For all the YouTube addicts out there (myself included), there’s an interesting blog post on NYTimes.com this week about online-video attention spans. According to Saul Hansell, who attended a roundtable this week dedicated to online video, people are watching longer and longer video clips on their computers.
YouTube really kicked things off a couple of years ago. Hulu, which just celebrated its first birthday, served 142 million steams, including full television episodes and shorter clips, to 6.3 million users in September. And on Blip.tv, which aggregates semiprofessional and professional videos, the average length of a program has increased from three to five minutes a year ago to five to seven minutes now, said Mike Hudack, its chief executive.
The possibilities for online video continue to ramp up. I was introduced this week to Gaudi, Google’s experimental audio-indexing site. Gaudi allows users to search for specific phrases in video and presents search results listing the number of times that those words appear in the video. When you click on a video, you’ll even see time stamps noting where, exactly, the word is uttered. Wow. So far, this works with only election-related coverage, but it’s sure to branch out once Google works out any kinks.
So, what does all of this mean to the CIO? For starters, it means taking a fresh look at your company’s online strategy with regard to video. Conventional wisdom has dictated keeping video clips short and snappy so visitors don’t lose interest. However, as Hansell points out, online visitors have the option of perusing sites much like they would a newspaper, skipping items that don’t interest them and poring over those that do.
Is there a product your company would like to promote that is better conveyed through visuals and audio than .jpgs and text? Don’t be afraid to dedicate a good five or 10 minutes to that puppy (provided it’s well-produced), showing off its attributes, showing customers talking about it and demonstrating its uses in action. Yes, you might lose some eyeballs after the first minute or two, but the people who stick around for the full presentation? Probably more likely to be your real customers, anyway.
And when you script these videos, make sure you’re including the keyword phrases for which customers might be searching — it’s good practice and will mean you’re ahead of the game when this audio-indexing thing really takes off.