Overcoming Short Attention Spans with Web Video

Though Web video has become extremely popular, there are still many potential viewers who choose not to watch your videos. Not only do you have people hesitant to commit to watching a video online, those that do may have short attention spans. So, how do you convince viewers to watch your video and how to you keep them watching?

The reason many people hesitate to click a Web video’s play button is because they simply lack the time. Web surfers are accustomed to being able to quickly skim text to see if an article is relevant to them before committing to reading the article in depth. With Web videos, it’s harder to skim. If viewers perceive a large time commitment just to see if the video is worth watching, they may opt not to watch in the first place.

To overcome this initial objection, it’s important to make the following crystal clear:

  • What’s covered in the video
  • How the viewer will benefit from watching it
  • The Web video’s length

These three key points let viewers know if the video is relevant to them. Outlining the video’s content is a substitute for the skimming that many visitors need. By listing at least one benefit, you’re giving your viewers a compelling reason to click the play button. Telling viewers the time commitment lets them know just how long it will take to receive the information – and the benefits.

However, while these steps will help attract hesitant viewers, they won’t completely solve the problem of short attention spans. You can have viewers that want the information you’re delivering and completely willing to invest the time to watch the video, but if you don’t quickly capture their attention and then keep it, you could quickly lose them. People are simply too busy and pulled in too many different directions to put up with Web videos that do not engage them.

Remember when television shows and movies used to have long, creative title sequences? Think of the opening sequence of M*A*S*H as an example. The same opening song played each week while the same montage of helicopters and characters filled the screen. Each week, this opening sequence set the stage, introduced the characters, and got viewers in the mood for the story to come. Today, few television shows and movies have long opening sequences. Now, it’s not uncommon for the show to begin immediately with a brief, 10-second title sequence. Why the change? Attention spans.

What does this mean for your Web video? It means to forget the long introductions. It means get to the meat of the material quickly. It means you have to get the viewer’s attention in the first few seconds. So, forget the long fade up from black to a series of dissolving titles. Forget the “In this video we will tell you about. . .” monologue. If you can set expectations before viewers press the play button and then get your video off to an engaging start immediately after, you will have overcome the first two of many short attention span obstacles.