Huffington Post UK is the latest news outlet to make a move in the field of short-form video, announcing its commitment to a new 60-second "video news series".
The minute-long videos, called Mehdi's Minute, are published weekly on the Huffington Post's UK website, with host Mehdi Hasan, political director at the outlet, delivering an opinionated-slant on key political news events.
60-second videos is a strategy a number of outlets have taken with online video, such as Channel 4 News, which launched its daily minute-long video 460 earlier this month. Following our report on 460 we were also alerted to the use of 90-second videos by local news outlets as teasers for new newspaper editions.
Stephen Hull, executive editor of Huffington Post UK, said the idea of keeping the site's new videos to a minute-long length was something the team "felt instinctively" would work best.
Based on their own appetite for "snappy" content he said the team considered that readers would similarly prefer this approach,
But he added that Mehdi's Minute aims to offer something "different" from other outlets, and not be "a delivery of the new events as they happen". An example is embedded below:
By adopting a weekly production schedule, the videos take a more reflective style, as well as offering a "fun, characterful, irreverent take", he said.
"The key thing is it's got bags of character," he added.
The site has been trying out this formula for the past eight weeks, reporting viewing statistics of "more than 25,000 video plays on the AOL player", according to a press release.
And the production is low-cost, he added, supported by an existing "fantastic video team".
"Without a huge amount of investment and marketing [we] could make something really good quality, really relevant and really insightful," he said.
And "the turnaround time is really quick", he explained, with around half an hour spent filming, while "editing doesn't take much longer".
This means that while the focus is on following a weekly schedule of publishing a round-up of political news events on a Friday morning, they also have the ability to use this format to deliver a minute round-up on "special occasions" in the political calendar, such as elections or a budget announcement.
Running pre-roll advertising
While the focus is on keeping the content "snappy", when viewed in the site's AOL player, viewers must first watch a piece of pre-roll advertising.
Asked whether this detracts from the point of short-form video being quickly accessible, Hull said the presence of the pre-roll advertising is "something we did consider", but added that viewers are prepared to wait for high-quality content.
"Readers are savvy, they know if you're giving them something good", he said.
In the case of Mehdi's Minute the video is "quality and very well-thought out and personal", he added, "not a piece of aggregated content".
"People are comfortable to have that advert as long as they know what they're getting at the end."
And they tested this theory, running one of the videos with no advertising, and there was no impact on viewing statistics, he said.
But, he added, being transparent about it is "really important".
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