How They Work

We all know that in the current difficult economic climate one of the few places that is truly safe for business is the internet, with internet billionaires ranging from the co-founders of Google to the leaders of China’s largest dating agency – it’s quite clear that there are some big bucks to be made online. And a tool for doing that is through the explainer video.

However, just setting up an online business isn’t enough, any business person knows that a key aspect of making money is marketing and promotion; this blog aims to assess the various ways in which some of the world’s biggest internet businesses have utilized explainer videos to promote, market and inform others about their business.

We’ll begin with the big kahuna itself;


When Google’s internet hosting window Chrome was introduced, the company produced a number of informational clips to help users make the transition from Internet Explorer and Firefox. Adverts showing off features and promoting the software as the new, fast, safe and sleek provider were abundant.

One of the first explainer videos produced by Google to promote their new browser was this one, titled “Evolution of Simple”, the simple animation uses the Chrome logo and tool bar to symbolize the simplicity of the new browser; building the individual aspects of the image to reveal the skeleton of a basic but efficient web browser.

It’s not just adverts in the traditional sense that were used however, videos that detailed how to use specific tools were also produced, which not only gave the company the opportunity to promote and show off their handy work but actually helped users become more familiar with the new piece of software.

Other world renowned companies like the online store Amazon have used videos to help with their customer services; in a world where most people are computer literate but languages and other literacy vary greatly using videos to asset with customer service problems is an excellent way to reach broad audiences with little work.

Check out Amazon UK’s Customer Service Videos page.

The page includes a handful of examples that cover the companies most frequently asked questions and customer service issues. The use of voice over gives the web user a familiar feeling, as though they are being helped directly by an individual. The example clip also demonstrates a step by step guide as to how exactly users can complete certain tasks.

A lot of the early success of Dropbox came down to its ease of use and being able to just explain that through an explainer video.

A lot of the early success of Dropbox came down to its ease of use and being able to just explain that through an explainer video.

Yahoo’s Videos

Similarly Yahoo Mail1 provides a video tour of their email service, demonstrating how to send emails and highlighting the different display options available to users. Such tutorial videos are becoming more and more popular with global sites as they can be produced for a low cost and reach a broad audience.

By visually demonstrating how users can complete tasks the websites also improve customer relations, ensuring that even the most simple of tasks is displayed in an straight forward and easy to follow fashion without appearing patronizing or overly complicated.

Interestingly the aforementioned Yahoo and Amazon have both elected to keep their video tutorials well hidden within their websites; unlike Google who has proudly promoted its own growth and new technologies through the use of its personal YouTube page2.

Using Explainer Videos For Product Reviews

Product reviews and knowledge sharing is another great use of explaining through video in the business of internet services, often individuals produce their own unofficial product reviews and tutorials, some bloggers reaching millions of viewers with their posts, whilst a number of companies have utilized the tool themselves – allowing professionals or even staff and team members to try out, experiment with and review their products. A great example of this is in the world of film and television reviews where big studios like Warner Brothers and DreamWorks provide well known reviewers with advanced copies of their releases solely so that the individual can review them on their YouTube channel or personal website.

Brit Mark Kermode has done this in conjunction with the work with BBC TV and radio whilst other reviewers have chosen to stick with the more traditional production of text reviews. Product review videos are often effective because not only do they provide viewers with an individual perspective but, unlike text reviews, can also include demonstrations or excerpts from the product itself.

Videos run by companies like Vanish, VO5 and TechCrunch3 have used videos posted by their users online to promote their various products. The Vanish video is both a product review and demonstration and acts as an opportunity for a brand to become identified by individual users and their positive experiences rather than promotional copy written for purpose.

Other big businesses have utilized videos to help give their brand a face and recognisable identity in common society; as well as using easily recognisable voiceovers in their TV adverts, UK grocery giant Tesco has produced several videos that detail information about individual stores, schemes and promotions that are only released online.

More Examples

One such video (see below) gives viewers a behind the scenes view of Tesco and highlights the various contributions made by the company at large; such efforts allow shoppers to see the individual faces and positive contributions behind the vast corporation. Often condemned for its facelessness and large national presence such videos serve to counteract protestations.

However not all companies have caught on, despite reams of explainer videos produced by individuals swarming the internet and demonstrating various aspects of the eBay site, the online auctioneers have decided to stick to text tutorials and the occasional TV advertising campaigns to promote themselves.

Why some businesses have failed to see the potential of online explainer video promotion is reflected in their sales and customer service records, creating brand awareness, personal familiarity and trusted knowledge sharing are three well known areas of marketing and yet some businesses choose to ignore the potential of advertising and promoting on the world’s largest and fastest growing commodity.

Marketing Tools

This phenomenon continues to work effectively as a marketing tool for both online and traditional businesses. The language and manner of such videos has become so popular that companies often now use them to directly inspire or inform their advertising campaigns. Though some changes from the traditional idea of an explainer video have occurred during this transition the following adverts for the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX’s new MayDay button shows how both the video concept and the traditions of television advertising can be combined to create effective marketing strategies.

