What do you need to do to make a video go viral? Cats? Jetpacks? Shark attacks? A blank screen with no images and no sound? Apparently it’s any and all of these. For those that want to push their view count over six figures, all that’s required is any old video and some cash.
The Blank Video Project was created by advertising and branding agency Solve to illustrate the limitations of view counts in really measuring the amount of attention people are paying to your video. The agency paid to have its video run as pre-roll advertising — clips you see at the start of other videos with the ‘Skip’ button. If people didn’t skip after 30 seconds, the agency was charged, and the video racked up an official view. The view count currently stands at over 100,000, 22,000 of which let the video run through its full four-minute duration, arguably because viewers clicked to another tab and forgot about it due to a lack of sound.
In an attention economy, marketers are seeking more sophisticated methods than click-throughs and view numbers to measure whether their messages are really being heard. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has created the standard for ‘viewability’, measuring the instances of an ad being at least 50% in view for at least two seconds. But there are simpler, more creative ways to find an engaged audience.
You can always scare off people who aren’t really listening. When prolific Instagram user A$AP Rocky started publishing blank white pictures to his account, 100,000 followers were irritated enough to unfollow him within ten hours. But those who stayed were rewarded. Over the course of a few days, the tiled images made up a scrollable collage of original artwork. It’s about flipping the script of the attention economy — instead of shouting louder to get through to anyone, say more to fewer people.
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Written by Susie Hogarth, senior behavioural analyst at Canvas8