News organizations have been producing loads of video content to fill social media feeds and attract higher ad rates, but a new report from the social analytics firm Parse.ly finds that users engage with video much less than other content types.
Parse.ly examined the performance of four types of posts within its network of 700 sites: long-form, short-form, video, and slideshows. Video posts received 30 percent less engaged time than the average post, the study found. (Parse.ly defines “engaged time” as being “actively engaged with content — when [users] not only have a page open, but they have also recently interacted with it [via scrolling or clicking, for example]. Visitors are also considered actively engaged if they are watching a video.”)
The report suggested a few reasons for why engagement with videos are lower:
— Auto-play: Visitors expecting to read a text article might click the back button when a video starts playing on the page (possibly creating disruptive noise in a quiet environment).
— Slow load: Video players can take a long time to load, especially on mobile devices. This delay may cause visitors to bounce.
— Incomplete integration: It is possible that sites in this study have an incomplete Parse.ly integration, making their engaged time less accurate for posts with video. While we don’t think this is the case, we always encourage clients to ensure their integration is complete when testing a variety of formats.
When it comes to video, other studies have also suggested that the supply of news video outpaces consumer demand.
Here’s what my colleague Laura Hazard Owen wrote last June about a report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University:
Analyzing Chartbeat data from 30 news outlets across the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Italy (17 of the outlets were American, nine were broadcasters), the researchers found that the sites’ users spent “only around 2.5 percent of average visit time” on pages that included videos, and “97.5 percent of time is still spent with text.” That 2.5 percent of time spent was even lower than the total share of pages that have videos (6.5 percent).
We keep hearing about the boom in online video, so what’s going on? To be clear, the report’s authors distinguish between “news video” hosted on publishers’ own sites and video on social networks or centered around “softer news and lifestyle content (or premium drama and sports on demand)” rather than hard news. They researchers urge caution in conflating the fast growth of online video in general with the growth of, specifically, hard news video.
“So far, the growth around online video news seems to be largely driven by technology, platforms, and publishers rather than by strong consumer demand,” Antonis Kalogeropoulos, one of the report’s authors, said in a statement.
Long-form articles, meanwhile, which the report defines as stories that are more than 1,000 words, have an average engaged time of 1.8 times higher than normal.
“Long-form content drives engagement and appears to be a good source of growth. It attracts new readers to online media sites via Google and keeps them engaged nearly twice as long as normal articles,” Parse.ly said.
The full report is available here. You’ll need to enter an email address to read it.