Want to explain a complex idea in just 120 seconds? Use Animated videos

Video is moving to the forefront of marketing and communications, and animated videos in particular are proving to be powerful, persuasive, conversion-driven, and cost-effective. Discover how explainer videos cut through the noise to deliver complex ideas with clarity and impact.

2019: The age of video

This year video likely will make up 80% of all internet traffic across the world. Sure, much of that comes from streaming entertainment services like Netflix and Hulu, but the truth is that nearly everyone is starting to create original video content these days. Fortune 100s. Startups. Food bloggers. Celebs. Journalists. Researchers. In all likelihood, even your alma mater, your insurance agent, even your nephew…  

But… are you? Videos get up to 1200% more shares than text or static images. As content, they are a social media powerhouse. Consumers love it as a learning tool.

“In an age where fast, comprehensive audience understanding is so crucial, video is a smart investment for companies looking to explain their product or service to would-be customers.”
Adam Hayes, HubSpot

And from what we see, employees do as well.

Yes, we are firmly in the age of video—and if an image is worth a thousand words, then a video is more like a million (well, 1.8 million to be exact). It’s time for you to catch up or fade away.

Why animated video?

We tell you all this with one caveat: that there are significant benefits to choosing animation videos over other video formats. A good animated infographic video:

  • Will keep the attention of the viewer through quality artwork, expert pacing, voiceover, and music
  • Can simplify complex topics by making nearly anything real and understandable
  • Help to explain any industry, product, service, or idea—even ones that don’t exist yet!
  • Is cost effective, especially compared to location productions or recognizable on-screen talent
  • Doesn’t require “acting”, which when amateurish, looks really low-budget
  • Is easily shareable via nearly any social platform or CMS, on desktop or mobile
  • Is waaaaay easier to match to a brand, and to update compared to live action videos
  • Can be just plain fun, and can even induce a sense of nostalgia in some people

Videos that check off even just a few of these items can speed up the sales process, because let’s face it—most people don’t look forward to interacting with salespeople. A compelling, well-made video can push your leads straight to your BOFU (bottom of the funnel) offer. And if you thought the benefits we listed above sounded good, have a look at these actual statistics:

Listen, we’re big fans of pictures and words. They go together, naturally and effectively. The problem is using too many words when you’re trying to attract and engage. This is true whether you’re working on an internal change initiative or marketing B2B or B2C. The details can come later, whether in a white paper, annual report, contract, support document, or owner’s manual.

But a short explainer video is pretty much the most powerful way to quickly engage your audience. Here’s an example. We made this for Adobe, to help the international software giant explain how PDFs work:

Cut through the noise in 120 seconds

Short? So what do we mean by “short”?

We like to aim for around two minutes. This is the sweet spot. Simply creating a video animation (even a really good one) doesn’t secure user engagement. It’s important to be able to explain your complex idea in a timeframe that hits home—and that doesn’t make people want to go home.

This means that you’re not going to be able to tell everyone everything. In fact, if you use voiceover, you’re only going to fit about 300 or so words of talk track into your two-minute video (and it’s less for a video with on-screen text). We know that’s not a lot, but when combined with quality art and animation, you still can say a lot.

Advertisers create persuasive commercials that run just 30 seconds.

TV and radio journalists present coherent new stories in 60 seconds or so.

And visual storytellers like us combine compelling narratives with meaningful design and animation that explain your product, service, process, plan, idea, or story in just 120 seconds or so.

Here’s our two-minute take on “The Science of Gratitude”: 

 Research shows that two minutes, about what that gratitude video runs, is, in fact, the “sweet spot”:

“Engagement is steady up to 2 minutes, meaning that a 90-second video will hold a viewer’s attention as much as a 30-second video. This is surprising and actionable information for video marketers. If you’re making short videos, you don’t need to stress about the difference of a few seconds. Just keep it under 2 minutes…

After 2 minutes, every second counts. This is where the exponential decay kicks in. This isn’t to say that you should cut a 10-minute video down to 2 minutes — some content warrants longer videos — but it does suggest that you’d be better off cutting 30 seconds from a 2-minute 30-second video to keep viewers’ attention.” Ezra Fishman, Wistia

Longer videos don’t guarantee people will flee—but the video had better be super engaging or at the very least, exactly what the viewer was looking for. Case in point: our “The Sugary Truth” video is more than four-and-a-half minutes long, but for people who want to learn more about the dangers of added sugars, that’s OK. It’s approaching 400,000 views now.

The beauty behind explainer videos


In the world of video animation, explainer videos are among the most powerful, highly searched, and compelling formats. We’ve been saying this for a while, and we believe it more and more every day.

There are a few different types of explainer videos:

  • The ‘Did You Know?’ video: helps people understand something complex—at a high level or in detail

  • Benefits video: brings to life what you’ll realize or experience by using or doing something

  • Demo video: walks through specific features or components, or how something actually works

  • “How to” video: provides guided instruction on using or doing something

  • Testimonial video: gives proof (and praise) that that something works as advertised

  • FAQ video: answers common or anticipated questions about something—before they’re asked

The beauty in this variety of videos is that they can educate and entertain at the same time. Of course, you might lean more heavily in one direction or the other based on your need and your audience, but a good explainer video sells itself at the same time it sells whatever you’re selling.

And as much as we want everyone to come to us for animated infographic videos, the truth is that with a bit of effort you can make your own! We’ve talked about how Apple Keynote is actually a pretty good way to create animated video, but there are many animation movie maker apps out there, and even ways to create animation online. Go on and Google a phrase like “how to create an animated video” and try it yourself.

But if you want a deeply experienced, creative, and collaborative team to help you, we encourage you to learn more about our animation services. It’s our job to make complex ideas understandable and engaging, and to… …oh heck—see for yourself in this explainer video we made for ourselves!

 The point is we’ve written, storyboarded, illustrated, and animated visual stories and explainer videos for customers ranging from Fortune 100s to universities, and from non-profits to startups. We’ve immersed ourselves in topics like healthcare, technology, education, bioscience, leadership, hospitality, wellness… well, you name it. Get in touch today and we’ll help you explain your complex idea!