August 17, 2012
Videos are important to your marketing strategy, but the ability to easily share them is much more important.
Video sharing took a giant leap forward with the launch of YouTube in 2005. With over 2 billion views daily, which encompass 83% of the US Internet audience according to comScore, YouTube has solidified video as the most compelling communication platform of our time. It is not hard to see why video is the fastest growing form of online communication.
Online video is used to entertain, teach and demonstrate. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then, in the words of Dr. James McQuivey with Forrester Research: “a video is worth 1.8 million words.” Or 1,800 pictures, based on my calculations. So exactly why is video so engaging, and such a staple of our digital life?
One theory is that video is gaining importance because it is a familiar medium that requires less processing time than reading. Reading for information has become passé. Just look at the nation’s number one newspaper, USA Today. The reader is challenged to find an article of more than 100 words.
Over the past few decades, our collective attention spans have decreased as we are forced to consume more information every day. Our brains have been steadily conditioned to accept a summary of information – which can be more quickly processed – in order to make room for the next “data dump” that is just moments away.
This is the rationale behind Twitter’s 140 character-per-post limitation. It’s the increasingly pervasive “get, got and move-along” mode of information dissemination and delivery which has us, as a society, both overwhelmed and constantly thirsting for more.
Video is uniquely well suited to fit into this equation, because it satisfies our senses of sight and sound and can stimulate our intellect, all at the same time. We can process information more quickly if a medium simultaneously provides the context and the detail of the information we are consuming. Don’t make me process the words and mentally envision a red flowing dress on a tall European model with a slightly olive complexion. Just show me the imagery, and I will decide what it means to me. This learned behavior leads to shorter attention spans.
Research has found a fifth of online video viewer’s attention spans lasting only a few seconds, no matter what the length of the clip.
I call it “Premature Video Boredom,” or PVB.
With so much choice and distraction, it’s not surprising to discover that it doesn’t take long for a video viewer to get bored and click away. In fact, for 20% of viewers it takes 10 seconds or less to abandon a video that doesn’t hold their attention, according to research conducted by Visible Measures. By 30 seconds into an online video, as many as third of viewers have moved on. At the one minute mark, fully 44% have left, and almost 60% of viewers are gone at the 2 minute mark.
Just like its sexual counterpart, PVB causes relationship problems. Instead of dealing with two admirers, we are dealing with consumers and marketers. Just like the stilted lover, one side of the pair remains unsatisfied. The remedies are few, but what is known is that the quality of the content in concert with the desire to consume determines the level of video engagement.
Let’s further complicate the issue by pointing to a related trend that is headed in the opposite direction. The length of the average video online is increasing. The average length of an online video is just under 6.5 minutes according to comScore. That is an increase of 23% over the past 12 months.
With attention span decreasing and video length increasing, we are creating a giant divide that will make video less effective in the future. More importantly, many companies that use video as a primary online marketing tool are wrongly focused more on the quantity of content rather than the quality of the content – especially during the first 10 seconds of the video.
What if the first 10 seconds of your video were automatically shown even before the customer actively decides to click to watch? Rather than forcing a prospective customer to enter your store in order to see your “signage,” what if we place the “billboard” where it belongs and is most effective – out front for all to see.
Sound familiar? It should – it’s a tried and true way of doing business.
Video engagement will only increase if the quality of the customer clicking-through improves. Placing the “billboard” out in front of the video will allow the customer to self-filter and provide a more meaningful context in which to consume the information. So calling the sign painter to come and plaster the windows with neon orange and yellow brush strokes is the brick and mortar version of the online solution.
No need for paint, just show a teaser of the video to come, to better qualify a customer and get them better engaged before they click “play.”
PVB? Solved. Well, at least for now….
Guest author Graham McFarland is founder of ExpressDigital and PhotoReflect, a software and web services company focused on enhancing photography workflows. In 2011, Graham joined Cinegif to help build a business around the company’s patented video conversion and compression technologies. He also teaches and mentors other high-tech entrepreneurs at the startup incubator Tech Ranch.
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