Video Quality Report: Sometimes Good Enough is Good Enough

Video quality is vital, right?

Well, of course it is. But what is the line that separates acceptable quality from high quality, and when is acceptable good enough?

The quality issue is particularly applicable to how-to videos. Informational and instructional videos don’t often amass millions of views, but they are the steady and reliable performers that viewers turn to daily. They’re also prime fodder for marketers. Many how-to and informational videos release on a regular schedule and develop loyal followings, making them key venues for targeted online video advertising.

Here’s the wild card, however. How good does the video need to be?

As an example, I’m a regular viewer of yoga teacher Tara Stiles videos. She’s been uploading to YouTube for four years now, and has posted about 379 videos that have collectively earned 12.6 million views, for an average of about 33,000 views per video on the video sharing site. She’s also snagged advertisers such as Nissan Leaf.

Stiles also recently began producing a weekly video series called The Yoga Solution for healthy living site LiveStrong.com. Those videos are averaging about 15,000 views per video so far, with a total view count of 600,000 since the launch at the start of the year. Her second LiveStrongWoman show debuts next month.

There is a marked difference in quality in the videos that live on YouTube under her channel and those on Livestrong. The Livestrong videos feature better lighting, audio, and camerawork and have more of a produced feel.

As an example, here are two yoga videos focusing on hips, one from YouTube and one from Livestrong. Both have largely similar view counts. As a regular “consumer” of Tara Stiles videos I’d do either video. Sure, I can tell the Livestrong ones are better empirically, but I still like the homegrown videos too. Now, I’d never advocate producing poor-quality videos, but the two styles raise the question of what is the bar with quality for how-to videos? How highly produced do they have to be?

My conclusion? Make your videos good enough. If you can make them better, do that. But a whizz-bang style of production won’t make the difference. What matters is -- you guessed it -- what’s inside. Tara Stiles is just a darn good yoga instructor, whether there are sirens in the background and bad lighting in a hotel room, or whether she’s doing a warrior pose in front of a swanky infinity pool.

 

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6 comments about "Video Quality Report: Sometimes Good Enough is Good Enough".
  1. Daryl McNutt from Adaptive Media , September 17, 2012 at 4:51 p.m.
    Well done. OLV is used in so many different ways than most of us think when we discuss traditional TV. Love this article.
  2. Patrick Fitzgerald from Straight Face Productions , September 17, 2012 at 5:52 p.m.
    Brands don't need to sacrifice standards to produce high quality online content. Crowdsource production models are efficient and deliver agency quality video content at a fraction of the cost. These models often use the same production talent as agencies have for years; social platforms provide commercial filmmakers a new way to work, and offer brands access to scaleable resources without the overhead. New marketing channels require new resources, crowdsource creative models offer that.
  3. Arlen Tarlofsky from Glow Productions , September 18, 2012 at 8:25 a.m.
    I agree that over producing a video can draw the attention from a message, and quite often production value can overshadow a weak one, but be careful with the phrase "good enough". Good lighting and quality sound, as well as competent camerawork do not have to become a budget hurdle. Drawing the line is a personal decision, but I personally have a problem engaging with a video that has sound that is challenging for me to hear, a picture that is a little soft and light that's a bit too dark to make out the details of the yoga position. These "details" are not a problem for a short silly comedy video or an amateurish viral video look, in fact those attributes may help. But if you're trying to build a brand be careful.
  4. Mark Walker from aka Media Mark , September 18, 2012 at 11:44 a.m.
    I guess for me, it comes down to the purpose of the video. Are you giving info away- or are you selling it? If you are selling, it should be the best video you can afford to make. Period. Thanks Whitney- I always enjoy your articles.
  5. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct , September 28, 2012 at 5:22 p.m.
    Agreed. I've even seen tremendous video power lost when teams over-produce them. It requires a bit of a touch - it's not about high or low quality. It's really about "the right" quality for their purpose.
  6. David Anderson from Stream Three Creative , October 3, 2012 at 8:38 a.m.
    The key is the content. In this case, the authenticity of the instructor (in my opinion more powerful in the raw video) comes through and makes a connection with the audience. As the production becomes more polished, it starts to look like any one of a thousand infomercial knock offs. Content is most important, authenticity and engagement builds interest and community, and production value has to follow from there.