January 12, 2017

Video is now deemed essential for any media organization. But do consumers really like it as much as, say, advertisers?

A new report suggests not.

For sure, journalism had a huge moment in 2016.

In a few short months, Facebook launched a live video offering (and began paying publishers to use it), Snapchat expanded its advertising options, and several news organizations undertook ambitious forays into virtual reality.

The video goldrush became so intense that, in April, Gawker declared the dawn of the “post-writing web.” As ad-blocking spread, media organizations hailed video ads as a possible remedy for the digital advertising slump.

That’s all well and good. But the report from Parse.ly suggests it isn’t as popular with viewers as it is with advertisers.

The news analytics company on Thursday published its 2016 Authority Report, which includes an analysis of various types of content posted by its network of 700 newsrooms. One of the report’s biggest surprises: audiences spent less time engaging with online video, on average, then they did for short, medium and lengthy text posts.

Readers spent nearly two times more time looking at longform content (text posts with more than 1,000 words) than they did the average post. Online video, by comparison, was viewed three-tenths less than the average post. Slideshows, meanwhile, were viewed slightly more (three tenths) than the average post.

Compared to other post formats, video was much less popular, according to the report:

Specifically, when comparing across all four formats, video posts have 30 percent less engaged time than a normal post; we would have expected video posts to have higher engaged time.

The findings of the Parse.ly report mirror an earlier report from the Reuters Institute, which noted that online video wasn’t growing as fast as industry leaders seemed to expect. Among other things, the report noted pre-roll advertising was disappointing viewers, and that viewers tended to prefer quicker content.

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Benjamin Mullin was formerly the managing editor of Poynter.org. He also previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow,…
Benjamin Mullin

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