Five, four, three, two, gone

Everybody is familiar with Andy Warhol’s renowned “fifteen minutes of fame” concept. The idea being that, in the future according to 1968, everybody would experience a stint of celebrity for – you guessed it – fifteen minutes. Almost the time it would take to eat three hamburgers.

Unfortunately Andy got it wrong. Fifteen minutes is a very generous amount of time, as anybody who has had to wait for a bus will tell you. Today, fifteen seconds is much closer to the mark and, in the world of video marketing, even that may be too generous.

If there is one universal irritation that YouTube viewers share it’s the pre-roll advertisements. In most cases this little annoyance has a skip option that becomes available after five seconds, and then the viewer can happily continue with their intended viewing unless they find themselves hooked by whatever is being advertised.

The five second rule of video marketingHowever, the pre-roll clip is more than just another advertisement from a big brand – any company willing to invest in YouTube’s paid advertising can have their content featured there. That’s why on rare occasions viewers may be served pre-roll adverts that run for several minutes as opposed to the standard 20-60 seconds.

This is where “fifteen minutes of fame” becomes “five seconds of attention”. It’s a concept which stretches beyond the confines of pre-roll advertisements and to video content on a whole. While some may argue that fifteen or even thirty seconds is more accurate, it’s better to be safe than skipped.

Treating the first five seconds as the one chance to captivate an audience sounds more difficult than it may actually be. There are two core approaches to succeeding: an immediate hook or an immediate message.

A video should have a point of intrigue or value that makes the content worthwhile. Making this an immediate feature in the video will keep more people watching once the option to skip becomes available, carrying them to the video’s core message. Once a viewer is interested or engaged they’re less likely to click away. 

Conversely, consider simplifying the video’s message to express it all quickly. Regional newspapers, for example, often accompany articles with photographs that summarise the story concisely, epitomising the idea of a picture being worth 1,000 words. The beauty of video, which is fundamentally a moving picture, is that five seconds is worth several thousand words.

Simplifying a video’s message could be achieved by communicating it like Geico did with its “unskippable” advert. The quirky extra footage which followed the message itself is optional, but in this instance it helped add to the advertisement’s appeal.

Those considering investing in paid advertising through YouTube may wish to not keep their advert running much longer than five seconds in any case. A study conducted by Adroit Digital in 2014 found that 46 percent of respondents don’t believe a pre-roll advert should last longer than 15 seconds.

With a range of content that is readily available for immediate consumption, the internet has made most people less patient and more self-entitled than ever before. A brand will now have to fight to show it is interesting and relevant enough to deserve that viewer’s time.

Of course, some rules are made to be broken. Just as Andy Warhol’s phrase is still famous almost half a decade later, if video content meets a specific audience need then they will stay beyond the five seconds and through until their need is satisfied. In that case, a more gradual approach is advised.

The challenge in this is identifying what suits your specific video content best. Is it a message that is best delivered quickly, with a memorable hook and a simple delivery? Or is it one that is better drip fed and drawn out? Knowing which approach to take is the first step to great video content. 

If you want help figuring out which approach to video marketing is best for you, feel free to get in touch here or by calling us on 01785 225416. We can promise you more than five seconds of attention!

Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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