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8 Seconds Away

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Those of us in the video content creation business have known for some time that short sharp videos placed strategically on ecommerce websites can really help to shift product. We always believed that it was so, but now more and more people are validating the fact and talking about the mythical 8 seconds.

Why 8 seconds?  Well that’s the very short time most experts now say you’ve got to grab your viewer’s attention. After 8 seconds if you haven’t gained their interest, it’s likely they’ll have moved on.

The reasoning is that as most people are bombarded with ads throughout their waking hours – from billboards and tube cards on the commute to sponsored content on social media to pre-rolls on YouTube – people in a hurry (and that’s most of us, most of the time) have gotten used to skipping or deleting anything they deem boring without a second thought.

So the first 8 seconds of a video are important.  You must put a lot of effort and thought – a Big Idea if you like – into the opening. Whilst accepting that premise leads you to other questions:

Like:  What will it do to my brand? How do I know what’s working and what’s not? And most importantly, who’s going to help me tell these stories?

So I think everyone accepts video is now an accepted part of the ecommerce landscape. But just sticking on video after video on product pages isn’t enough.

In a recent article on, Tom Moore the founder of Slidely also said: ‘the way users breeze through social feeds, old content quickly becomes old news. It no longer makes sense for brands to spend thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertisements. Instead, brands really need to be consistently publishing content to gain the kind of momentum and ongoing engagement that leads to brand awareness. Not every post has to be a Clio winner – it just needs to be professional, engaging, and highlight your brand.’

Of course, this goes against what most Ad Agencies will tell you.  With them, not only must it be a Big Idea, it will generally be an Expensive Big Idea.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

The key is to make lots of content and spend budget wisely where you need to – and save it where you don’t.

For instance, I have a client who shoots all of their videos on an iPhone – but that is countered by the fact that they spent money in the first place developing some professional motion graphics elements to be used as a ‘Top & Tail’ for their videos.  Having a professional-looking opening sequence that highlights what the video is about addresses the ‘8 second’ issue at a stroke and sets up the viewers’ expectations for the rest of it.

So I think everyone accepts video is now an accepted part of the ecommerce landscape.  But just sticking on video after video on product pages isn’t enough.

First, the video needs to be targeted to the audience – to their desires and expectations as well as their aspirations. Ideally it should also make a connection with the viewer and most important – it should never waste their time!

Second, there needs to be something for the viewer to think about – perhaps an aspect of the product or service they haven’t been exposed to before.

And last it needs to deliver what it promises in those vital 8 seconds at the front.  Fail to do this and your audience could be lost – maybe forever.

Whether it’s a how-to, a product demo or just a positioning piece, videos must always be memorable – and that’s where the craft of the video content maker comes in. Ideally your video must connect with your audience on an emotional level to give them something that they hadn’t felt before.  It could be an involving storyline, a witty strapline or just another view of life.  But if it captivates, and engages the viewer, you’re getting there.

Finally, the conventional wisdom of yesteryear was very much of the ‘eggs in one basket’ school of thought.  Massively expensive videos and TV ads were crafted to within an inch of their lives, racking up equally massive budgets along the way. There were some notable successes – and of course, many failures but in the main these were ads made for a linear form of viewing that just doesn’t exist for Generations X Y and Z. Today, if it bores them, they’ll skip it.

And current technology has drastically reduced the price and the turnaround times of the production of many genres of video.

But that doesn’t mean everything is cheap. What it does mean is that for any given budget, a far greater range of videos can now be made – all targeted exactly at certain groups or sectors of your audience. And hopefully all hitting those emotional touchpoints that will turn into conversions.

Video is now cost-effective enough to be a real consumable.  If one campaign doesn’t get traction quickly, throw it away and start again.  For little more than an Ad Agency’s monthly retainer, there are plenty of films to be made!

Connect with your viewer, give them something to think about – challenge them even – and you’ll have mastered the mythical 8 seconds!

Ian Sandall Is A Video Producer/Director Based In Manchester. Www.Spl-Communications.Co.Uk


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