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People now watch three times more videos on smartphones and tablets than they did two years ago. So as more press play, how does what they are seeing on their mobile devices differ from other digital video formats?

"The elements of storytelling do not change", said Nathalie Malinarich, mobile editor, BBC News, speaking at the Mobile News Summit in Hamburg today.

She explained the differences between video formats stem from a change in people's video consumption.

"TV was a family occasion, it was by appointment," she said. "Mobile is so personal, it's yours, you don't lend it to anyone."

Smartphones are also very tactile and connected, both to the internet and also to family and friends.

"You're always distracted when you're on your phone," she added. At the BBC, where 60 per cent of traffic comes from mobile, there are two key considerations that shape the broadcaster's mobile video productions.

The first is whether viewers have access to headphones when playing a video or would prefer to watch videos designed to tell a story without relying on audio to get the facts across.

The BBC has been addressing this with its 15-second videos called BBC Shorts, initially produced for Instagram but now used across social media channels.

Another dilemma around mobile video is orientation: do people prefer to watch videos in portrait mode or do they flip their phones?

While the BBC does use vertical video, it is mostly published through channels such as YouTube and Facebook. "The more people start consuming content in vertical, it might become the norm," said Malinarich.
But it will not run on TV however, as it does not suit the platform.

Mobile video is also more intimate than television, and the BBC is working with reporters to produce videos with a different approach to storytelling.

BBC reporter Matthew Price filmed his first time walking through the refugee camp in Budapest's train station, a video initially meant to be produced on mobile for mobile, but eventually broadcast on television as well, said Malinarich.

"The immediacy of it, that's very valuable," she said, adding that it is a powerful video to watch on TV and even more powerful on a mobile phone "when you hold it in your hand".

Explainer videos are another opportunity to create a stronger connection with the audience, she said, as they can be designed to become more personal, almost a "one-on-one conversation".

"Vertical [video], it makes it even more intimate. It’s like FaceTiming someone."

Malinarich also shared seven tips for producing great mobile videos:
  • think about the context the viewer is in when watching;
  • make it grabby – "you have to grab someone's attention from the very start of the video";
  • be concise; 
  • use clear language;
  • be authentic - "because it's personal and it's in your hand, the tone of voice is hugely important";
  • make it shareable - "your future depends on your content being shared";
  • explore storytelling techniques.

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