A New Species: Video Infographics

Let’s be honest, we can easily get bored reading too much text.  And it can be difficult to follow lots of numbers and statistics. To overcome this, we can use illustrations, flowcharts and graphs to make information visually appealing and easier to understand. This is the original appeal of infographics despite their frequent abuse.

 

Infographics are graphical representations of data and information.  No matter what data they represent, at their core, they are still stories.  Sadly, the stereotypical infographic often consists of long lists of incomprehensible text (!), numerous graphs and over-elaborate flowcharts - all of which could easily be transformed into a moving tale that captures the imagination.  With the right ingredients in place and a design “wizard” in charge, infographics can be reinvigorated as video - turning a now tired and ineffective medium into an effective communication tool, capable of conveying a concrete message.

REALISING A GOLDEN OPPORTUNIY | VISA

 

VISA is a great example of using video to tell a story to a specific audience and they were certainly smart to jump on the London 2012 bandwagon. Taking their former infographic, they produced the video above for the VISA London Economic Outlook from VISA Europe showing a summary of the Olympics impact report.

Your immediate response may be to reject the idea of speaking with video rather than visual. Why would you need to turn your infographics into videos? Why do you need to spend more time and more money to turn something that’s already working into something else? But, are you sure your infographics in their current state are working as well as they could? By turning your infographics into videos you could:

  1. Transform a non-working media piece to an effective one.
  2. Repurpose information to generate more links and social activity
  3. Tell a clearer, more direct story.

They say an image is worth of a thousand words; a moving image has 25 pictures per second, you do the maths!

It’s not a question of better; it’s a question of different - and who wouldn’t want to be able to build two products from the same ingredients?!

Of course, there are times where it’s simply not possible to turn all the information that a static infographic holds into video. Sometimes what works well on paper or on a static frame does not translate equally well onto a moving screen. The whole idea of video infographics is not to replace the static infographic medium, but to be used as an additional tool to reach places the static one cannot go.  If it looks like a lot of extra work to turn your entire infographic into motion, you could consider just animating only one section of it. Try to choose the one which is the most difficult to comprehend, the one you think (due to its complicated context) is more likely to turn viewers off. Or, why not try to use video as a compliment to your infographic. Make them work together!

EVOLUTION OF F1

 

Here is an infographic animation created by Rufus Blacklock of his info-graphic Evolution of the F1 Car.

Designers are often animators, and animators once started as designers; they come from the same family. They’ve probably studied in the same colleges, more than likely have the same interests, and most definitely speak the same language. Most of them, if not all, use the same software; or software that can speak and work with each other. Adobe’s Creative Suite with its vast collection of applications, covers pretty much all the content creation bases.

A MARKETER’S GUIDE TO PINTEREST

 

The Marketer’s Guide to Pintrest info-graphic video from MDG Advertising illustrates this hot new trend with this video that builds on their static info-graphic Pin It To Win It!

 RHINOS BY THE NUMBER

 

 A cool info-graphic from Earth-Touch.com, Rhinos By The Numbers tells a good story about the plight of rhinos and their struggle against poachers in Africa.

On a practical note:

Adobe AfterEffects is probably one of the easiest software packages to use to create a video infographic. As the majority of illustrators and designers are using the Adobe Suite, you will have no problem getting their assets into the software.

There are lots of editing and compositing software that can turn your static assets into video.  I’m choosing After Effects because:

  1. It works equally well on both Mac and PC,
  2. It’s part of the Adobe Creative Suite, which is used by the majority of creatives
  3. It’s a platform of both simple and sophisticated tools.

AfterEffects let you deliver visual effects and motion graphics at an incredible speed. It works with layers either in two dimensions (x, y) or three dimensions (x, y, z), the same way that Photoshop and Illustrator do. Open your design files and save each individual layer separately, labelling them with sequential numbers that later can be used as a guide when recreating them in After Effects.

The standard dimensions for video are either 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720. As the Internet can now hold full HD videos I would recommend you to work on the 1920 x 1080 platform. Design files often vary in sizes.  You can import your files directly into After Effects and re-adjust them inside the software.  However, if you work with many layers that each need to be a different size to create depth illusions, it’s a better idea to open a Photoshop or Illustrator file, place all your elements in their exact position and size and then save them again as individual layers.

While in AfterEffects, it’s a good idea to place your layers in order of appearance, that way you keep everything tidy and easy to navigate. After you’ve decided how things will appear on screen, you’re ready to start animating. You can use the transformation tools, to adjust scale, position, rotate and adjust the transparency of your elements. There is also a library that includes a variety of stock affects you can use to enhance your animation. AfterEffects give you the ability to dismantle all stock effects and create something totally different. Rhythm and pace is always crucial to animation.  Try to find a track with a nice tempo and cut your video to the music. Dynamic cuts always bring energy and sparkle to your video. 

