A recent discussion in our LinkedIn group Video for Technology Sales and Marketing took up the question of viewer attention-span length from several points of view, and it got me thinking.
How long we can realistically expect someone to watch a marketing video that doesn’t speak to their own specific need or interest?
Is video like a cold call?
Ryan Hamer pointed out that a salesperson has about 10-20 seconds on a cold call to “break through” the reluctance of the person on the other end to hear a spiel. Video, he noted, has the advantage of being a richer sensory experience, but
Consumers are accustomed to the Facebook/YouTube mentality of a short, shocking, or funny video that they will want to share with someone else. It isn’t easy to pull off but it is something every business should explore.
I pointed out — and Ryan agreed — that “funny” is iffy in a business context and, of course, exceedingly difficult to be sure of in any context.
Another participant, Randy Tinfow brought up his experience studying viewers of corporate videos:
As you mention with cold calling, nailing the Interest Step in the first 10 seconds is crucial to retaining audience. It’s shocking how many videos drone on for 45 – 60 seconds of canned intros without any promise of revelatory content. In fact if we break a 3:30 video into chapters, and call one of them INTRO, 47% of viewers skip it entirely, assuming it’s boring and useless. 😉
What is the first thing viewers see?
When we write short video scripts, we always try to get salespeople and other subject matter experts to tell us how they think we should begin the video — what words and images should appear first in the very first scene. After all, immediately after clicking the play button, viewers are most keen to exercise their perceptual skills and determine what you’re showing them. (Not long after that, viewers tend to go into a “trance state” and will misunderstand a lot of what the video is telling them anyway, according to research discussed here).
Deciding up front what viewers will be shown when they hit the “Play” button is how we get everyone focused on the main point of the video. This can be difficult to do. With product-centric videos, marketers are apt to try to maximize the number of product messages and audiences covered — thereby diluting the whole concoction.
Is three seconds enough
Along these lines, a Facebook study of video ads found a lift in ad recall, brand awareness and purchase consideration even for people who only saw the poster frame as they scrolled past the video. Even more surprising, after massaging the numbers to estimate campaign value at different lengths of view, the Facebook researchers found that nearly half the campaign value derived from the first three seconds of a video ad!
Now, whether we can interpolate from these consumer-oriented findings to B2B technology videos — which are not really ads, after all — is certainly open to question. But I think it is fair to suggest that these findings at support my contention that what to start with is the most important decision you make in developing a video. Skip the introduction. Show the viewer something that really matters to him or her.