minute video in 2014 as a way to respond to negative rumours about their chicken nuggets. Not only did this help to battle bad press, but improved the brand identity of the fast food chain too.

Social media is important

It may sound obvious, but social media remains extremely important, and a modern firm must have an account on at least one popular platform. However, whilst many companies utilise places like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to share their content, a lot still regard video sharing sites as separate entities. This is not altogether true though, and firms would be wise to realise that uploading videos to platforms like YouTube and Snapchat gives consumers the chance to easily share and engage with content.

In addition, diversifying into more platforms gives companies the chance to reach a larger audience. This grows their social media footprint and can result in a bigger demand for services and products.

Vertical videos are on the rise 

Vertical videos have always been avoided if possible. Consumers are accustomed to television’s horizontal frame, and there’s an ongoing debate about the perceived low quality of vertical videos. With the two black sidebars taking up the screen, vertical videos have, traditionally, been mocked.

However, though this video format is not the best for computers, they can find favour on mobile devices. And with the rise of mobile, it’s not hard to see how video formats might also change. The evolution of video means that content creators may well see the ways in which they create video change too. Vertical videos have a narrower format, and the areas at the top and bottom of the frame become more important as they are key focus points. It also promotes a more personal and in-your-face style.

Utilise video for ongoing success

Video is unlikely to go away and is, in fact, continuing to rise in popularity. Therefore, savvy and forward thinking firms would do well to embrace this form of media and build it into their content marketing strategies with increasing levels..