Why The Key To Video In 2016 Is Reading, Not Watching.

on Native Video, Headlines

If I told you that on an average day, you read more than a quarter of the 460,000-word novel “War and Peace”, would you believe me?

The average American, it turns out, consumes 100,000 words of information in a single day.

The proliferation of smartphones and tablets has transformed the way we read. Think about it: every time you look down at a screen, you’re reading. The latest text about tonight’s dinner plans? Reading. Email? Reading. Social media? Reading. This article? Definitely reading.

So what does any of this have to do with video? Way more than you’d think.

Words, when paired with a robust media format like video, are a very powerful tool for anyone looking to capture attention online.

For the first time (ever?), videos can deliver meaning for even the people that don’t click play, or in the case of silent autoplay videos, without turning on their sound. Paired well with a headline and text, a video can deliver meaning even to people who don’t watch the video.

Marketers have been spending generously on online video ads for years as it’s the closest thing to TV advertising and an effective way to capture broad attention. Needless to say, the digital video ad market is huge. Online video ad revenue will reach $5 billion in 2016, according to Business Insider Intelligence while TV ad revenue will decline by 3% in the same time.

Yet the way we consume content is changing — and video is changing because of it.

These days, everything needs a line of text; a caption; an annotation; some quick-witted copy to provide context.

Take this Instagram post. Like just about everything posted by the wildly popular @fuckjerry and @thefatjewish, it’s the commentary in the headline that helps these Instagrammers reach comedic gold.

Headlines are the one true sentence to accompany online content

What’s a book without a cover? An email without a subject line? A newspaper photo without a headline?

The same is true for video. In fact, Facebook found that the first 5 to 10 seconds of their native video ads are what drive the majority of the increase in brand awareness, purchase intent and ad recall. And according to a recent Sharethrough survey, 70% of Millennials say they read headlines while watching videos in feeds.

So people are reading, even when the main content is a video, and the most important time period is the first few seconds.

Headlines provide context for video, delivering meaning with just a few seconds of passive attention. This is an essential insight for the modern marketer.

Here are a few examples where a video just doesn’t work without the headline:

1. What If Luxury Watchmaker Breitling Promoted Its YouTube Aviator Series Without A Headline?

Breitling Video Ad With and Without A Headline

2. What If Nationwide Promoted Its Peyton Manning TV Spot With Its Jingle As The Headline?

Nationwide Video Ad With And Without A Headline

3. What If Cadillac Didn't Mention Its Recent Award While Promoting An Episode Of Jay Leno's Garage?

Cadillac Video Ad With And Without A Headline

All this is to say, when it comes to native video ad optimization, the headline can’t be an afterthought. It’s a core part of the browsing experience, whether the videos are on Facebook, YouTube or news sites.