The Science Behind the Power of Video
Any perceptive person can’t help but notice that video is taking over the world. It’s everywhere – it fills up our social media feeds, it’s splattered all over every website, it’s even taking the place of text in how we communicate! In fact, this year we’re expecting 74% of all internet traffic to be video. That’s a huge shift.
Its popularity might seem self-evident to many, but there is some very solid scientific reasoning as to why video has become so popular.
We’re a visual species
In terms of how we experience the world around us, 83% of that external information comes to us through the sense of sight. A further 11% is through the sense of sound. Combined that’s 94% of our entire understanding of the physical world we inhabit. This gives us a massive clue as to why video can be so powerful. It’s completely synchronised with our existing sensory nature, in a way that text never could.
This synchronicity is so powerful that we are 12 times more likely to watch a video on a specific topic than we are to read a portion of text on the same topic. We are attracted to movement – simply because it’s how we’ve evolved and the detection of movement is a skill that humans have always had to use to survive. But it’s also because we can process visual information a lot quicker than we can through text.
Not convinced? Consider for a moment the Japanese Flag. Picture it in your head. Now imagine that you don’t have the vocabulary to use the words rectangle or circle, and try and explain it. Maybe imagine that you don’t know the words ‘red’ or ‘white’ either. You immediately see how difficult it is, and how simply we process that same information when it’s displayed visually. In fact, our brain is so hard-wired that we process visual information 60,000 times faster than text.
We’re a lazy species
Debatable whether it’s laziness or efficiency, but we’re also designed and programmed to avoid unnecessary cognitive strain. Because video is so easily understood, so easily experienced, processed, and stored for later use, our brains consider it more enjoyable and favourable to other mediums.
If you’re one of the 65% of us that are determined as visual learners then you’ll understand this first hand. If you consider that a 60-second video contains the equivalent of 1.8million words, then it’s perhaps hard to understand how non-visual learners get around to learning anything at all.
We’re an emotional species
Aside from being both visual and lazy, we always have the condition of being extremely emotional. We can certainly have those emotions triggered by rousing speeches, heartfelt sonnets, and tear-jerking melodies, but we’re far more likely to have our emotions triggered by experiencing something visually.
During films or tv shows it’s not uncommon for viewers to directly mimic the facial expressions of those people they’re watching. Your favourite character in a film starts smiling and you might do the same. They get angry and frown, your face will as well. It’s the brain’s mirror neurons that are to blame, and they do more than just re-shape our face. In some cases, our brain will try and assist in the formation of empathy by sending you emotional responses as if you were experiencing the same situation as that which you are watching.
These kinds of responses that allow us to form empathy go on to release a reward chemical called oxytocin – the attachment drug. It’s the drug that allows you to feel emotional connections to people, and if video can help this chemical be released then marketers will claim it helps users form an emotional attachment to brands or products. Campaigns that are made up of mostly emotional visual content have been shown to convert twice as well as those that stick with purely rational content. Furthermore, because of the ease with which video is processed, we’re able to store it in our memory far more efficiently.
So there you have it – the science behind video. A magical combination of being visual, emotional and time-efficient creatures.