We’ve grown up with this idea that you pay more for better quality. This is true for anything from products to services to web video production. You want a high-quality video, you’ll need to pay for high-quality equipment and high-quality talent. The best cameras, the best lighting, the best editors and producers your money can buy.
And while this hasn’t been completely disproved, it’s safe to say that the statement is now less a rule of thumb and more a gentle guide.
Basically, more expensive = better isn’t always the case.
Just as minimalist works very well for art and graphics, low-key web videos may actually yield higher engagement. A lot of viral videos are, interestingly enough, videos that use little to virtually no effects whatsoever, very basic editing, and simple equipment.
Hallmark’s World’s Toughest Job was recorded using the participants’ own webcam. Android’s Friends Furever was literally just stock footage of animals, stitched together and set to Roger Miller’s Robin Hood and Lil’ John.
So, why does simplicity work?
INFORMAL = MORE AUTHENTIC
Video-to-viewer engagement is higher if the viewer finds the video relatable – whether online or on TV. Elaborate effects may impress, but at the end of the day, consumers will remember what made a personal impression on them. As far as web video trends go, an informal video – more often than not – comes off more authentic than one that is “too scripted” or “too polished.”
Some good examples of informal videos that just work would be Dove’s Legacy film; A Girl’s Beauty Confidence Starts With You, or Always’ #LikeAGirl. Both commercials simply featured raw interviews with real people, cut and stitched together to create a powerful message. There were no fancy gimmicks, no clever script, and no elaborate backdrops. Just people, a quiet room, and genuine human emotion.
PERFECTION = EXPENSIVE
This is especially true for product videos. People will unconsciously try to guess the price range of the product being shown based on the video and its elements.
For instance, iPhone commercials always look sleek, sharp-edged, and polished. Even if you didn’t know how huge Apple is as a company (which may be highly unlikely, but suspend disbelief for a sec), you can tell they can afford to put a huge chunk of cash into their web video production. Ergo, their products probably cost a little more.
Videos that aren’t over-the-top budget busting, but also aren’t we-paid-five-dollars-for-this-on-Fiverr might be the ticket to keeping customer curiosity.
Check out Dollar Shave Club’s first video – the one that now has over 20 million views. It’s low-key, simple, very minor editing, and set in a plain factory. No crazy 3D effects, no classy lighting, no clever camera angles. The script isn’t full of fifty dollar words and the main actor – DSC’s own founder – isn’t even acting. The overall video just comes off as basic, unpolished, and authentic.
And yet it worked. As of 2016, Unilever acquired them for a $1 billion deal. The simplicity fit the company’s name – Dollar Shave Club – just fine. For a dollar a month, they send razors to your door. Would the video have had the same effect if they showed top-notch razor blades as a way to convince viewers to choose their product?
This isn’t to say that you have to completely disregard quality web video production, adlib the script, and turn down a perfectly decent video camera in favor of your smartphone. If nothing else, these trends are a good reminder that despite this digital age, a video’s engagement is dependent on human factor, not technology.