Why You Need to Nail Those First 8 Seconds in Your Video

We’ve all heard the famous stat by now: our attention spans have reached a new low, averaging eight seconds compared to the eternally distractible goldfish, that supposedly have attention spans a whole second longer than ours.

Though the myth has been virtually debunked (thanks to bad research and weak sources), the concept at play here still holds truer than ever – if you want your marketing to be effective, you have to capture your audience’s attention as soon as possible.

And that really has nothing to do with our short attention spans, but with the sheer volume of marketing content we’re bombarded with on a daily basis.

Think about it. How many brands do you see in a single day? We’re talking Facebook ads, commercials, billboards, radio segments, sponsored links, even brand labels and brand packaging in the supermarket, and more. Take a guess.

The answer? We’re exposed to well over 5,000 brands a day. Every day.

According to a 2014 study, we’re specifically exposed to 362 “ads” a day, of which we can actively recognize 86, and of which we engage with 12. That’s staggering! And that means making your video ad stand out from the rest is going to be more difficult than you possibly imagined.

How can you get started on the right foot? Focus on those crucial first eight seconds of your video.

But why are those 8 seconds so impactful?

In order for an ad to be successful, it’s got to do two things: engage and persuade.

Your video’s first eight seconds are its best chance at engaging before your user moves on to their next piece of content. Then, whatever remaining time your video’s got left is your opportunity to persuade your user toward purchase.

Especially on sites where tons of ads are shown, ad blindness quickly takes over. On your Facebook Feed, videos ads are only watched for an average of 5.7 seconds.

Here what television ad expert Joan FitzGerald told AdExchanger about the effectiveness of long digital ads:

On digital platforms, marketers and digital ad platforms long ago realized that commercials lasting 30 seconds – or even 15 – are non-starters in most contexts… Digital ad platforms saw that they had to go shorter or give consumers more options, such as skip buttons, to control the experience to retain their audience.

Basically, if you’re not capturing your audience in your video’s first eight seconds, you aren’t capturing them at all.

How to Nail Your Video’s First 8 Seconds

You’re nervous. Eight seconds isn’t long and communicating your brand message in 30 seconds is hard enough – how do you boil down everything you want to say into just eight seconds?

Well, for starters, you don’t. Those first eight seconds are crucial, but don’t take that to mean you have to say it all and make it stick in just that short amount of time. Instead, focus on what’ll really grab your audience’s attention in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

Luckily, we’ve got a little experience making videos. We’ve got a few handy tips we use time and time again to nail those first eye-catching seconds.

1. Focus on the visuals.

You’ve only got a few seconds, so before thinking about your script or your tagline or your voiceover, focus on the one thing that can actually make a big impact fast: your visuals.

Whatever your video is about, it’s got to do one big thing – stop your audience from scrolling. Use bright colors, movement, close-ups, happy faces, and more to surprise and shock your viewer so they literally stop scrolling and start watching. Once you know you’ve got their attention, you can give your message more focus.

2. Boil down what you offer into one sentence.

Your video can obviously be longer than one single sentence, but boiling down your brand mission or product/service offering into one clear and direct sentence is a great exercise. Not only does it make for a more focused video, but if you struggle to get it down that short, it could be a sign that your mission needs some refining.

Here are a few questions you can answer to boil down your message in a short and succinct way.

  • What’s the one thing you want your audience to remember about you?
  • How does your product or service solve a problem for your viewer?
  • What does your product or service do?
  • How is what you offer any different than what’s offered by your direct competition?
  • What do your best customers love about your brand?

3. Use text to communicate, not sound!

Remember, people scroll their feeds and their browsers with the sound off. Don’t expect people to ever stop, tap or click on your video, listen to the audio, and then decide whether or not they’re interested.

Don’t get us wrong – sound is a crucial element of any video. But don’t rely on sound solely to get your message across, because users don’t have the time to pay attention to what your video is saying. Instead, tell them what they can’t hear with captions, text, or other informative word graphics. Not only do graphics and text grab a user’s attention (when’s the last time you looked at a word without reading it?), but they’re an effective way to give your audience more information in a more memorable way.

4. Use shock and awe.

Nothing stops a scroll faster than a WTF reaction. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Think creatively about something weird, strange, outrageous, or curiosity-inducing that you can use in your video to captivate your viewers right away. It might be a weird spokes-thing (Gritty’s our favorite), something totally unrecognizable, or an unnerving situation – anything that makes you go, what in the world…?

An advertisement from Mobile Monkey
Source: AdEspresso

Here’s one of our favorite examples from mattress company Purple. If the thumbnail alone doesn’t make you stop, the fast intro to two fighting sumo wrestlers might.

5. Don’t forget effects.

Effects are a great way to captivate, especially when you don’t have the biggest budget for actors, locations, creative setup, and more. With the right video effects, you can use a simple video, even stock footage or text-only videos, to create a beautiful and engaging piece of content that’ll help you attract the attention you deserve.

Take a look at what we did with this social video for Cheryl Saban Designs. We used just a few scenes of b-roll and tied it together with a few fade-ins, fade-outs, some text, and more. We also played with bold color and blurring effects to create something unique that relied mostly on effects along with beautiful footage of the product to draw viewers in and keep them engaged for the entire video.


When creating your next video, don’t focus on your audience’s short attention spans – focus instead on how you’ll deliver a message that’ll resonate more strongly than the messages delivered by over 360 other brands daily.

The best way to do that? Captivate your audience from the very beginning. Use everything at your disposal, including visuals, effects, text, and more to pull your viewer in. Whatever your hook is, go all in and, after those essential first few seconds, take a deeper dive into what your brand or company is all about.

Laura Cueva

Laura Cueva