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People Find How-To Videos Boring Answered

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According to TubeMogul, the audience drop-off rate for how-to videos is faster than general videos.

People Find "How-To" Videos Boring

Bad news for the many venture-backed "how-to" video startups such as eHow and Howcast,: People find their genre less engaging than the average Web video.

Keeping tabs on some 23 million video streams, Web video services firm TubeMogul says that how-to videos lose 15.21% more viewers after 10 seconds and 16.81% more viewers after 20 seconds than the average video.

When we started Instructables, one of the key features was our step-by-step format. As a human, you really can only do one thing at once, and multi-tasking is just quickly switching between tasks. So, we figured any complex process could be broken down into a series of steps that followed what its creator did.

Video is perfect for showing techniques or motion that are difficult to describe in text and pictures. However, when video is used to show things better seen as text and still images, it gets boring. I've always felt that video plays a role within a full step-by-step set of instructions, but can never eclipse them.

So, the take-home from the graph should be clear to future Instructables authors: keep your videos short and to the point if you want anyone to watch them. Save the rest for text and images, and the whole Instructable will be greater than the sum of its parts.

50 Replies

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Plasmana (author)2009-01-14

You mean people are bored of kipkay's videos too??? This is very surprising, I really enjoy kipkay's videos...

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fungus amungus (author)Plasmana2009-01-14

Kipkay's videos are typically one minute long. If you're going to make a video, try and keep it under one minute in general. You'd be surprised how much fluff and slow footage can be cut out of a 5 minute video. As you can see by the chart, half your audience is likely to be gone after a minute.

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Plasmana (author)fungus amungus2009-01-15

I see, you just need to cut out 'boring' bits to make a video interesting...

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fungus amungus (author)Plasmana2009-01-15

Pretty much. Cut to the quick and keep it flying like a bullet. When you're making a video it's easy to think that people really need to see the setup to understand what's going on. So people will show the scene for 5-10 seconds (or more) before anything happens. In truth you can get away with as little as half a second sometimes if it's set up with other footage first.

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Plasmana (author)fungus amungus2009-01-15

Hmm, interesting, so, on the videos, I should show the action and just explain the setup on the video description... Thank you for that useful tip! :-)

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fungus amungus (author)Plasmana2009-01-15
well, it varies from video to video. By "setup" here I meant what the scene in the video is. If the pieces are more complex or require explanation then you can still include it. Just edit the footage down.

That was my goal on the christmas cannon video. Have a quick sequence showing what's going on and then move right into the action.
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user

THAT WAS THE BEST! Hahahaha...Eric getting shot with tinsel...

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user

Recommend going to YT and selecting the high-quality option. Looks much better.

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user

Wow, it sure does! It's almost as though you enjoyed shooting Eric or something! :D

May I make a GIF using still images from the video?

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It was fun. We all got shot the same amount of times, but Eric's reactions were the best.

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:D It looks like a blast (no pun intended). Thanks!

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Plasmana (author)fungus amungus2009-01-16

Okay,I get your point, very funny video BTW! :-D

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kelseymh (author)Plasmana2009-01-15

That is such a wonderfully simple way to put it. It's true and accurate. I think it was Michelangelo, when asked how he created sculptures like David, explained that he "just took away the unnecessary stone."

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Plasmana (author)kelseymh2009-01-16

Haha! That is interesting..

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KentsOkay (author)2009-01-13

If I find a video uniteresting, poorly made, or just plain anoying, I turn it off. I watch IndyMogul's videos OVER AND OVER due to entertainment value...

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Goodhart (author)KentsOkay2009-01-16

The AppDev training CD I spoke of, I HAD to go through for work...over and over again...

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Plasmana (author)KentsOkay2009-01-14

IndyMogul? Never heard of it...

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Plasmana (author)KentsOkay2009-01-15

Cool! Some funny videos they made!

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KentsOkay (author)Plasmana2009-01-15

INdeed, and awesome projects to boot!

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Plasmana (author)KentsOkay2009-01-15

Yeah, on the giant sandwich video, the most funniest bit was a person in the giant sandwich protesting and starts chasing a guy who was busy eating a sandwich!

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Greg Pless (author)2009-01-14

If a video is well done, and just highlights the steps instead of droning on, I think it can work. Especially if you are interested in picking up some build tips or building the actual project. I can watch Norm on the New Yankee Workshop all day. But if you are not a DIY type person, you are not likely going to be interested in a How To video. This graph is not accurate because the audience is not defined.

