Is a minute of video really worth 1.8 million words?

Is a minute of video really worth 1.8 million words?

Read time: 2 mins

Written by Rob Smith

Fred R Barnard’s famous saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” has become a marketing staple over the past century, but in an age where videos are almost as easy to create as photos, the opportunity to convey messages becomes that much greater.

If a video operates at 30 frames per second and is 60 seconds long, then a one-minute video can – by those terms – convey 1.8 million words. Research by Forrester has backed this up, with Dr James McQuivey predicting this as far back as 2008, but is it really possible for something so simple to be so powerful?

Firstly, it’s worth noting that these calculations are based on a marketing slogan; there is no proof that every picture conveys a thousand words – some will be worth far less, while some will undoubtedly sit at the opposite end of the spectrum.

In scientific terms is it not possible to quantify the depth and impact of messaging in one video or any other medium, as it will vary significantly based on the person viewing it and the messages that are being conveyed.

However, when visuals, audio and text overlays are all taken into account, the opportunity is far greater. Furthermore, it is possible to measure – to a degree – the impact of this activity using analysis.

Analytical approach

Tracking not only video views, but shares, likes and comments across social media, owned media and – where possible – other media outlets can form a clearer picture of how content is being received.

Further analysis of user trends and behaviour, including clicks on calls to action and subsequent online behaviour, can not only create a degree of clarity around how the video content is performing, but also what users want to see and are likely to engage with, thereby informing future approaches.

While one person could not possible say 1.8 million words in a minute, 18,000 people could definitely say 100 words in a minute, and this is where the beauty of video is most evident; moving images and sound have an emotional impact that is much more difficult to convey in pure text.

Removing the need to visualise scenarios and instead presenting facts in the forms of imagery, music and – most importantly – overriding key messages can help to influence decisions and behaviour and add additional weight to any PR and content strategy.

So, is a one-minute video really worth 1.8 million words? The answer is no – it can be worth much more