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ATTENTION SPAN

Rep: 19
David Brooks April 13, 2011, 3:30 p.m. permalink

I understand that not every video story will appeal to every viewer that comes to my newspaper's website. I'm certain that my viewing habits are no different than the average person. But when I look at the analytics, most people don't even make it half way through the video before moving on. The computer allows us to be as capricious as a toddler but when our viewing stamina can't take us beyond the middle of a minute and fifteen second story, that free, capricious spirit is no longer a friend but an anchor that pulls us away from content that could be informative or entertaining. I wonder if any of you have noticed this in your traffic? It could be just a message to me that I need a lot of improvement and that may be so but I think there's a larger issue hiding behind these attention span percentages.

Rep: 87
Michael Fagans April 13, 2011, 5:33 p.m. permalink

David:

A few quick thought responses.

Yes, early click
outs are a pattern, which is why I believe that Colin is absolutely
correct to urge people to front end their best footage.

Metrics
is as metrics does (to paraphrase a movie badly). I stopped using clicks
and watching percentage and focused instead on total minutes
downloaded/watched. Why? Because I felt that was where our gains were
honestly reflected. We went from 20,000 minutes to 50,000 in six months
as we worked on content, technique and storytelling. If we had focused
on clicks or plays nothing really changed.

All that being said,
the reality is that newspaper/news organization video now competes on an
international platform as well as going head to head with Hollywood,
Hulu and Netflix. The competition for eyeballs is up, although that
being said, the last report I saw indicated that there is an enormous
upside for web video.

When the average newspaper video experience
is shaky cam and bad audio, we train folks to click out. There are
notable exceptions, including newspapers and individuals who do
exceptional work and are pulling the field forward....but it is a new
skill set to learn and utilize.

Curious to hear what other people think.

Rep: 19
David Brooks April 14, 2011, 3:35 p.m. permalink

Hey Michael-

I agree with you to an extent but no matter what part of the analytics you pay attention to; minutes, views, attention span, engagement..., on our site, most viewers are not watching the entire video. If it were an issue of quality I think over time we would have seen a trend on certain videos or producers but for the most part, our video team is very skilled. Stories that we would tout as our best retained only modest traffic.

I think there's another issue at play and that is...,  we watch the videos the way we read the articles. There is no way to determine if people are reading an entire story but if I use myself as an example, I know often times, I don't . I read the headlines, the sub headline, then a few paragraphs, I feel informed and I'm done, I know, ...it's sad. I'm vulnerable right now. HA! But seriously, I think this is what some viewers are doing. Regardless of the production value, the story or editing,  we watch the video about halfway maybe further and we feel like we know enough and move on. I don't know for certain I'm just thinking out loud....

David

Rep: 87
Michael Fagans April 14, 2011, 4:03 p.m. permalink

David:

First off, you guys are doing solid video work, so please don't hear me critiquing that as a reason for click outs. It is a industry-wide pattern.

My larger point is that we are newspaper/news organizations are competing with so many other attention grabbing streams that we are going to be frustrated if we don't understand the larger 'picture.' I can click out of a show on Hulu if it is not holding my attention and I do. If the content/story does not resonate, people move on.

Perhaps the saving grace is that it is really hard to get analytics on how much people read of a story unless it goes on multiple pages and I bet you the click rate on that is super high. My point being is that I am sure most people read the way you do, there are just not ways to measure their lack of interest.

The bottom line is, we have to understand who and what we are competing against and with. That is why the minutes watched is more helpful for me. I can average it with plays as well as measure how many viewers are sticking with pieces to the end or staying on past half.

It also helps us think about what to shoot and what not to shoot.

Rep: 19
David Brooks April 14, 2011, 9:26 p.m. permalink

Don't worry I didn't take your first response as an indictment on my videos. I was just stating that I don't think quality is the reason some viewers are not making it to the end of the story. Under the "video engagement" analytic in Brightcove, our video provider, we've seen an interesting trend..., viewership actually spiking, or increasing after an initial drop off at 45 seconds into a video, in some instances people become immediately disinterested and click ahead along the timeline. We can see what part of the video they click off and then back into it, so I guess we can use that as a guide... actually it would be a fun experiment to edit to the spikes..., just a thought. Thanks for the conversation.

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