Is text really king over video? Compare the results

Steve Rubel postulates that text is a lot better than video on the web.

Oh, really? Well, explain this graph from Compete.com that compares fastcompany.tv (my video blog) to techmeme (which only displays text and penalizes videos).

Truth is that if you want to build an audience on the web you must use EVERY tool available.

And I’m not taking that advice yet. Yesterday I joined Digg (I never used it much until yesterday). Tomorrow, YouTube (SEO’s tell me that doing YouTube well helps your search engine ranking a lot — Chris Pirillo has been playing YouTube like a fiddle and he’s rocking and rolling everywhere).

He’s right. Text is easier to consume. Easier to search. All that stuff. But here, let’s try something. You take 1,000 words to explain to me what the next game from EA looks like. I’ll do it in a minute or two of video. The video will beat your blog every time. Every time!

Text may be king, like Rubel says, but video is godly. My traffic curves prove that.

And we won’t even get into how Gary Vaynerchuk is using Wine Library TV — there is no way he would be even 1/100th as successful by doing just a text blog. Speaking of Gary, Troy Malone videoed our presentation we gave at CES last week about how to build a successful blog in a bad economy. Thanks for doing that! Lots of people said it was really great.

82 thoughts on “Is text really king over video? Compare the results

  1. Basically what you’re more or less agreeing on is that the message has to fit both medium and reciepient. This isn’t new.

    I’m not sure Steve Martin was referring to SEO when he said this, but it fits like a glove:

    “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture”.

    It sucks to make a video game trailer in text, just as it would suck writing a scientific thesis as 3 minute pop song.

  2. Basically what you’re more or less agreeing on is that the message has to fit both medium and reciepient. This isn’t new.

    I’m not sure Steve Martin was referring to SEO when he said this, but it fits like a glove:

    “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture”.

    It sucks to make a video game trailer in text, just as it would suck writing a scientific thesis as 3 minute pop song.

  3. @Cannonball – I would have to disagree with your assertion “textual content still rules the roost when it comes to search rankings and nothing is going to change that”.

    In fact, it is a lot easier to rank with video content QUICKLY if you know what you are doing in terms of SEO (partly because Google for obvious reasons favors its own video property, YouTube…). Go check out TrafficGeyser.com, those guys are going great guns over there.

    You might lose ranking again fairly quickly as well, like a few days or weeks (have to throw a good bit of Social Bookmarking at it to make it stick longer), but then it’s easy to just re-release the same video with slightly tweaked text parameters.

    Also, as was said further up, video views is still growing strongly, and YouTube searches have already overtaken Yahoo to become the #2 “search engine” in the U.S. So this is powerful stuff, especially SEO wise.

    BTW, the reason why I have no problem giving away these strategies is that 1) 95%+ of people don’t take action, and 2) the fear/confidence barrier with video content creation will keep most people over say 30 out for a good long while, while the kids that are eminently comfortable with it are too young to care about the marketing aspects of their skill…

    That and the fact that most people regardless of age don’t know what it takes to create compelling video content using SPEED as I explained further up.

  4. @Cannonball – I would have to disagree with your assertion “textual content still rules the roost when it comes to search rankings and nothing is going to change that”.

    In fact, it is a lot easier to rank with video content QUICKLY if you know what you are doing in terms of SEO (partly because Google for obvious reasons favors its own video property, YouTube…). Go check out TrafficGeyser.com, those guys are going great guns over there.

    You might lose ranking again fairly quickly as well, like a few days or weeks (have to throw a good bit of Social Bookmarking at it to make it stick longer), but then it’s easy to just re-release the same video with slightly tweaked text parameters.

    Also, as was said further up, video views is still growing strongly, and YouTube searches have already overtaken Yahoo to become the #2 “search engine” in the U.S. So this is powerful stuff, especially SEO wise.

    BTW, the reason why I have no problem giving away these strategies is that 1) 95%+ of people don’t take action, and 2) the fear/confidence barrier with video content creation will keep most people over say 30 out for a good long while, while the kids that are eminently comfortable with it are too young to care about the marketing aspects of their skill…

    That and the fact that most people regardless of age don’t know what it takes to create compelling video content using SPEED as I explained further up.

  5. Good post Scoble. I guess a question for you and the community is this:

    Being that there are so many mediums with which to communicate your message, do you think that if you’re much better at text than video, does cutting video damage your brand or not?

    I guess what I’m saying is, if you rock one medium and suck at another in the social networking community, does anyone care?

    I think of people getting burned who try to medium jump like when Shaq put out a rap record (apples and oranges I know, but just throwing that out there)

    Thanks.

    -M

  6. Good post Scoble. I guess a question for you and the community is this:

    Being that there are so many mediums with which to communicate your message, do you think that if you’re much better at text than video, does cutting video damage your brand or not?

    I guess what I’m saying is, if you rock one medium and suck at another in the social networking community, does anyone care?

    I think of people getting burned who try to medium jump like when Shaq put out a rap record (apples and oranges I know, but just throwing that out there)

    Thanks.

