Look’em In The Eye

There was an interesting article published on the ScienceDaily website taken from an article written by Katherine Baildon based on a study done by Cornell University. What they found was cereal boxes with spokes-characters on the box are designed to make incidental eye contact with the shopper; and adult cereals are placed on the shelf at adult eye height, while children’s cereals are placed at children’s eye height.

A second study concluded that cereal boxes with spokes–characters that make eye contact, increase positive attitudes towards the cereal, making the product more likely to be purchased.

These studies have two important takeaways for online businesses that use video to promote their products or services. As we have stated for years, it is important for online videos to use brand spokespersons in their videos, and secondly, it is important that the online spokesperson makes eye contact with the audience.

I for one never understood the occasional television commercial that has the online character continuously looking off-camera, and now we have scientific evidence to prove the point that connecting to an audience requires eye contact.

The next step is to convince people that a brand spokesperson’s on camera performance is a critical element in creating online video that has impact, influence, and resonance with the targeted audience. If an online spokesperson comes across as incompetent, unsure of themselves, or just plain irrelevant, the result can be disastrous.

The Problem With Stock

The stock image and footage business is big business and many of the images and clips are excellent quality. Like most things in life, stock images are neither good nor bad, they have their place, and if used appropriately and with forethought, they can be a valuable resource. The problem arises when businesses use stock images and footage without understanding how to use them, when to use them, and what real affect they have on the viewer.

Stock Imagery Has Five Potential Downsides:

1. Stock images/footage can be used by a variety of companies selling a variety of products and services. Because there is few restrictions on how many people can use a particular image, the one you choose may also be used by a competitor to create confusion. In addition, a company with a poor reputation can opt to use the same images as you with the result that the association may reflect badly on your company.

2. Stock images/footage of generic smiling employees wearing headsets, or having a meeting pointing meaningfully at a computer screen are hackneyed and overused, and say nothing about who you are, what you do, or why anyone should care.

3. We are often asked to make a video using stock images because clients think it’s cheaper than paying for an actor. Individual stock images used in video should be limited to three to five seconds of onscreen time. If you’re creating a two-minute video, it translates to between twenty-four and forty images. High quality images can cost $40+ each and that translates into an image purchase of between $960 and $1600 before any production, voice-over, music, motion graphics, or special effects. Compared to what we charge for a professional actor, it’s very expensive.

4. Another problem with stock is finding the right images and finding enough of them that provide a similar look, theme, or style. A major objective of corporate video is to create an identity that is conveyed by the colors, style, and imagery you choose to use. By opting for stock you limit your ability to establish a unified, memorable identity, a brand.

5. Finally, a reliance on stock without the most critical element of video, leads to presentations without impact; that element is voice-over. On screen images, footage, and animations have little impact unless they are accompanied by voice-over. Even the addition of stock music won’t makeup for the lack of voice accompaniment. The use of sound design that incorporates voice, custom music, and sound effects is the difference-maker when it comes to high-impact presentations.