Everybody knows that video is king on the Internet – or is it? If you’re an Internet publisher, which is better: text or video? A survey that was commissioned by the Internet Patrol, and done by the excellent technology research firm, Osterman Research, has found that, for some things, people prefer text (in fact, vastly prefer text) to having to watch a video to get the same information.
The survey asked whether the responders preferred to get information on the Internet by reading it, or by watching a video about the same information, in the following four representative categories:
– A 30-minute training session on information needed for work
– A 10-minute training session on information needed for work
– An explanation of the current financial crisis from a leading expert
– A 2-minute news story
For each category of information, the responders where asked whether they would prefer to receive the information as video or as text; they could also express ‘no preference.’
The survey also asked them to rate each of the categories under two different scenarios: while at work, and while at home.
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While there was very little difference in the preferences between at work and at home (although there was some), there was an appreciable difference as to text versus video preferences, depending on the category of information.
In fact, for information which was not specifically training information, the respondents vastly preferred to receive the information as text, rather than video.
Here’s how it broke down:
Do People Prefer to Read Text or Watch a Video While at Work?
Do People Prefer to Read Text or Watch a Video When at Home?
While at Work
For a thirty-minute training video, 63% of respondents preferred a video to having to read how to do the thing, while at work, and for a ten-minute training video, 58% of people responding preferred a video.
But when it comes to learning about non-training information like the information from a financial expert, or a news story, people preferred to read text by more than 2:1 for the financial info, and more than 3:1 for the news.
Now, one might think that this is because they don’t want to be caught watching non-work-related, non-training films at work, but the ‘while at home’ responses reveal the same trend.
While at Home
Interestingly, the preference to watch a 30-minute training video, versus reading the same how-to information decreased by 2% if the respondents were at home, while the preference for the 10-minute video increased by 2%.
But the most interesting thing to us is that even while at home, where they presumably wouldn’t have to worry about ‘being caught’ watching a non-work-related video, the preference for reading text over watching the same information in a non-training video is marked: between 52% and 62% of respondents (depending on the type of information) still prefer to read text to watching a video.
This survey was taken by 340 respondents. While granted, that’s not 1000s of people, we’ve been assured that a sample of more than 300 is a reasonable sample size, as, generally speaking, for a technology-focused survey, anything over 100 is normally reasonable as long as the data is not segmented into smaller sections.
Many thanks to the wonderful Osterman Research for running this survey!
So how about you? Do you prefer to prefer to consume your online information by reading text, or watching a video?
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