Videos are Just Lacking Something


Dead Video Tape from the Dark Ages

I don’t know about you but over the last few years I have watched video explode online.   It’s a good thing in a way.  It has served its purpose, even if it has killed the IRC star. I have nothing against video per say.   However sometimes it just isn’t the best medium to present information in.

The Art of Information.

When you are referred to an article, generally you want to scan over it, determine if it is worth reading, and if it is, then  generally you will read the entire article or post.   If you are like me then you will even at this stage scan the article and process it very quickly – after all we all have busy lives that we don’t want to clutter them with information that may not be worthwhile.

So what happens when you encounter an article that has been presented just as a video.   You can’t scan it quickly.   You can’t determine if this 10, 20 or 40 minute video is really worth your time from a first glance.  Sure you can start watching, but if it’s got all the pearls of wisdom at the end, and the early sections are boring, you are just as likely to close it all down and leave.

This leaves you with the choice, do you stay and watch a video and hope it is worthwhile or not.   In general whether or not you watch is  determined by the presenters reputation or level of recommendation that brought you here in the first place, and the amount of free time you have to spare.

The solution here is simple – provide a transcript. This way at least we can all see and read what you are talking about with ease.  You see video is not appropriate when presented by itself, especially when you are looking quickly for information

A Conversation is about Discussion.

Lets take this a step further will general discussion. Sites like 12 seconds and Seesmic, that use video commenting around a video forum format.  Sure they are good for building up short run video  conversations.

However  this is all a little moot for those of us that are time poor.  Sitting down and listening to all the conversations in a video thread, can take forever in comparison to the written words on say a traditional blog or forum.   This time increase with videos can be the make or break as to whether people continue to use these types of services in the  longer term.

But …YouTube

“What of YouTube”. you say.   Yes, YouTube and the like is what you expect it to be, you arrive at YouTube, you expect that you have to wait and watch as you are at a video site.   So you have an expectation to wait or leave if it doesn’t interest you.  So in a way it’s a different beastie to say a blog or general site with an embedded video.

The lesson here is, any conversation or information needs to be quick to able to be absorbed.  I guess video has it’s place, just not in a conversational or information presentation mode, what do you think?

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  1. Gary,

    I thought you covered the issues quite well.

    Australian iconoclastic marketer always says people are on the web to either save time or waste time, and watching videos usually falls into the latter.

    Also, as you’ve pointed out, many of us are in a hurry and simply won’t waste time waiting for a video to run.

    Jakob Nielson hand others have pointed out that people online are usually on the hunt for information: They scan, click and move quickly down “scent trails’ that ultimately lead them to their desired info.

    Video prevents this from happening.

    It’s also been pointed out that people assess if they want to stay on a site in less than a second before they go elsewhere, so if video’s are taking more time that to load and watch then sites are losing viewers.

    Transcripts are not only the obvious answer, they are essential for any site serious about attracting browsers and converting them.

  2. Gary,

    Your points are valid, but video has its place in web-based communications. When done correctly, video can be the most emotional and effective medium for communicating online and it doesn’t need to take a long time. We believe that video is going through an evolution online from a linear, passive, broadcast medium to a non-linear, conversational and personalized one. Check out the Montreal Tourism site and you’ll see just how well video can be used in a web-based context. A quick 2 minute video captures the romance of the city while inviting you to explore in more detail the various neighborhoods as you desire.

    I would argue that most online video is the equivalent of the “brochureware” we saw back in the early days of the web. Video producers need to rethink how they produce content to fully take advantage of the interactive story-telling capabilities offered by the web.

    Matt Kaplan
    Chief Strategy Officer

  3. Agree. I use video for fun mostly but sometimes a gem comes around and I’ll take the time to watch it. The recent video by Magnolia CEO after their dataloss and being two examples where I watched the full length video. I never watch product video’s, I detest the inauthenticity of them. Waste of time. Content that is TV replacing still has a place imo. e.g.

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