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Is a Minute of Video Really Worth 1.8 Million Words?

Doubtful. It’s probably no more scientifically accurate than saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

But this oft repeated phrase, attributed to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research, "a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words" is probably marketing hype that has been pushed around the internet by other video production companies. Common sense tells me that it should be taken with a grain of salt.

For the record: Dr. McQuivey is a legitimate analyst at Forrester Research. And with his credentials, such a bold statement sounds very scientific and impressive. But I’m guessing two things about the quote:

  • It was taken out of context and

  • It was calculated based upon an unproven assumption.

No algorithms. No big data. Just simple math.

We all know: A picture is worth a thousand words, (also never scientifically proven, right?)

Okay. Well if one second of video is 30 frames per second (NTSC)

And if 1 frame equals 1 picture…

And 60 seconds equal 1 minute (last time I checked.)

Then 30 pictures per second x 1000 words = 30,000 words per second, and so it follows that:

60 seconds x 30,000 words per second = 1.8 million words per minute.

Not all that brilliant after all is it?

Marketing Madness

But now it’s time for me to play Devil’s Advocate. Because without doing any math at all, I can tell you that the number and variety of impressions that can be made per minute in a video - with sound, music, reenactments, text, animation, b-roll and interviews is very complex, indeed.

McQuivey’s formula suggests that video is exponentially more powerful than the written word. And it is. But not based on his math. Video has become an essential component of the marketing mix for its fast-acting power to influence, explain and motivate.

Websites, in particular, take on increased relevance when a video is added to the home page as a brief introduction to an individual’s or an organization’s offerings.

According to an article quoted in , “Using video on landing pages can increase conversion by 80%.” But let's get real here. Maybe an increase in conversion can be expected sometimes as much as 80%, but certainly not EVERYTIME. (See what I mean? More hype.)

Just Put the Link in your Homepage

Thanks to YouTube, creating a channel of company videos that can be linked to a company’s website is super easy. And with the proliferation of smart phones, these videos and websites have become portable and accessible 24/7 – a marketer’s dream.

According to Marion Marvil of Natcom, online video is here to stay. “For both B2B and B2C initiatives, the use of video is one of the most effective marketing tactics available within a marketer’s arsenal across multiple platforms. Whether it is used to sell, inform, entertain, evoke an emotion or share beliefs, video captures viewers and makes lasting impressions...”

I agree with Ms. Marvil. And again no math is required. And if you’ve ever used a website site with video yourself, and who hasn’t, you know firsthand that people spend more time on a website when a video is offered. You are very likely to share a video with friends or associates when it resonates with you. And no doubt, you’ve clicked the “shopping cart” button more frequently when there’s a video that clearly explains the capabilities of a product or provides an overview of an organization you wish to support.

The Sleeping Giant Awakens

In the years of VHS and DVD distribution, video didn’t have the audiences that it has today. I like to say: back then, video was ‘sleeping’ waiting for the kiss of broadband to wake it up and kick it into gear. Now video is java’d up and ready to rock.

I’d wager that there isn’t a marketing initiative that hasn’t been improved by the addition of a video link. And, you know what? It doesn’t really matter how many words it’s worth. A thousand or a million… When it comes to video, it’s a proven marketing tactic you can count on.

Looking forward to producing your next one!

For more information contact: Marilyn Petrokubi,,

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