It seems like every year or so the agency gets half a dozen or so requests for explainer videos. Assigning and briefing creative teams on these projects is akin to asking if they can work the weekend. Eyerolls and passive aggressive cell phone engagement typically set the tone for these meetings.

I certainly get it. Until recently, I, myself, held a quiet distain for the lowly explainer video. It’s hard to remember any Cannes Gold Lions bestowed upon explainer content. My assumption was that, more often than not, the engagement metrics were underwhelming.

But that was before a recent explainer video project opened my mind to the power of the explainer video. I’ve since become somewhat of an evangelist for the misunderstood genre.

Recently, our BIO (Bio Innovation Organization) client wanted to tell the admittedly complex story surrounding the role insurance companies play in setting consumer drug costs. A whiteboard video seemed the best solution.

So we produced the video. Our media team built a DC area YouTube plan around the 10K budget. Then something amazing happened: the engagement metrics exploded.

Overall, the campaign generated 98,737 completed views at a video completion rate of 17.02%. View rate (30 second completion) surpassed the YouTube benchmark by 92% (48.84% vs. 25% View Rate), another impressive metric. By all accounts it was both a huge win and somewhat of a mystery. Something had clearly happened here that I didn’t fully understand. So I decided to do a little digging.

HubSpot has become my go-to place to go to learn about all things digital marketing, so I went there first, quickly discovering that explainer videos are actually deemed quite effective.

83% of businesses with explainer videos on their homepage say the content is effective. (Wyzowl)

80% of marketers say explainer video has increased dwell time on their website.

95% of people have watched an explainer video (from beginning to end) to learn more about a product or service.

79% of consumers prefer to watch a video as opposed to reading text-based content?

Confronted with empirical evidence that these explainer videos really do connect, I had to admit that my bias against explainer videos might have more to do with creative director snobbery than reality.

So my next question was probably the same thing you’re wondering, “Why are they so effective?”

An article in Time Magazine entitled YOU NOW HAVE A SHORTER ATTENTION SPAN THAN A GOLDFISH helped shed some light. It cites a study from Microsoft suggesting that humans now loose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on our brains. More than just another study, this “new normal” begins to explain why video content, in general, is so much more effective than written text, or even static imagery.

Turns out the hungry human brain seems to stay focused longer when subjected to video content that rapidly presents new information with fast cut pictures that support the words.

Proof of the power of video to drive engagement in a world of waning attention is found in Aberdeen’s latest report. It finds that marketers using video are seeing 49% faster growth in revenue. Interestingly, the report makes clear that the real power of video extends well beyond branded content.

Today, more than 65% of marketers who use video use it as more than a brand awareness tool and feature it throughout the sales funnel. That explains why demand for explainer videos is on the rise.

Okay, life is about learning. After a little research my logical left brain was satisfied that this genre was, indeed, an effective tool. But my right brain, the creative director voice inside my head, was screaming, “not so fast.”

When I started looking for examples of explainer videos that delivered the goods creatively, I was again surprised. Turns out, there are numerous examples of explainer videos that are both informative and entertaining.

Check out this raucous, toe-tapping Spotify video. It certainly breaks the mold of the typical whiteboard execution. The fun animation style brings the subject matter to life and keeps you engaged.

This fun to watch explainer from the Ethical Coffee chain demonstrates how tasteful art direction can elevate creative integrity.

And remember when I said I couldn’t remember any explainer videos that had won Gold Lions? Well it turns out I was wrong about that too. One of my favorite brand videos of all time, the Dollar Shave Club “My Blades are F#%&ING Great” introduction, is actually considered an explainer video. It won a Gold Lion at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

So I’m a changed man…at least when it comes to my appreciation for both the engagement power and creative potential of explainer videos. If you’re wondering if one of these powerful content dynamos might be effective for your brand, my answer would be a resounding yes!