There are hundreds of tutorials online that can introduce you to the basic concepts of working with AfterEffects and hundreds more to show you the complexities and sophistication available within the software. For a great solid start, you can begin with the Adobe guide that goes through everything you need to know before you start working with AfterEffects.

We’re are also about to launch the downloadable Distilled Guide to Online Video Marketing. Sign up now to get access to this resource as soon as it launches on the Distilled Training page and start successfully integrating video into your marketing plan. 

@MargaritaIosif

 

Margarita Iosif

Margarita Iosif

Margarita joined the Distilled team under the role of video editor and animator. She came from a varied creative background including working as a freelance filmmaker/designer in many productions around London. Initially from Cyprus, she have moved...   read more

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19 Comments

  1. I find this idea great. I just think there aren't a ton of places where users click on a video that's why infographics are so great. They just show the information with a glance. I did like the videos though so maybe I would click some of them.

    reply >
    • margarita-iosif

      Hello Riley,
      I think video infographics can be a great addition to infographics. Video infographics can engage better with the viewer and project a clearer, more complete view of the data research.
      Thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

  2. Ian

    Hi Margarita. Great post.

    I'm interested to know if presenting infographics in a video format over a graphic one has actually had an impact on social shares and links. Have you seen any evidence of video performing better ?

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  3. This is mind blowing! I usually get bored after checking 1-3 facts on the infographic. Addition of video explaining the infographic gives a new and fresh perspective.

    @Ian - I think they always need to be shared together.

    reply >
    • margarita-iosif

      Hello Max,
      Thank you! I think if they combine together, they can produce very effective results!
      Thank you for your comment!

  4. Excellent idea, and we have an animator in-house as we've just started a new division :D

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  5. It's a nice idea, but you need to be mega careful that in creating the video content, you don't nuke any chances you had of getting links - which is ultimately the reason behind doing this.

    For example; All of the examples you give are hosted on YouTube. Now, YouTube offers one of the most (if not THE most) integrated and supported sharing capabilities of any platform out there.

    As well as watching videos on YouTube itself, you can also view them directly on both Facebook and Twitter. YouTube also offer a huge number of sharing facilities for video content including shortlinks and allowing the user to send the video primed to start playing from any point they wish.

    All of this combined makes YouTube a powerhouse in easy and digestible sharable content.

    And that's not to mention the simple fact that people tend to both enjoy and absorb info better through video content.

    Therefore given the choice, most people will wish to share video content over a huge infographic - no matter how awesome it is.

    Here then, you have a problem: All the people that share the video on YouTube are lost opportunities of getting both links and social interaction with your target website.

    Taking the "Evolution of the F1 Car" infographic as a quick example;

    Original Source

    The original location of the infographic had 9 comments on the post, no links and no social sharing.

    The infographic got picked up just 4 times elsewhere, but never linked back to the source.

    The original location of the video did a little better with 41 comments, but still no links or social shares.

    YouTube/Vimeo

    Now let's compare this to the video platforms of YouTube and Vimeo where the video have been hosted.

    On YouTube the video has to date gained a massive 154,771 views, 71 comments, 1,163 likes and favorited 628 times.

    It was also embedded on 9 other websites including Facebook.com, Motorpasionf1.com and Autorevue.cz.

    On YouTube the video has to date gained a colossal 824,000 views, 56 comments and 2,635 likes.

    It has also been embedded on over 10 websites (only the top 10 are displayed) including Topgear.com, Gigazine.net and Engadget.com.

    Conclusion

    While the infographic itself seems to have been a bit of a flop, the video received massive coverage.

    That said, the whole campaign was a massive failure in terms of SEO and social coverage of Rufus Blacklock's website.

    Given the choice of a video and an infographic, the public have adopted the video with greater enthusiasm as expected. This then resulted in all of the coverage being gained via YouTube and Vimeo. These hosting platfor... [continued below]

    reply >
  6. [continued from above] ...ms stole all of the comments and social shares away from Rufus' own site.

    The sites that embedded the video (some of them huge - like Topgear.com!) are just wasted linking opportunities. They are linking to YouTube and hosting YouTube content, rather than linking to and hosting content from Rufus' website.

    Takeaway: Either do an infographic or video content. If you decide to do both, make damn sure you have a strategy in place to avoid wasted link opportunities!

    Love @PG_Martin x

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hey Paul,

      You make some valid points about the examples, but I don't think this invalidates the idea or the potential value.

