Advertisers, video creators, and digital marketers are facing a serious problem when it comes to Web users’ attention spans. There aren’t too many black and white statistics involving attention spans, but according to a University of Hamburg study, digital video viewers typically stick to watch for only 2.7 minutes.
Web audience’s shrinking concentration levels are the reason creators are more regularly using 10-second segments and lightning quick edits. It is a temporary fix that keeps audiences watching. But, as statistics suggest, attention spans will only continue to dwindle.
So what is the solution to online filmmakers’ problem of keeping audiences engaged? Nintendo tried the Virtual Boy, but that just ended in migraines and pissed parents now out $200. Complete immersion seems to be what modern technology is aiming towards. Meeting that trend, many web creative agencies and digital filmmakers have begun incorporating interactive elements into internet television. This of course begs the question: Is interactive web television the next evolution of digital video?
Elan Lee is the CCO and founder of Fourth Wall Studio, an agency that has pioneered the concept of interactive digital video. Much of the studio’s work, including the Emmy-winning “Dirty Work,” have incorporated interactive elements like emails, phone calls and texts all occurring in real time as the show unfolds.
“Interactive Digital Videos are PART of the future of entertainment,” Lee said about interactive web television as the next step in digital video. Lee added: “The important thing to pay attention to is that audiences of the Internet age demand more of their media. They want stories that acknowledge the fact that they are wired, social and empowered.”
Interactive web television is the intersection of traditional entertainment as a modern tech-savvy audience views it. People are always going to want a form of entertainment that scales with the technological advances around them. 3D film only recently became widely recognized as more than niche due to the fact that technology no longer rendered it too expensive to produce. Although 3D film is openly embraced in movies, it is still far from the standard.
The same could be said for the future of interactive web shows. Interactive elements in web television are only a way to help supplement the actual content within the videos. They are a way to keep audiences focused and engaged.
Creative agency Whirled has experimented with interactive YouTube videos in the past. But as Whirled creative director Scott Chan explained, creators should not be as obsessed with keeping attention spans. “When you worry about attention spans or if this is too long, I think that if you make something really great those things tend to go away, and when you focus on those things it takes away from potentially making something great,” Chan explained.
The bottom line for creators seems to be about creating engaging content. As 3D films and Virtual Boys have proven, there is no substitution for something that is truly compelling. Once you have that, everything else is just icing on the cake.