We Want to Help ... No, No, Wait


Video health information site is boasting meteoric growth in 2010. The Health information site is a pure video experience, which is exceptional in a category like health where the torrent of detailed data usually requires tons of text. In this case we have snippets of advice, facts, symptom run-downs, treatment options, etc. from health professionals and a lot of doctors with stethoscopes looped around their necks as a visual cue of their professional stature. The site says it has increased its video views 261% in 2010. Its YouTube channel is one point of distribution, but the company syndicates elsewhere.

The site metrics suggest that health video is itself becoming a video sub-genre that could attract the kind of pharma and health product sponsor support that makes the non-video healthcare segment so lucrative online. HealthGuru says it averages 3.3 million uniques a month that consume 14.9 million videos (December 2010). Health video appears to be a browser's medium, with 11.4 minutes of videos viewed by per viewer.

The 2,000 videos are in eight major categories (diet and Fitness, Pregnancy, Mental Health, etc.). They add about 50 to 75 new videos a month.

Since health video itself can be pretty tedious (how many grim-faced, stethoscope-wearing professionals can we take?), the site is starting to mix it up with creative video re-mixes. A video quiz series has the user answer health questions and then get the correct answer with a video clip. The site also hosts a range of surveys that graph the audience's responses.

It will be interesting to see how much health video grows and how its consumption compares to text-based media. There is a real question here about what types of information video is and is not well-suited to deliver. Health information is by its nature complex and detailed, and the way we retrieve it I think is often a matter of panning and scanning long scrolls of information for the keywords and items we really are looking for (sometimes desperately). How well does video really map against that use case? When a symptom pops that worries a user, how much patience do you have with a few minutes of video that may or may not get to your key concern?

In the case of, the process of getting to the information is frustrated also by relentless pre-rolls. To their credit, the video content itself is well done and appears trustworthy. But the pre-roll press is stultifying. On a recent visit I must have seen the same Honda :30 a dozen times with no skip option and slapped in front of every content clip, some as short as a minute. That is an ad load, frequency and value exchange that just isn't (dare I say?) "healthy" for the cause of video content generally.

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