Jun 162015

You do it. I do it. We’re all watching more video on small screens–on our mobile phones or tablets. Lots of it is stuff that shows up in our social networks. My Facebook feed is overrun by cat videos, and I know I’m not alone; a new study says watching them is a guaranteed mood lifter. But what about news video?

AJ+In my experience, most online/mobile news video is simply repurposed TV news. Nothing wrong with that, but nothing innovative either. News video designed specifically for a mobile or online audience is rare, which is why I sat up and took notice when I ran across AJ+.

A YouTube channel produced by Al Jazeera, AJ+ describes itself as “a global news community for the connected generation.” It’s definitely news with an attitude. This piece on Jeb Bush’s announcement of his candidacy for president is a good example of where AJ+ is coming from.

Snark aside, AJ+ is making an effort to be different by design. Its stories are a mix of video, still photos, nat sound, music, and graphics, with no narration. Source material often comes from social media, as in this piece about Muslim girls at a Belgian school.

I think the approach works really well on a small screen, and the fact that it’s noticeably different from TV suggests it should be more successful on mobile than a story produced for air. What makes me say that? New research from Google.

Working with the ad agency BBDO, Google tested three versions of a video ad to see which one would hold viewers the longest. All three got about the same result on desktops, but the longest version–90 seconds compared to the 30-second TV original–worked much better on mobile. Have a look:

Google’s conclusion? “The unexpected can be powerful…We shouldn’t just stuff our stories into smaller frames; we can make new frames altogether.”

What new frames are you ready to make?


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