Video itself is one of the most powerful mediums of communication. Even since the time of black and white television sets, every evolution of video has seen the format boom in popularity, triggering further developments in tech and innovative uses of the format. Consider the modern media management sector, a whole ever-evolving industry built around the management of one thing: video assets.
It’s not difficult to understand why video is so prolific. Humans are inherently lazy beings. Much of the inventions and innovations developed over the last century have stemmed from the need to quicken processes and reduce labour – the tractor, the computer, the lightbulb. Video is arguably an extension of this – it’s much easier to consume than text, but its efficiency is much higher than that of images, given how much information video can communicate in just a few seconds.
Video has become so omnipresent in our day-to-day lives that we sometimes don’t even realise how much information we have absorbed from it. Not only does video engage our sight, it’s multidimensional, stimulating aural senses and in some cases, evoking memories and therefore feelings. Videos are special simply because of their ability to tell stories, and stories are how we learn. Many of us will remember the order of the planets in our solar system because ‘My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles’. Then there’s the allegory of the Tortoise and the Hare – children learn by being told stories, and the best thing about them? They’re difficult to forget!
Compared with other formats, video content holds a viewer’s attention for significantly longer. Research shows that people spend longer on a web page that contains a video than they do on a web page that does not – over double the time, according to one study. This type of data tells us that video is pretty engaging. But unfortunately, many of us are guilty of judging the success of a video by how many views it has had, and this is no indication of whether it encouraged any type of meaningful engagement from viewers.
Nowadays, with so much content thrown at the consumer (100 million hours of videos are watched on Facebook every day) it’s becoming much more difficult to engage them – picture the endless scrolling of Facebook users, watching a few seconds of one video before scrolling to the next. Speaking on the company’s third quarter earnings call, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said that video is too often a “passive consumption experience” and the time spent watching it should not be “a goal in itself”.
Video creators must avoid targeting content to the widest audience possible, often meaning the lowest-common-denominator, and personalise messaging to specific groups of individuals. This way, as long as the video content is more meaningful, they can ensure what they get back from the viewer is also meaningful and more valuable.
One such industry making use of personalisation to drive video engagement is the marketing sector. In fact, 73 percent of B2B marketers say that video positively impacts marketing ROI and Jim Nail, principal analyst at Forrester, predicts that this will be enough to warrant more investment:
We believe that personalised video will command increasingly larger portions of advertising and marketing budgets due to its ROI improvement over traditional video content and other outbound methods of communication.
Brands and companies often have so much information about their consumers that it would be criminal not to consider personalising video messages to individual viewers. A personalised message can combat the constant overload of information facing the average viewer, pulling us out of the habit of perpetual scrolling. The average person might track a video’s success by how many views it totals, but this just rewards passive attention, regardless of engagement. The corporate video producer must instead take the level of interaction for a video as an accurate measure of its success.
As of 2015, Facebook itself will now boost a video’s organic reach depending on whether it deeply engages viewers. It makes this decision based on whether a viewer turned on the sound or made the video full screen, judging that these are good signs a viewer wanted to watch the content. It might seem strange, but if you want to reach a bigger audience, make your videos targeted to the right individuals.
Why is Video Such a Powerful Tool?
Good videos tell memorable stories. Think about the last time someone told you a story, whether you voiced it or not, I bet your initial response was to use a similar memory or experience to empathise with the person telling the story. That’s not to say only sad stories can evoke empathy. A powerful story stimulates the same part of the brain that would ‘light up’ if you actually experienced the event in the story. Were someone to describe their first half-marathon, your motor cortex – or the part of the brain concerned with movements – would light up.
Videos telling stories evoke emotional reactions, causing viewers to take action or find out more. When we personalise these stories, we can discover a way of maximising the reaction, meaning more valuable engagement with the video content, and ultimately, a more powerful tool for communication.