In 2017, during the peak of the “pivot to video” craze, I worked as an editor for a digital publication. This movement began with a big restructure at MTV to focus on video and de-emphasizing long-form journalism. After a few studies made hyperbolic claims about the no-fail success of video, newsrooms and media companies around the world downsized their writing staff and “pivoted” to video, without much regard to video strategy, content editing, or what actually makes a good video.
And it was a bad idea. Here’s some research to back up my strike-down of the pivot-to-video strategy:
But we’re past that now. We all learn from our mistakes, right?
For many publishers and websites, this failure in video strategy has led to a fear of it. But video can work well, especially in platforms that are controlled by you, like your own website! On Facebook you’re beholden to the algorithms that are determined by Facebook; on your website, you determine how, when, and why your audience interacts with video.
Note: the image above is from the WordPress theme The Ken. If you’re looking for WordPress themes that are designed with background video in mind, check out video background WordPress themes on Themeforest.
How to Use Video Backgrounds on Your Website
Video backgrounds are one of the most popular ways to incorporate video into a website. It’s (usually) not overbearing, especially if you add a video that is uncluttered. I recommend reading this article from Unbounce, Do Video Backgrounds Help or Hurt Conversions?, which uses data to back up their claims about video backgrounds.
According to Unbounce, video backgrounds work well if you avoid distractions, and make sure it’s easy to read (like increasing the contrast if you have text on top of a video). Unbounce also recommends a short, looping video of 5-10 seconds, with no audio.
The TEDxMelbourne website is a great example of compelling background music. Best experienced on their website, tedxmelbourne.com.
Video can be a great way in increase engagement on websites. According to an article in Forbes, embedding videos in landing pages can increase conversion by up to 80%, and 90% of customers say that watching a video about a product helps their purchasing decision.
Why Stock Video?
You might instinctively shy away from using stock footage. But increasingly, stock photos and videos are created by professional photographers and videographers. Using them is a great way to get a professional result at a fraction of the price–ideal, especially if you’re looking for a 5-10 second clip for a background.
Here’s a roundup of standout stock video that would be ideal for websites:
Stock Footage: Food
For food bloggers, restaurants, and recipe websites.
Many stock video libraries are plagued with cheesy, staged videos of “beautiful woman does [activity]”. Here’s one of those–she even gives, for some reason, a thumbs up at the end. But, I think it’s fun to watch–maybe for use in a somewhat ironic way?
Stock Footage: Space
This whole section is dedicated to the work of SpaceStockFootage, who has an incredible portfolio of nearly 300 space-themed stock video. Is it computer-generated, or is SpaceStockFootage in a spacecraft somewhere above the earth, uploading stock video on Elements from afar? We’ll never know!*