    -M

  7. At the end of the day textual content still rules the roost when it comes to search rankings and nothing is going to change that. But you’re right, when there is so much rich media available it’s stupid to put all your eggs in one basket – every little bit helps and different media are better suited to different purposes. You have to balance search engine friendliness with usability, something that a lot of sites seem to forget. A good balance of media should ensure a site that can be found and that people will return to time and time again, that’s the winning formula.

  8. At the end of the day textual content still rules the roost when it comes to search rankings and nothing is going to change that. But you’re right, when there is so much rich media available it’s stupid to put all your eggs in one basket – every little bit helps and different media are better suited to different purposes. You have to balance search engine friendliness with usability, something that a lot of sites seem to forget. A good balance of media should ensure a site that can be found and that people will return to time and time again, that’s the winning formula.

  9. I’m with srikanth. Have read pretty much every Scoble posting here in the last few years yet only watched one or two videos – if that.

    Scoble said: “You take 1,000 words to explain to me what the next game from EA looks like. I’ll do it in a minute or two of video.”

    Firstly, a picture is worth 1,000 words, and that only takes a millisecond to view.

    But as others keep saying, you can take in text a lot faster and more flexibly than video, so those 1,00 words can be read in a a minute.

    And also of course, there’s no waiting for text to stream, or interruptions like streaming video.

    It really comes down to what someone else said, I have to make the time to stop and watch video. so you really have to have a need to watch a video, much more than a want. Which I do do sometimes – eg just today I watched TUAW’s interview with Michael Simmons (of Cultured Code’s Things todo manager), but that was because I’m writing a review of Things.

    I guess when your online videos are as easy to skim as skimming is in iMovie, then I might find I’d watch, although the problem with knowing what’s being said.

    In the end, video’s role is still complementary. It adds to a story.

  10. I’m with srikanth. Have read pretty much every Scoble posting here in the last few years yet only watched one or two videos – if that.

    Scoble said: “You take 1,000 words to explain to me what the next game from EA looks like. I’ll do it in a minute or two of video.”

    Firstly, a picture is worth 1,000 words, and that only takes a millisecond to view.

    But as others keep saying, you can take in text a lot faster and more flexibly than video, so those 1,00 words can be read in a a minute.

    And also of course, there’s no waiting for text to stream, or interruptions like streaming video.

    It really comes down to what someone else said, I have to make the time to stop and watch video. so you really have to have a need to watch a video, much more than a want. Which I do do sometimes – eg just today I watched TUAW’s interview with Michael Simmons (of Cultured Code’s Things todo manager), but that was because I’m writing a review of Things.

    I guess when your online videos are as easy to skim as skimming is in iMovie, then I might find I’d watch, although the problem with knowing what’s being said.

    In the end, video’s role is still complementary. It adds to a story.

  11. Video works better than text. You only have to look at history to see how TV completely decimated all other forms of communication in terms of adoption, revenue, etc. Video killed the radio star, the newspaper star, the book star. The big dollars are and have been in video on TV. Now with a new distribution channel over the Web video is growing like crazy. Think about this, October saw more videos viewed 13.5 billion than core search queries (11.8b, ComScore)! That 13.5b is up 45% YOY. Video online is what people are looking for.

    Text is a great communication tool and trumps video in a lot of ways, but there’s no way you can make a blanket statement that text kills video online. Text has done better because the barriers have been higher. As costs come down on the technology to produce video, as broadband improves and as people get more comfortable with the medium we’ll see nothing but more and more video content and consumption and it will outpace text for years to come.

    Saying text kills video is simply not accurate.

  12. Video works better than text. You only have to look at history to see how TV completely decimated all other forms of communication in terms of adoption, revenue, etc. Video killed the radio star, the newspaper star, the book star. The big dollars are and have been in video on TV. Now with a new distribution channel over the Web video is growing like crazy. Think about this, October saw more videos viewed 13.5 billion than core search queries (11.8b, ComScore)! That 13.5b is up 45% YOY. Video online is what people are looking for.

    Text is a great communication tool and trumps video in a lot of ways, but there’s no way you can make a blanket statement that text kills video online. Text has done better because the barriers have been higher. As costs come down on the technology to produce video, as broadband improves and as people get more comfortable with the medium we’ll see nothing but more and more video content and consumption and it will outpace text for years to come.

    Saying text kills video is simply not accurate.

  13. Text is indeed King for all the reasons noted. For me to watch a video online I must first believe it has something of (enough) value for me to shift all of my ‘attention’, a word I know you love, to it. Unfortunately this is rarely the case.

    It’s a lot easier to get me to skim a few paragraphs that might contain something of interest than to have me watch a 2 minute video that quite possibly has nothing in it that is of the slightest interest to me.

  14. Text is indeed King for all the reasons noted. For me to watch a video online I must first believe it has something of (enough) value for me to shift all of my ‘attention’, a word I know you love, to it. Unfortunately this is rarely the case.

    It’s a lot easier to get me to skim a few paragraphs that might contain something of interest than to have me watch a 2 minute video that quite possibly has nothing in it that is of the slightest interest to me.

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