How Carl’s Jr. Makes the Most of a 6-Second Mobile Video Ad

Product placement is key

Headshot of Lauren Johnson

Following up on this year's racy regional Super Bowl commercial with Charlotte McKinney, Carl's Jr. needed an eye-popping mobile ad that used the same creative.

But building a prominent smartphone promo is a tough task. For instance, a survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers in October found that only 6 percent of people intentionally click on a mobile ad and interacted with a brand.

So, Carl's Jr. and agency 72andSunny started running a video campaign powered by Opera Mediaworks on Jan. 31 to hype the Feb. 1 Super Bowl spot, and it will continue through March. Six-second video ads—placed in apps such as Time Inc.'s People CelebWatch, USA Today, Shazam and Pinger—automatically play as people scroll through news feeds, much like Facebook's autoplay videos.

After the short clip ends, viewers can choose to watch four extended campaign videos or click through to save a $1 coupon to their phone.

Here's a video showing the full experience:

Opera Mediaworks Native Mobile Video Example: Carl's Jr. | 72andSunny | Initiative from Opera Mediaworks on Vimeo.

Tom Dunlap, chief production officer at 72andSunny, said the early stats are promising. That's primarily because the creative was developed to be watched in eight to 10 seconds, which he said is the sweet spot for mobile video.

"We know there's a significant media buy around mobile—there always is now—you just have to think about the assets you're creating when you're on set and plan for that," Dunlap explained.

So far, the fast food brand's video has generated a 42 percent completion rate, more than double mobile's 20 percent to 25 percent norm. About 4 percent of viewers have clicked to expand the video to full screen, more than the industry's 3 percent average. And 1.14 percent of people clicked through after the video ended, up from a .5 average.

The campaign is part of a new program from Opera Mediaworks called the Native Video Fund. Fifteen brands (including Carl's Jr., Adidas, General Motors, Lenovo and Walt Disney Studios) and their agencies are testing the effectiveness of mobile video through the program.

In exchange for committing to work with Opera Mediaworks, the mobile ad platform covers $100,000 in a media buy. Marketing teams can also choose to divvy up the money so that it covers a $50,000 media buy and $50,000 in production costs.

"We know what TV [creative] is going to be like—we've been doing that for 50 years," Dunlap noted. "What we're just learning is how these new screens are working."

Of course, the idea behind the Native Video Fund is to capitalize on the growth of native video, particularly as it expands on social platforms Facebook and Twitter. During Facebook's fourth-quarter earnings, it claimed that 3 billion views are happening daily on its site and apps.

Will Kassoy, CMO of Opera Mediaworks, added that the program is designed for more than simply touting his company's new ad format. It's also intended for brands to rethink mobile advertising conceptually.

"The spirit of this whole initiative for us was about how to get upstream and proactive with brands and agencies and how to do storytelling in shorter ad units," he said. "If you're just going to take a TV commercial and put it in that native environment, it's not going to be as effective as if you did something purpose-built."


@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.