June 30, 2015

Do I really NEED an explainer video? The Pros and Cons

Ah, pros and cons lists. The best friend of the blog writer, the secret lover of the indecisive, and the arch enemy of people who hate trying to draw straight lines on a pad of paper. We could sit here all day and talk about the pros and cons of pros and cons lists, but that would be ironically counterproductive. Instead, let’s look at something that could potentially be useful for your product or business: explainer videos.

By now you’ve probably heard of explainers, or even heard them being descried as an essential sales tool for your website or advertising campaign. But is there truth to the hype, and are there other options better suited to your business? Today we’ll be fossicking out the truth by looking at the pros and cons of explainer videos when pitted against three other alternatives: text, stylised video ads, and no explainers at all.

1. explainers vs no explainers


An explainer video, as you might expect, visually explains a complex product or company message in an easy to understand way, usually involving a call to action at the end. If you need a way to convince your clients of your product’s worth in a quick, straightforward medium, explainers are the way to go.

After all, we’re all aware by now that people are lazy, and trying to understand a new concept takes a large amount of effort that could otherwise be used to, I don’t know, click a mouse button, or inhale. Providing potential clients with a video that does all the necessary explaining caters to this widespread need for simplification in the most direct way possible.


Explainer videos cost money and/or time to make. Not developing an explainer will save the initial cost of video production along with the time you may have spent communicating with the production company to tailor your company’s message in just the right way (though many production houses do have an adjustable level of creative involvement, and can often handle the entire development process if you want to save your company the development time).

In the long run though, you may want to consider whether not using an explainer risks your new company or product being misunderstood, overlooked or passed by due to potential clients’ lack of understanding.

2. explainers vs text information


Videos are statistically paid a much greater amount of attention and absorbed better than text info. To reiterate the above: most people have short attention spans. And yes, you’re currently reading this in a text-based article, so maybe you’re one of the exceptions. Maybe you’re simultaneously checking your phone, playing an online game, updating your company’s website, or pinning that cute handmade clay wolf necklace to your Pinterest board. Or maybe you’re just procrastinating from work. Either way.

Imagine how much more attention you’d be paying to this one task if it were a quick and engaging animated video. You’d be absorbing dynamic visuals, audio, and would be less likely to switch between browser tabs in case you missed something.

In fact, statistically you’d be likely to stay on this site two minutes longer than someone not viewing video. In internet minutes that’s a damn long time, all during which you’re taking in the company brand, image, information, and already forming opinions on what this company can offer you as a client.


Similar to the Con in #1, explainers come with a price tag, while there’s little to no up-front cost to your company to develop text for your website. It can be developed in-house or written by a professional copywriter for a comparatively smaller fee than video production, requires no specialised software, and can be edited and instituted on your website with relative ease.

But again, if you’re looking at the big picture for your company your main concern will likely be with grabbing and keeping potential clients’ interest for the long term. In fact, the only statistic you should need to convince you this isn’t really a con is this: Retail site visitors who view video are 64% more likely to purchase than other site visitors. (Source: Invodo)

3. explainers vs stylised ads


Explainers are tailored to simplifying a complex product or company message, while more stylised advertisements operate by creating a mood and appealing to emotions. In terms of persuasive media, stylised ads exploit pathos, while explainers take a more logical, objective route.

If you have a new product or company, the advantage of working with an explainer is that you’re far less likely to turn away potential customers using a straightforward logical approach than by using particular emotional campaigns which won’t appeal to everyone’s subjective tastes. Furthermore, if you’re advertising a brand new product or business which people aren’t familiar with, a purely stylised campaign risks confusing the audience rather than explaining the benefits of what you have to offer the way an explainer would.


Stylised ads are a mainstay of particular product genres. Take for example perfume: an upmarket product which is simple to use and requires no explanation. Highly produced, moody ads such as this are common among the perfume industry because of the need to think of the product as an unessential but desirable luxury item. “If I only had this perfume then maybe I’D live in a giant glass box, reminiscing about the time I was in the middle of the desert with a giant wind machine, too. Sigh.”

Same goes for luxury cars, tourism and, strangely, jeans. The other product category this can apply to is goods whose media presence is heavily regulated, such as alcoholic beverages. Ever wonder why highly funded but completely nonsensical ads like Carlton Draught’s ‘Big Ad’ are the norm for beer companies? It’s because of the strict regulations forbidding beer ads to actually talk about alcohol, in any kind of positive contributory way. These regulations apply to internet advertising as well as television, making it difficult to construct an explainer for a beer company without really talking about, well… beer.


By looking at the pros and cons it’s clear that explainer videos aren’t going to be the best option for everyone. However, the evidence that they’re a great option for many businesses is compelling, as explainers are evidently a powerful tool for drawing in and keeping more customers at your company website, for longer. Like with any service, it all comes down to the individual needs of your company and your current sales strategy: whether it’s explaining a new service, making people feel good about buying perfume, or simply describing the pros and cons of your company’s products.

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Written by
Maree Railton

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