4 Reasons Why Online Video Is Compelling & Persuasive

Why is online video so compelling compared to text?

I’ve been in my video studio working on my new online video course (Designing For Engagement). It’s a lot of work to create my online video courses (through Udemy.com), but it’s also fun to work on them, and it’s exciting to have people taking and enjoying the courses.

It got me thinking again, about why online video is so compelling as a medium, and so while I was in the studio I made this short video “4 Reasons Why Online Video Is Persuasive”:

Here are the 4 reasons:
#1: The Fusiform Facial area makes us pay attention to faces
#2: Voice conveys rich information
#3: Emotions are contagious
#4: Movement grabs attention

What do you think? Do you find online video more engaging than reading text? Why do you think it is (or isn’t)?

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Posted in attention, persuasion, video Tagged with: , ,
17 comments on “4 Reasons Why Online Video Is Compelling & Persuasive
  1. Linda says:

    I usually don’t watch videos because I like peace and quiet. Sometimes I watch them long enough to get the gist of what they’re about and then stop them. Short is best!

  2. Nils Weinander says:

    I very rarely view videos on the web, for a number of simple reasons:

    * Viewing a video takes too long time, compared to reading a text. I can speed read a text, skimming, skipping paragraphs, in order to find out if I want to read it more closely. I can’t do that with a video.

    * I find it easier to concentrate on a text as reading is acting, while viewing a video or listening to audio is passive.

    * Most of the web (well, the parts that I come across) is in english, which is not my native language. I read fluently, but sometimes miss out words in spoken english, not the least as my hearing isn’t that acute.

    So, for me, text and images rule, I mostly ignore video and audio.

    • Lee Caleca says:

      I tend to agree with Nils with the exception of how-to videos. Reading allows for skimming to the meat of the offer. With video, I use the slide to move the video along more quickly but there’s a chance of missing something I can’t “see”.

    • Everyone is wired differently, but a good video with high quality audio that is compelling will captivate more people longer than still images and text. For someone to say video and audio is passive ONLY; has never seen a great movie that draws you in to care about what is going on. Even great commercials can do this. To show how a thing is built is often more interesting than reading about it. You cannot convey a business owners passion for their craft the same way as reading an “about me” page on a website. That’s just how I see it. I am also biased as I am a wedding cinematographer.

  3. Sveta says:

    Videos are of no use to millions of deaf and hard of hearing people if they are not captioned. Auto captions are not of acceptable quality and need to be cleaned up to include proper punctuation, speaker identificaitons, sound descriptions, etc.

  4. Sveta says:

    Please read more about the importance of captioning as universal access on my website – http://www.audio-accessibility.com.

  5. Sveta says:

    Susan – videos mean nothing to millions of deaf and hard of hearing people if they are not accessible via quality captions. Auto captions are not of acceptable quality – quality captions are as important (with proper punctuation, speaker identificaitons, sound descriptions, etc.) as quality speech. Would you please make all of your videos accessible via captions? Thanks!

  6. Frank says:

    Video is more risky than text.

    I don’t know what I’ll get when I click a video. Pre-roll ad? Rambling nonsense? Bandwidth drought wait.

    So I inevitably look at text.

    So for example instead of spending 5 minutes watching the above video I simply spent 5 seconds reading the bottom four points, then googled Fusiform Facial and spent another 20 seconds assessing its relevance.

    I rest my case.

    • Sveta says:

      Totally agree with you, Frank. That’s the reason why it’s required that videos have both captions and a HTML transcript below it – there are millions of deaf/hoh people who cannot hear audio and also there are many people who prefer to skim text than listen to audio all way (due to various reasons including but not limited to the bandwidth issue you mentioned).

  7. Rob Eppolito says:

    I wonder how many people who don’t like videos…. watched the video on this page. I’ll bet it’s close to 100%. This video has attracted feedback and comments. It seems to be working to me :) Check the stats on ComScore.com. video is a very effective way to convey any message, especially a marketing message.

  8. Rick says:

    It seemed like a good idea so I came here from UX Magazine, but I found myself almost immediately scrolling down to read comments while the video played.
    I couldn’t get over the sterile atmosphere and the echo in the audio so I left.

