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What is an explainer video?

An explainer video is a short video that introduces an idea in a simple and engaging way, typically using clear and concise text over moving and/or still images, animations and graphics.

Explainer videos vary in length and number of slides, however, a short explainer video will usually consist of 10-12 slides and will last for about 1 minute.

They attempt to get behind the news to give the reader background information about a story to ensure that they can properly understand events as they unfold.

Explainer journalism specializes in the “why” and “how,” so that the “who, what, when, where” make more sense. The aim is not just to deliver the latest news but to increase the number of people who understand the story well enough to follow future developments in it.

It maybe a new concept but its roots run deep in traditional journalism. In the days before the web, media would often run stories explaining what is happening in the news the following day or at the weekend. Once the web threw the traditional timetables of journalism out of the window, explainer articles have become published as fast as possible after a news story breaks.

Why do explainer videos work so well?

  • Depth in short time: Most often explainer videos analyse complicated issues. To explain the same issues in other journalistic forms you would probably need hundreds or thousands of words or many minutes of television time, which probably the audience woudn’t be willing to share with you.

  • SEO visibility: Explainer videos attractsearch engine traffic too as some readers may be asking ‘Why’ type questions. It can also mean that the media source gets additional traffic from Google News which tends to find space on its opening pages for explainer style content alongside the basic news stories.

  • Visually engaging: It doesn’t have to be just words. Data can also be illustrated in infographics, while videos summarising tricky concepts can be shot or produced quickly and easily. People are simply more prone to click on a three minute video rather than 800 words.

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