Do Most People Get to the End of A Video?

In the spirit of this blog topic, the answer to the title question is — no.

Over the weekend, my co-founder Josh sent me this article in Slate by Farhad Manjoo. It’s an entertaining read for sure, but here’s the nugget:  simple Web page analysis tells you that only about 25% of online readers ever make it past the first 1600th pixel (a little past the ‘fold’ on a typical computer screen), and an embarrassingly low percentage ever make it to the end of an article.

This story reminded me of the video viewing analysis we’ve studied for the last several years. While there’s little debate that an engaging video tends to maintain viewer attention longer than articles or images, aggregate video data tells a similar story about how the vast majority of people never reach the end.

Here are a few fun graphs that demonstrate the point (and a few other points as well). The data comes from analyzing tens of thousands of views of more than 200 videos comprising a diverse set of lengths and topics, though nearly all infotainment oriented. Note: we’ve only shown a subset of the data (20% increments of the video viewing time) largely because it does a fine job of demonstrating the slope of the line – the more important point here.

An engaging video that’s mis-marketed (i.e. not presented to the right audience with the right title, supporting image, etc.) is shown below. Note the drop-off in the beginning, but the steady attention throughout until the last 10% or so.

Below is an engaging and well-marketed video presented to the right audience. Note the small drop off in the beginning and the fairly steady attention span throughout until the very end of the video, where there are still a tiny percent of folks watching:

A video that is neither engaging nor terribly well-marketed is shown here. The steady downslope speaks for itself!

To be sure, there are ways to influence this outcome by understanding your distribution points, audience, pacing, tempo, story arc, etc. And there’s always the time tested ‘reveal’ you can tease and deliver. But suffice to say, for video marketers, an end-frame ‘call to action’ on your video probably isn’t nearly as useful as collecting feedback or information early-on in the video. You are swimming upstream most of the time.

When it comes to our choices in media, consumers have an embarrassment of riches and only seem to be getting wealthier. By contrast, our attention spans are unfortunately poor and unlikely to grow … unless perhaps Google finds a way to make that Glass thing of theirs become a second brain of sorts. You never know … .

Final nugget for journalism nerds: you’ll enjoy Manjoo’s final hurrah. He’s left a stray TK at the end of the article for the 1% of readers who make it to the bitter end.

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