      Rebuttal:

      Firstly, if the video infographics were created with SEO as the primary goal, there's several things that could have been done on the hosting and embedding front to ensure value passed back to the original page in question (check this post for more information - http://moz.com/blog/hosting-and-embedding-for-video-seo)

      Whether this wasn't done due to oversight or because the purpose was brand awareness rather than links, we can only guess.

      Secondly, having this kind of "viral" content may not always provide links directly from the graphic, but a lot of those examples can get contextual links alongside the video e.g. "this video EMBED was made by COMPANY LINK". With the stuxnet example, while the vimeo embed got 4879 links from 515 domains, the page with the original creation still accrued 9494 links from 248 domains - not bad!

      Thirdly - why Rufus Blacklock hasn't gone back to Topgear.com and and engadget and asked for an attribution link for his video is beyond me (probably because he's not interested in SEO)....but it would be a really easy win!

      And last of all, I don't think links are necessarily the only reason to engage in content like this. There's a lot of value to be had through referrals, brand awareness and generating notoriety for yourself. If you have an infographic that isn't performing - video could be a much better medium for the story. The video could be used to improve brand awareness, or it could be used for links - you just have to be smart about the implementation and the outreach.

      Unfortunately, I don't think there are many examples (that I'm aware of) of people doing this successfully, but the potential is certainly there.

  7. Hey Phil,

    Yeah, I agree with all you say and you pretty much sum up my point in your final comment: "Unfortunately, I don’t think there are many examples (that I’m aware of) of people doing this successfully".

    While video is one potential option to either integrate into an infographic strategy or be used to rekindle a failed infographic, no-one is very good at doing it as they don't approach it from the right SEO angle.

    I just fear your post stops short of telling people what they should be doing to make this work and might just nudge people into making videos just for the hell of it as they look cool... just how people make infographics for the hell of it now!

    reply >
  8. Awesome comments by Paul and Phil. Some of the examples here are really neat.

    Phil - a question for you. I read your article about video hosting options and self-hosting. You do great work but I still don't really get this. For example, SEOMoz's most recent WBF video link is this - http://seomoz-cdn.wistia.com/flash/embed_player_v2.0.swf?2012-06-01
    Isn't this just linking to Wistia so SEOMoz isn't getting any link value unless people link to the full article? Other than the data/analytics Wistia provides, how is this superior to YouTube?
    Thanks.

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hi Jason,

      Great question. I'll try to provide a good answer!

      SEOmoz aren't trying to get people to embed their video to build links, for two reasons. Firstly, not many people embed the videos anyway as the ultimate value is in the community and comments structure on the Moz blog, not separated away from this infrastructure. Secondly, SEOmoz don't need to build links. They have a domain authority of 98 and nothing particular they they need to rank for.

      If they were trying to build links through embeds however, then as you point out, their current framework isn't sufficient. They would have to customise the embed code to include a link back to Moz, rather than just using the standard version.

      The value for them is in the security the Wistia solution allows, restricting the content to their domain (although they don't always bother to utilize this part) and automatically submitting a video sitemap. SEOmoz are really hosting for the "ranking and rich snippets" model as detailed in that post. Now, they'll still get links off the back of the post, but to the post itself and the video in the context of the blog and wider discussion.

      So, in short - the security factors are why Wistia is better for moz in this instance. Note that they do also upload WBF to YouTube, but after the content has somewhat "lived out it's purpose" on the main blog.

  9. I actually don't dare for these. I'm too busy to sit around and watch videos that take their time to show me data I could see in a glance on a static infographic. I also study data that I see. I compare, contrast and review. Can't do that when it flashes past you and then is gone. I'd rather go watch TED.

    So I say, don't be a video infographic lemming.

    reply >
  10. Thanks for your response Phil. I think it's all starting to make sense now :) I'll have to go review your Slideshare presentation on this topic, which if anyone else would like it for reference is - http://www.slideshare.net/philnottingham/incorporating-video-into-your-link-building-strategy

    reply >
  11. Hey,

    i think it is a new thing to get back links. now we can make video info graphics and get some video marketing as well.

    Thank you

    reply >
  12. This is a brilliant way to diversify how information is presented. The only problem is that for a small business to make something in the style of the Pinterest infographic video would just cost too much...or would it?
    If any one has any ideas how an inforgraphic video could be made/outsourced so its cost was reasonable I would be VERY interested ;-)

    reply >
  13. Hey

    Nice article.I think through info graphics we can get good video marketing as well.
    Thanks for sharing.keep on working.

    Thank you

    Rick

    reply >

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