Viewer Abandonment and the Steven Spielberg Approach

Everyone remembers the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark, culminating with Indy’s footrace against a giant rolling boulder…but fewer people remember this: the opening to Spielberg’s rather forgettable romantic comedy Always. Still, it’s interesting to note how he attempts the same feat with both openings: to grab viewer attention right away with a big or surprising scene. In Raiders, it both thrilled audiences and defined the hero’s character. Here, well, it just looked kinda cool.

Sure, this scene goes on for almost a minute, but the movie lasts over two hours. Proportionally, that equals barely a second of a two minute video. It’s the direct equivalent of starting out with an amazing first image, a startling situation, or a surprising twist of casting. And it’s well worth emulating. Filmed Brand Content either plays in forced viewing media like pre-roll where conditioned viewers understand they have five to fifteen seconds to wait or in pure earned media where viewers owe you nothing. Either way, you have no time for backstory or slow set-ups. Certainly not when you are battling the omnipresent FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that is so endemic to the web. Every non-rewarding moment allows viewers to suspect there’s probably something better a click or two away.

And they’re usually right.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

2 thoughts on “Viewer Abandonment and the Steven Spielberg Approach

  1. dennisr61684 says:

    Fair point Hanley. And it should be obvious, but I’d argue it’s not. Too many online clips still dawdle in the set up, still assume they enjoy the attention of viewers. Similarly, too many go on too long — Jason Sudeikis’ NBC Soccer promo is hilarious but at 4:42, even he overstays his welcome.

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