online video content
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  neotint 

Online video content is an everyday part of the Internet; we are all used to seeing videos. Indeed, on average each of us watches around 75 minutes of online video every week. But is it any good for your website?

Because so much online video is consumed you might think that having video content on your website is essential. Indeed, if you don’t have video content within your website aren’t you looked upon as out-of-date? Without video you might give the impression your web content is rather old-fashioned.

There is huge demand for online video too, so it seems to make sense to meet that demand and produce loads of online video content for your website. In fact, many businesses are now turning their websites into video portals it seems.

However, not too fast…! It may well be that there is a danger in online video content. And sure enough recent research suggests we may need to think again about online video.

On any web page there are various visual stimuli – headings, images, advertisements and links, for instance. When we are presented with several different visual stimuli we can cope with up to four different things at a time. So we see the headline, the advert, the picture and the hyperlink all in one go.

But, the research has found, that when we have an audiovisual stimulus – like an online video – we can only focus on that.

In other words if you have an online video on your web page people will not see the other things which are competing for their attention. The video grabs all their attentional resources and your adverts and links, for instance, may as well not be there.

Online video content should be for specific reasons only

The research suggests that video should be used for a highly specific purpose – focusing the attention of your web visitor. It means that you need the video to include the links you want people to visit, rather than have them on the surrounding page, for instance. Or you need the video to go to a specific page once it has finished playing, rather than assume the viewer will see the logical next place to go.

If you want people to really focus their attention on your message, then it turns out that online video content is excellent. But if you are using video simply as an enhancement to a web page, it transpires it means people will ignore all the other content and so you are limiting the impact of your pages.

Ultimately it means that deciding whether or not to use web video content is not as straightforward as we once believed.

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