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Attention, Please! 4 Quick Tips to Hold Viewers Through Your Entire Video Ad

It’s true that the human attention span has become laughably short, but don’t let that lower the bar for your advertising. There is hope in video.

People spend 2.6x longer on web pages with video than without, according to Wistia. That said, attention is earned, not promised. And without it, you have nothing. Your video can be amazing by every creative measure, but it has to capture and keep the audience’s attention in order to get results. Here are a few tips to make your video ads more attention-worthy from beginning to end.

1. Follow the 10-Second Rule

You can never assume you have someone’s attention for long—especially in advertising, when the viewer isn’t choosing to see your content. Every 10 seconds you hold their attention earns another 10. That means that every 10 seconds, you need to give them something, whether it makes them smile, laugh, think, or provides them with new and useful information. Those 10 seconds are going to fly by, so give your script and storyboard a gut check even before you get to filming.

2. Move Through Cuts Quickly

Two to three cuts in the first five seconds will grab attention and make people want to stick around. Many viewers leave by the 10-second mark—right around when it’s time for you to regain their attention—if things feel like they’re slowing down.

The 10-second rule is not a philosophy or theory. It’s a fact backed by science. The average attention span is now eight seconds. Another second for someone to decide they’re over it, plus one more to physically click elsewhere, and you will either keep or lose them. On that note, be particularly mindful of cuts that occur on a 10-second mark, as they become pivotal for advancing to the next time frame.

3. Create Visual Impact

A phenomenal script can still fall flat if it’s not accompanied by engaging visuals. Pair the first two tips above with a focus on visual storytelling to keep people watching. And remember that many viewers are on mobile devices with the sound on mute. You can use captions to an extent, but the visual impact still needs to be there. It can be as simple as moving from a neutral background to a bright background, or a more elaborate scene staged to entertain.

4. Reroute Their Mind

You’ve still got your viewer’s attention as your video hits the home stretch—great work. Last but not least, you must change their mind.

They were going about their day before your ad appeared. Now, they’re watching it casually, with no commitment, ready to move on to whatever they were going to do next. Your mission is to steer their attention toward the action you want them to take. That can be done as gently or abruptly as you decide. Regardless, the call to action should be clear and enticing. They’ve watched this long; a purchase is just as much a payoff for them as it is for you.