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Watched any good web lately?

by on 10 Feb, 2011

More and more websites, blogs and networks are hosting their own video content (as opposed to pasting up YouTube links).

You can see the appeal. It looks attractive, it proves that you’re up-to-date and “on-trend”, and is a very useful tool for certain applications. For example, to see a product review or demonstration, or enjoy a virtual tour through a venue or destination.

However.

The assumption with video is that a) the surfer/visitor has the time to kick-back and watch some content, and b) they are interested enough to do so.

And I see this as being a potentially critical issue.  The current status quo is that we are enjoying better-designed and easier-to navigate websites, while we use a human brain that seems to prefer icons to text. We are also learning to filter and digest an increasing diet of short-form data – tweets, texts, IM’s, et al.

The problem with video is that it is just not scannable.  You can’t flick straight through to the headlines, or the juiciest bits.

Of course this is also the argument FOR more video. It “engages” the viewer, your digital guru will say, so that your audience has to stay in place, on your digital platform.

Except that our boredom threshold is now measured in nanoseconds, so unless we can somehow perceive ( instantly) that our investment in time will have a pay-off, then I think we will be more and more inclined to click away, and drift off to see what else there is to do/see/view.

So that is now the challenge for the herds of nerds and groups of geeks. They need to find a way of making video content as easy to surf, scan and qualify as text links, headlines, and bullet points currently are.  It could be that we are actually stretching the elasticity between visual media and the text medium to breaking point. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that the increase in video content will disrupt our web usage, and perhaps set new patterns of online and offline behaviour.

Meantime, of course, our connections are getting slower because of all those clips blocking our broadband pipeline. At any given time on the planet, apparently, nearly 15% of our internet usage is gobbled up (or should that be googled up ) by YouTube, so there is already a growing precedent for this problem…

So what do you think? Is it a question of “watch this space”, or just “don’t watch this space” ??

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3 Comments
  1. Couldn’t agree more. My heart sinks when I’m asked to watch a video online, even when it’s something useful such as instructions on how to do something arcane or a TED video. I can read something much more quickly and much prefer to do so, to pick out the bits that interest me or which I need at that point.

    The only exception might be genuinely creative content – say the current VW Darth Vader ad, or something like http://www.mofilm.com/std/0dbfa9 which tells a story that carries you along. This is what I would call “compelling” video content. Sadly, I work in the world of software, and it’s difficult to find it among the various vendors 😉

    • Hi Steve,

      Glad to see we think alike. I love the TED videos, but tend to “save” them up for lunchtime/downtime. I think the same would apply to the creative stuff you mention. Even then I sometimes still press FastForward…

      Problem is of course, it’s the B2B organsiations who are starting to embrace video, just as much as the consumer-facing sites. Let’s see how they get on!

    • Steve,
      Sorry to refer to B2B in the third person, when you clearly operate in the heart of this sector! Great link by the way, thanks…

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