I always thought that the first 15 seconds of any video were the most important. Why? Because I get bored. I’m browsing, I come across a video, I watch a bit and move on. Unless…
Unless the opening of the video really has something that grabs my attention. This is it. The opening of your video is where you grab people and never let them go, and grab them you must because if people don’t like what they see right away, they move on. The amount of time spent before they make a judgment on whether or not to watch, I feel, varies depending upon the platform but the key point is that people will make a judgment and it will probably be made within the first twenty seconds. So in deciding how long you have and what you are going to do with that time, you first need to decide who your audience is, what type of video you’re making, and where it will be situated. These three things will have a great influence on what you need to do with the opening of your video.
Who is your audience?
Here I wrote about considering who your customers are and how to target your story and production towards them. But now I want you to think about how they use the web and where they will encounter your video. If your video is intended to confirm people who are already searching for the product you are selling and persuade them to make contact, then you have probably placed it on your web page, and on any business listings sites which you use. In style it is more than likely what you may think of as a short infomercial. If your video is intended to attract new customers to a service or product that they didn’t know about or didn’t consider of any value to them, then your video is more likely to be in the classic TV commercial mould and to be placed on many social media sites as well as your own page. So this is not the question about how affluent your customers are or what is there average age. Those are questions for the planning and writing stage. This is all about the purpose of the video and how customers will interact with it. Both need an attractive opening but there are differences.
Mrs Babbage has decided that she would like a conservatory on her home. She searches for local companies and begins to compare them. The site for Ida Lovelace & Sons has a video on the landing page. The video starts with an attractive middle aged couple sitting in a beautiful & impressive conservatory. She is reading, he’s doing the crossword. She looks up at him, he looks over and reaches out his hand. They hold hands for a moment and then laugh. Cut to a shot of the exterior of the conservatory surrounded by sumptuous gardens. Voiceovers from the woman and man start to tell us about how easy Ida Lovelace & Sons made everything. The video continues beyond this, but this opening ten seconds plays to Mrs Babbage’s aspirations, reflecting her own desires back at her. This makes her watch the rest of the video where the real persuasion takes place.
In working with your film-maker, your business experience will be vital. You know why your customers buy your product. You’ve heard them tell you, maybe for years, what made their minds up. This is what your film-maker needs to know so that you can craft an enticing opening for your video.
This is a different beast altogether. Until a couple of years ago I would have avoided videos like this, but then things changed that made TV style commercials not only viable but vital. One of those things was the decision by Facebook to autoplay all native videos. That is, all videos uploaded direct to Facebook, not shared there from YouTube or Vimeo, play automatically. This works, as I discussed here, because they play silently until the viewer decides to click and activate the sound. But this autoplay decision has effectively introduced traditional commercials into the social media arena giving us the option to attract new customers with video rather than just confirming those already seeking your product.
To take advantage of this we must consider four things.
- What are our customers looking for?
- What are our customers afraid of?
- What do our customers aspire to?
- How do we show them this in 7 seconds?
Why seven seconds? This is just my best guess based upon my personal experience of browsing Facebook, and how long each autoplay video has to grab my attention before I move on. It may be less than that. The trouble is I can’t answer these questions for you here. You will have to work with your film-maker to answer them for yourself, but…
…I will endeavour to provide a quick example.
I’m scrolling down and I pass over an image of a happy family driving along. As the video box approaches the top of the page I see a close-up of a tyre blowing, and then a wide shot of a car accident. I pause in my scrolling. White text appears on a black background. It reads “Free tyre checks this winter at Berners Garage.” The video continues, now with a man taking his car to the garage and it may turn into a nice short infomercial from this point. This grabbed my attention and I got the message. If I clicked on the video I would get the whole effect with the sound and it would have even more impact. I would watch the rest of the ad which shows me the good quality, honest, friendly service I would get at the garage and ends with the same family on the same journey but travelling safely to have Christmas dinner with the grandparents. Perhaps I’d even think to myself “better safe than sorry” and phone for an appointment…
Once again I, as a viewer, am being pandered to but on this occasion it is all about grabbing my attention. What am I afraid of? I’m afraid of any harm coming to my family. What am I looking for? I’m looking for a safe happy time. What do I aspire to? I aspire to be a good dad and this video has just shown me in no uncertain terms that if I don’t get my tyres checked, what potential consequences might be. For these reasons, the video jumped out of the page at me. Among all the inspirational quotes, cat baby and drunken nights out photos, memes, music videos and other clamours for attention, this video pinpointed my weakness and grabbed hold of me. The interesting thing is how Facebook knew I should be shown this advert, and in a couple of weeks I will write about using Facebook targeted advertising for your video marketing, but first there’s something else I think we should cover.
Before I go you may have noticed that I often mention your film-maker. By this I mean the professional who will be making your video for you. This may be a team working as part of a large production house or it may be a single artisan film-maker making bespoke short films for each client. Either way I think it’s time we considered the big question. How much will your video cost you?