Anatomy of an Engaging Video

Anatomy of an Engaging Video

Video is a key driver of engagement with consumers.  Whether you are a small business or a market leader, marketers are incorporating video their marketing plans for 2016 to gain a competitive advantage. We dissect the anatomy of an engaging video to help you reach your audience more effectively and develop a deeper and ultimately a more profitable connection.

The Nose: It’s Not About You

The nose is considered the first 2% of a video. In terms of time, this 2% of course varies by the total length of the video. It’s the first inflection or loss point for video retention.

Here is an audience retention graph from one of PIX11 Media’s recent native video campaigns. This campaign had a 10 second introduction with motion graphics and text before moving into content. You see that the first inflection point of audience loss happens around the 12 second mark. This was a high performing video because initial audience loss was only 2%.

Anatomy of an Engaging Video Audience Retention Graph
Audience retention graph from a recent native video campaign on

The worse thing you can do at the beginning of a video is talk about yourself or your brand. You have a finite amount of time to grab your audience’s attention. Unlike television, you do not have a ‘ramp up’ time to set the stage and build towards a conclusion or climax.

Common video marketing wisdom gives you 10 seconds to grab the attention of your audience, but some formats like Facebook offer only 3 seconds of viewing to count as a view.

  • Don’t beat around the bush. Get to the point of your video quickly.
  • Limit introductory graphics. Introductory graphics are useful particularly if you’re stating the purpose of your video; however, if viewers are watching a lot of your videos in succession, repetitive introductory graphics or sequences can get repetitive.
  • Speak directly to how your audience will gain value from the video. Value can mean inspiration, information or entertainment. The value proposition must be clear as you are about to enter a transaction with your audience and potential customers: their time for your content. Make sure that transaction benefit is clear in the nose of the video.

The Body: Content with a Purpose

The body is the meat and potatoes of your video. Once you’ve gotten over the initial audience loss inflection point in the nose, now you need to create a compelling video that holds your audience’s attention.

Content is king. Content choices can either make or break your video and determine the amount of consumers you reach, the amount of consumers you engage and the amount of new consumers that interact with your brand.

Looking at the audience retention graph after your first 50 video views gives you valuable information about points in your video that are losing audience. Pay attention to these and if possible, make edits to limit audience loss.

In general, there are three content types most successful videos fall in: emotional, educational and entertaining. Each type has a specific value in the transaction of your viewers’ time for your content.


This type of content connects with consumers on an emotional level. These videos tug at the heartstrings and evoke joy, sadness, hope, anger, fear etc.

The value in these videos is the emotional pay-off. The risk with this format is seeming too opportunistic. There is also the risk of turning people off by being too emotional. How many of you have turned the channel when ‘In the Arms of the Angels’ song starts?  


Educational videos have been particularly successful on YouTube and on social media. Brands have embraced this genre to showcase how to live the life their products have us imagining. The value in these videos is the knowledge one will gain from watching the video. These types of videos are great for social media and drive social sharing.


The final content type is entertaining. The value of this type of video is in the entertainment derived from the video. This is by far the most diverse type in terms of subject areas and success stories.

The Tail: Content with a Plan

The last 2% of a video is considered the ‘tail’. The tail is the last inflection point for audience loss. The goal during the tail is to retain viewers until the end of the video and propel those viewers into action.

Key here is to not signal to the viewer that the significant information is over. Your logo appearing on screen or statements like “in summary” or “to wrap up” will also tell your viewing audience that the video is over and it’s time to move on.

You don’t have to include a call-to-action at the end of the video, but it’s an opportunity missed if you do not. Ask your viewers to share your video if they found the information valuable. Add an opportunity to collect email addresses with a pop-up.

Anatomy of an Engaging Video: Key Takeaways

When using video as a marketing tool, it’s important to be mindful of the distinct parts of the video and the role they play in audience retention.

  • The first 2% of the video is where you grab your audience’s attention. Limited introductory graphics and a clear transaction value up front are critical.
  • The body is content driven. You need to deliver on the value you stated during the nose of the video paying attention to audience loss inflection points.
  • The tail needs to have a goal for audience direction and attention needs to be given to any signals of the end of ‘valuable’ content.