    • firefly says:

      That’s exactly what I did. I pressed play, lost interest immediately and then started reading the comments.

      I rarely watch video on the web. I actually get annoyed if I click a link and it’s a video without transcript. I immediately leave the site.

      I read first. If the text catches my interest I may possibly play the video as well just to see if I can get anything more out of the video. But no text, or text doesn’t inspire me then I don’t press that play button.

  9. Carl Gitchel says:

    Wow! Thanks so much for explaining the science behind what I have known instinctively for years—audio and video capture one’s attention (and convey more sensory input) than text alone can do.

    I am sorry there are blind/deaf people who can’t experience the utility of this. I understand there are those who simply prefer to read static text.

    However, the numbers are clear. Web material presented in an audio or video format (of decent quality of course,) gets a much higher response from the masses than does static text.

    I look forward to my first copy of your newsletter, Doctor!

  10. One of the best benefits of video is the ability to simplify complex/lengthy information into more “digestible” information as Ms. Weinschenk did in this video blog. A prime example I know of that is Derek Halpern from Social Triggers. On his blog he summarizes scientific research on human behavior and consumer psychology into short 4-6 minute videos. I find the take aways from his videos extremely valuable since I don’t have time to read scientific research.

    Thank you for all the great information Susan, your work is certainly appreciated!

  11. Mike O'Horo says:

    I agree with the posters who said that video is too slow. I can read a paragraph in a fraction of the time it takes any presenter to speak it.

  12. John says:

    Sight, Sound & Motion-mirror the fundamental elements of Human Existence.

  13. Interestingly, You Tube, Facebook Video and all the other video platforms still appear to have millions of hours watched, daily – and video content search will dominate the web in the next couple O years!
    I could be wrong, but it still appears as if people like it!
    Thanks for the valuable insights – yes I am a video marketer.

14 Pings/Trackbacks for "4 Reasons Why Online Video Is Compelling & Persuasive"
  1. […] Dr. Weinschenk did a video on 4 Reasons Why Online Video is Compelling & Persuasive.  Always interested in what other experts have found with regard to Video and UX, I took the […]

  2. […] it makes sense, use audio and/or video instead of just relying on text. (See my blog post on why video is so […]

  3. […] If you want to find out more about Susan’s studies you can watch her presentation here. […]

  4. […]  Interesting Right? Check out Dr Susan’s presentation more in detail here. […]

  5. […] Research suggests that watching a video allows us to use deep-rooted evolutionary observation skills to gather far more information than we could from text alone. When we’re able to get information in a way that’s very natural to us, we feel comfortable. When we’re comfortable with how we get information, we like to keep on getting it that way. […]

  6. […] So what is it exactly that makes online videos so compelling and persuasive? Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D,  author of The Brain Lady Blog, writes about psychology, brain science and understanding how people think and behave. A consultant to brands like Amazon, Disney and Walmart, she answers the question by listing her four core reasons that explain why people are so drawn to videos and why they’re such a powerful f…. […]

  7. […] is a great video you can watch that details why the medium is so powerful. Here are the […]

  8. […] #1: The Fusiform Facial area makes us pay attention to faces – this is an actual brain function that hard-wires us to use the human face as a gathering point for information and believability. […]

  9. […] Humans are hardwired to like video thanks to its use of moving images, emotional information and ability to convey tone of voice (Weinschenk Institute). […]

  10. VIDEO | says:

    […] Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research has discovered that watching one minute of video has the same impact as reading almost 2 million words. In some parts of America, over half of all internet use is video. It’s also more memorable. […]

  11. […] Weinschenk, Ph.D., affectionately known as “the Brain Lady,” writes and blogs about how to apply psychology and brain science research to understand how people think, work and […]

  12. […] Susan Weinshenk, Ph. D. and consultant to brands like Disney and Amazon, explains that video appeals to humans in four distinct and important ways: […]

  13. […] you want to get all science-y about it, behavioural psychologist, Susan Weinschenk, has a theory of why humans are drawn to video […]

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