The power of video in marketing and advertising is well documented. A simple search will return a limitless list of statistics proving its power. And simple observation and introspection will reveal its affect on you.
Here’s just one riveting fact you may not know: while a picture may be worth 1,000 words, videos are worth 1.8 million, according to Forrester.
But the discussion of the impact and growth of video has not distinguished the kinds of video that have the most impact — and I don’t mean social versus display versus television.
There’s a problem with the video explosion: many of these videos aren’t worth watching.
As the minimum cost of production has dropped to the point that anyone with a smartphone can capture high-quality video, the communicative functions of video have grown. How-tos and testimonials are newer additions that come to mind (few businesses would spend $25,000 for a relatively low-impact video).
But there’s a problem with the video explosion: many of these videos aren’t worth watching. We’re not talking about an explosion of amazingly crafted or impactful film. We’re often referencing videos that are there for the sake of being a video asset (and this is coming from someone who freakin’ loves creating videos).
Amazing video isn’t simply a sexy version of your website or brochure. It’s the precise combination of sights and sounds that tell a story — a combination that moves viewers. Film can be so powerful that it invigorates more of your senses. If you see an engrossing sequence through a lavender field, you may very well smell it.
As Martin Scorsese details, even a great combination of moving images is more than the sum of its parts:
“Each separate cinematic image is comprised of a succession of still frames that creates the impression of motion. They are recordings of instants in time. But the moment you put them together, something else happens…
One image is joined with another image, and a third phantom event happens in the mind’s eye – perhaps an image, perhaps a thought, perhaps a sensation. Something occurs, something absolutely unique to this particular combination or collision of moving images.”
How-to and testimonial videos unquestionably have their place, but will they create the “phantom event” that sticks with us? There are ways to do it. But video has such incredible potential for story that when it becomes a sequence of benefit statements, Steven Spielberg sheds a single tear. He’s often seen weeping uncontrollably.
As Steven Soderbergh said, “Cinema is not about format, and it’s not about venue. Cinema is an approach. Cinema is a state of mind on the part of the filmmaker. I’ve seen commercials that have cinema in them, and I’ve seen Oscar-winning movies that don’t.”
Take Virgin America’s flight safety video that currently has over 13.5 million views. Safely grounded people are choosing to watch a video with content they’d normally ignore. This may not be Soderbergh’s cinema, but it was damn-sure effective. And it never would’ve happened if someone didn’t ask, “Do we have to make another flight safety video that no one will pay attention to?” I’d like to think that I’d have asked that, at least.
“Cinema is not about format, and it’s not about venue. Cinema is an approach. Cinema is a state of mind.” —Steven Soderbergh
Anyone involved in the creation of video should have a cinematic, storyteller’s approach — the creatives, the account team, and the client. Because if we’re all going to work together on something that has the power of 1.8 million words, we better be prepared to make all of them count.
So when you’re thinking of investing in video — and choosing concepts and reviewing scripts and watching rough cuts — ask yourself: Will my target audience pay attention? Will they care?
“The greatest filmmakers, like the greatest novelists and poets, are trying to create a sense of communion with the viewer,” writes Scorsese. “They’re not trying to seduce them or overtake them, but, I think, to engage with them on as intimate a level as possible.”
Here’s to your next video — an intimate connection between you and your customers.