Another off-shoot of the explainer video which has made use of some aspects of the phenomenon is the review or tutorial video; as one of the most preferred mutation of the original video type for companies and marketing experts such videos appeal as in many cases the videos are often produced by customers or fans without the company needing to spend any money whatsoever.

Review Videos

Fanatic review videos and tutorials appear in abundance on the internet, particularly for the more innovative and popular technological or electronic products; the production of such videos by customers – particularly when the feedback is positive – is free advertising for companies. Other companies choose to utilize this idea by employing professional reviewers to create tutorial or review videos for popular websites and online magazines, not only do these videos demonstrate the uses of an individual product but they also often critique them or compare them to their rivals – when a reviewer is employed by a company to produce a positive explainer video or review they are often tasked with highlighting particular aspects of a product, perhaps demonstrating how to use a particularly troublesome tool or to highlight the versatility of particular products.

Other adverts have used similar ideas to those of explainer and demonstration videos, including this advert for the new Lenovo Yoga tablet3, starring Ashton Kutcher the advert plays on the idea of beta testing products, something that mass audiences have become more and more familiar with thanks to explainer videos.

Many videos are not suitable for airing on television however, without the generous time available to infomercials many clips become lost in the detritus of other adverts. Tailoring your video to the time and place at which you intend to screen it (whether it be as part of a blog, as an introductory segment to a website or at a tradeshow) ensures that each video is likely to reach the majority of its potential audience.

Unfortunately, many companies stumble and fail when attempting to produce true masterpieces; where the lines between advertising and explainer videos has become thinnest many companies find that what they hope to be viewed as an marketing piece often mutates into a demonstration, tutorial or advert. For those considering utilizing these videos as marketing tool it is important to be aware of the clear differences between these various methods.

The key to creating a proper company video is simply that they explain to viewers the benefits and key aspects of both a companies individual products as well as their overall manifesto. Such videos often include a call to action from the company, charging the viewer with a task to complete, a petition to sign or perhaps a trial to download once they have finished watching.

When utilized effectively these marketing tools can be an incredibly affective and cost effective way of introducing new products or highlighting economic or intellectual concepts to new audiences. Those who are drawn to these videos are often those with a keen sense of curiosity, those who wish to know more about the product they are being offered than can be conveyed in a simple advert.

The key to a successful and well produced clip is simplicity; videos remain short, any narration kept to a concise minimum and often the handcrafted graphics and design of such videos is reduced to keep the viewers and clients attention on the information they are receiving rather than the video itself. The focus in an increase in conversions for the product. An increased conversion is money that can be saved in the future on marketing.

Whiteboard animated editions make excellent explainer videos, the simplicity yet cute, innovative and imaginative appearance of their design work well alongside the clarity and versatility of the normal quality.

For those considering creating, or employing an illustrator, freelancer or videographer to create an explainer video for their company or product there are a number of influential factors that they must first be aware of. Firstly it is of great importance that business owners and entrepreneurs are aware of the message or concept they wish to explain in their video; often ideas that those corporations and those in-the-know feel very comfortable with will be difficult or alienating to external audiences.

The Key

The key to ensuring that your video and the message inherent in it can be understood by the widest possible audience is often in the script or storyboard. Using accessible voice-over talent and reputable custom graphic designers, professional editor services and visual artists may at first appear costly, however it is often more helpful to spend a little upfront than to find your final product an ineffective and un-useable device. For those who do find themselves in this position there are freelance artists and companies who will take on already completed videos and re-edit, alter and improve them where necessary.

Another key aspect to explainer videos is individuality; producing a video with a clear message that includes a company logo or intellectual signature often ensures that the finished product is more memorable than those presented by the competition. Whilst often the most popular explainer videos include interactive elements that allow people in the audience to experience tools first hand or explore concepts directly.

One of the most challenging aspects of creation is not their production but rather the successful distribution of them online; many users will be put off by intrusive popups on apps or in websites promoting products or services; however explainer videos can be particularly effective when used in conjunction with other advertising and promotional tools. Websites who distribute monthly newsletters often include explainer videos as part of this package; these videos can be created fairly quickly and used to deliver company or industry relevant news and explain upcoming changes or updates that may occur for particular products. Other videos can be published in response to questions asked by users or customers on forums, these videos can contain how-to aspects of explanation as well as teaching those who are unfamiliar with specific aspects of a product.

In Summary

Ultimately explainer videos, if constructed and utilized properly can be extremely effective and accessible marketing tools, however when done badly they have the potential to do more harm than good. By investing in an experienced professional businesses often find that audiences respond well to such content and that even more than that, that one well produced piece of media can often do the work of multiple advertising campaigns, as the nature of the content within them often remains relevant to future products or changes in technology – in essence, companies can create a single explainer video that highlights the overall benefits and morals of their work rather than several adverts for individual products.
Please contact us at the top of the page if you have any questions. We are here to help, and would love to hear from you.


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