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All about talking heads

December 22nd, 2005

In the last issue, I put a lot of focus
on an important business principle
– "make or buy" – as it applies to
to helping you decide on the best way
to get involved in video marketing on
the Internet.

Today, let’s focus on some ‘down and
dirty’ practical stuff.

Talking heads… No, not the rock group
from the 1980s, but the common video
presentation format.

A "talking head" is a fixed shot from
the shoulders up of a single person

You see a lot of this on the Internet today
and we’re going to see a lot more of it in
the months and years to come.

But is this the best use of Internet video?

Yes and no. 

One thing to keep in mind is that when
a medium is new *anything* you do will
work as an attention getter. And since
attention is the first step in the sales
chain, more attention usually generates
more sales.

But attention-getting devices wear out
if they’re not used intelligently.

— A lesson from the jungle

If you bring a digital camera into
the Amazon jungle and demonstrate it to
rain forest dwellers who’ve never been out
of the woods, they’ll be amazed by *any*
picture you show them.

And in the early days of the movies, people
used to gladly pay good money just to watch
short one-minute reels on completely random
topics. The *newness* of it all is what
made it entertaining, not the content. 

But as time goes by, everybody – even
people who live in remote rain forests
– becomes more sophisticated and demand
worthwhile content, not just pictures
flashing on a screen.

At the moment, seeing a clear, full-motion video
talking head on a web site is fascinating –
especially when it comes from a source you
don’t expect – but I would not place a long
term bet on this kind of video content working
on the Internet indefinitely. 

Does that mean that you should never use
talking heads on a web page? 

No, not at all.

But you do need to use them strategically.

When’s a good time to use a talking head?

To introduce new visitors to the content of
a web page – briefly.

Then, if you’ve got relevent video to show – of
your product in action, of charts and diagrams,
of screenshots – show it.

Otherwise, use old fashioned text or, if it
makes sense for what you need to accomplish,

Remember: Interner users are sitting at a workstation
with a keyboard and mouse at their fingertips and they’re
used to taking frequent and rapid action.

They’re not lounging around on the sofa
passively watching pictures on a tube. Actually,
even TV viewers aren’t that passive any more thanks
to remote control and Tivo.

My colleague, Jakob Nielsen, who is considered one
of the world’s leading authorities on how people
actually use the web, has given a lot of thought
to how to use video on the web.

He’s written an article that’s worth paying close
attention to.

Make sure you click on the link within the article
called "gaze replay recording." It’s a great demonstration
of what happens to people’s attention when someone
is droning away at them on a computer screen.

You can read Nielsen’s article here.   




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