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Kirk Loftin

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The Universal Appeal of Video

What makes video such a powerful medium? Why is it that even small toddlers natively understand videos? Why are “how-to” videos more popular than “how-to” books? Why are movies and television more popular than radio or novels? They’re easy for any human to comprehend, even children that can barely talk seem to just absorb Elmo videos (over and over and over and over again). Every single day, 1 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube.  


Part of the success of video as a medium is that videos are closest to our natural senses. The written word (which, to be fair, I am a huge fan of) relies on imagination, creating images from language. Photography is still and silent, unlike the constant movement and noise we perceive from life. Unlike the audio-only radio or audiobooks, video reflects our experiences by including visuals with audio simultaneously, just like most people experience the world. People retain 95% of the information they get from a video, compared to just 10% of the same information written in text.


Video gives us a visceral reaction, more so than a lot of other ways we consume media. YouTube has dominated the internet over the past 13 years, and now is more popular than television as a media consuming platform for teens, with the other generations catching up quickly. YouTube is actually considered the second most popular search engine behind Google (sorry Bing).


Companies need to include a robust video plan into their overall marketing strategy. Marketers have really learned to lean into the power of video as a sales tool over the last decade. People are significantly more likely to watch a video than they are to read a block of text. In a survey, executives admitted that they are 59% more likely to watch a video than read an article. Not to oversimplify, but the bottom line is this: people prefer video.


Video is also one of the most versatile forms of media. It can be watched muted, it can be watched on televisions and computer screens and phones. It can be listened to in the background. It can play anywhere in the world. It can be edited infinitely, videos can be short, they can be long. They can be technically impressive, or a simple instagram video shot on a phone. Understanding the power of video as a means of communication for ideas can really help people get their stories out and connect with others. Whether you’re a storyteller, or a marketer, or just a person with something to say, video remains one of the best ways to express yourself.

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