The origins of a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words
In 1921 Fred R. Barnard wanted to capture the impact of an advertisement featured on the side of a street car. In Printer’s Ink he published the now famous phrase “One look is worth a thousand words”. And with that the statement the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words entered the general lexicon.
The modern day equivalent of Bernard’s statement is “A minute of video is worth 1.8 million words”. But where does this idea originate and why 1.8 million words? In fact Bernard’s phrase and it’s contemporary equivalent are actually connected.
“A minute of video is worth 1.8 million words” comes from a Forrester Research report by Dr. James McQuivey titled “How Video Will Take Over The World”.
How 1.8 million words was calculated
First we take Barnard’s statement that a “picture is worth one thousand words”. This figure is then multiplied by the 30 frames per second. We now have 30,000 words. Multiple that 30,000 words by 60 seconds and you get 1.8 million words.
Just like Barnard’s original statement, 1 minute of video is worth 1.8 million words, is meant to be taken figuratively rather than literally. And a promotional video really can convey a larger amount of content in a shorter space of time than written text thanks to it’s combination of visuals, audio and text overlays. But whether a minute of video is the exact equivalent of 1800 words, or as Dr McQuivey states 1.8 million, is almost certainly impossible to quantify.
If you are looking for more rigorous statistics supporting the benefit of online video take a look at these Video Marketing Statistics For 2016.