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Greg Pless (author)Greg Pless2009-01-15

Excellent point! LOL Obvious now. It would be interesting to know how many of the people clicking were true die hard Tinker types willing to put up with low production value for a few juicy build tips, or simply the "just surfing" crowd. It would be tough to break that out, I'm sure. And your point is not missed, it's got to be compelling, short and sweet to keep the eyeballs, and the emphasis should be on the write up. Which is good, because at a 300:1 Production:Final time ratio for good video, it's a big time saver to keep it short! BTW - Absolutely love the way you have laid out Instructables.com, the step by step panels, and ability to embed a video as well is just fantastic for learning and teaching.

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ewilhelm (author)Greg Pless2009-01-15

The audience is perfectly well defined. The audience is self-selected by definition: it's people who were interested enough in the video's title to click on it.

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Skyfinity (author)2009-01-15

Personally, I think we can all prove those goofballs down at TubeMogul wrong. Forget the statistics' effect on what most people chose to do and continue to do what you want to do. If everyone did that, we wouldn't be hearing about statistics like this! Skyfinity---away!

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CameronSS (author)2009-01-13

And oddly enough, there's a certain video that's been floating around for over a year now, which is 17 minutes long, and I have literally watched it over and over again...mostly because it gives me project ideas.

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chiok (author)CameronSS2009-01-15

That is analagous to a moth to a flame. I wasn't sure why, but I couldn't stop watching. A plethora of jigs and fixtures and FIRE! Good find!

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unklstuart (author)CameronSS2009-01-15

Amazing video, but I sure would like to fix the music loop.

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Plasmana (author)CameronSS2009-01-14

That is an really interesting video...

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gmoon (author)CameronSS2009-01-14

Seconded for that vid. It's inspirational for me, too.

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Goodhart (author)2009-01-15

I remember trying to sit through (and work with) AppDev training CD's I kept falling asleep and really had a great deal of trouble with the VBScript section (I kept replying it and falling a sleep....not recommended practice at work, thankfully I am behind a locked door ;-)

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Labot2001 (author)2009-01-14

I agree. I don't like videos that document a full-length step-by-step; time lapses are fine... What I really like are videos of the final product.

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=SMART= (author)2009-01-13

LOL @ 10%-25% of people leaving after 5 seconds

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kelseymh (author)=SMART=2009-01-13

That's what I'd do. See something that looks like it might be interesting from the snapshot, start playing, and see what utter crap it is pretty quickly...

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Honus (author)2009-01-14

For me, the video should always enhance written instruction- not be a substitution. I'd much rather have a video that shows a project in its final working state than have a video that shows me how to build the project.

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teamcoltra (author)2009-01-14

I hate those people who listen to 20 seconds of a song and turn it off/switch the song, watch the first few minutes of a movie/show and then change it... To me, if you change it that fast your are going to probably miss the good part, if I turned off WALL-E in the beginning because I thought it was incredibly lame, I would have missed out on the rest of the really good movie.

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comodore (author)2009-01-14

Well, KipKay is not boring me, for now... :P It depends, some How to videos are very cool, and you can see that the guy did a lot to make the video as best as he can, and then there are those that just don't know what the hell are they talking bout...those hosts are the worst to me....

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jessyratfink (author)2009-01-13

I admit I find them boring and irritating. Then again, this applies for most things I watch online. ;) People either go all crazy radio announcer for how-to videos or they don't speak at all - that bothers me. Or they'll pull the "here's an attractive girl, tis a shame we hired her for her breasts to get views and she doesn't actually know what she's doing!" trick, which is just as bad. I just wish people would be honest and to-the-point with their projects. I think videos would be better off showcasing something for 30 seconds and then linking to text instructions.

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kelseymh (author)jessyratfink2009-01-13

:-) You mean like this video, which correlates to this animation, demonstrating the implementation of this project?

Yeah, I see what you mean ;->

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gmoon (author)2009-01-13

Videos are at best a supplement to written / pictured information. I almost never watch instructional videos--what, I'm gonna take notes? I gotta draw my own pictures? That's what webpages are for...

They're great for demonstration purposes, though. Seeing a project in action is a real asset--and it's much missed if omitted.

But build instructions... :-P

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Kiteman (author)2009-01-13

To me, it's a sad reflection on modern culture that over half the viewers that chose to watch a video get bored and switch off after only one minute. IMO, it's a lack of patience engendered by an excess of video games and music videos.

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fungus amungus (author)Kiteman2009-01-13

It's not that sad. Most videos are bad.

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Not to mention the community on YouTube is *appaling*.

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Kiteman (author)whatsisface2009-01-13

It doesn't say YouTube was the only site they looked at.

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whatsisface (author)Kiteman2009-01-13

Yeah I was just giving it as an example, I can't speak for other sites.

Youtube has a good deal of "OMG IT WORKED I TRIED IT JUST NOW LOL!!!111!!" when it's the typical onion+gatorade=ipod charger video.

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