Commentary

Are Six-Second Vines Something More Than a Novelty Act?

All Things Considered, which is sometimes too true to its own name aired a good 4:37 story on Vine on Tuesday, specifically probing why a six -second video works better than say, seven.

NPR’s Laura Sydell reported: “I asked Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann if one day he had a revelation that six seconds was just right.” And he said that after experimenting with other lengths, six seconds won, not five (for example).

About five seconds?  "It was actually too short," he says.

But looping the video makes a six-second video seem perfect, he says, for catching an infant taking first steps, or spitting up food, or for comedians. Sydell notes that creativity often occurs because of limits of some sort. Like haiku. But she notes that form of poetry “hasn’t become a popular tool for marketers.”

That’s not true for Vine. It has 40 million users, supposedly, and some hip ad content, if part of a hip ad is that it’s super short. The hidden attribute is they’re so short you watch them again and again until six seconds worth of experience has turned into 24 or 30. And because they are so short, the idly curious (me) want to see how a Vine producer makes its point. In some ways, they’re a little like playing penny slot machines. You don’t really notice how much you’ve spent.    

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The story is a good listen. But some of the comments on the NPR site are a good read:

“What, you can't tell 124 characters from 140 characters?” asked one commenter. “The whole thing so easily facilitates stripping most thinking away from a moment's impulsive feeling."

 Said another:   “One distinction that the article did not mention is that the medium hearkens back somewhat to 8-track tape film recording, especially in regards to the 'eerie' effect created by Vine films. A 6-second loop lends the recording a kind of ephemeral quality as it portrays a tiny portion of life, potentially taking on new meaning when isolated from its context or magnifying the emotion of that isolated moment in a similar way to those old looping home movies.”

And finally, “Yes, Laura, someone has used Haiku for a successful marketing campaign.

Raid

Kills bugs

Dead

-Allen Ginsberg”

I’ve checked this out a little. It seems it was really the work of fellow beat poet Lew Welch, who created the line for Raid at Foot, Cone & Belding, where he worked briefly. The slogan doesn’t fit the definition of haiku as a poem in 17 syllables, but Ginsberg championed a less rigid kind of haiku because he thought the Japanese version of it really didn’t work with the English language.

Whatever. The Raid slogan was apparently considered pretty hep at the time.  I’m so sorry I brought it up.

But come to think of it that Raid slogan would make a good Vine video tagline.

pj@mediapost.com

2 comments about "Are Six-Second Vines Something More Than a Novelty Act?".
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  1. Russ Somers from Invodo, August 21, 2013 at 2:57 p.m.

    Nice post, PJ. I'm neither Ginsberg nor Welch, but here's a haiku:

    Marketing campaign
    Six seconds of video
    Oops - blinked and missed it

  2. pj bednarski from MediaPost.com, August 21, 2013 at 3:37 p.m.

    Somehow, Russ, I sense an instructional video on Haiku in the making...

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