Want to know why the Netherlands isn’t underwater? Or why Jackie Chan’s fights are aided by superior film editing? There's an explainer video for that.

The Rise of Explainer Videos

Want to why the Netherlands isn't underwater? Or how feug shui has changed Hong Kong’s skyline?


by Dave Robson

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Want to know why the Netherlands isn’t underwater? Or why Jackie Chan’s fights are aided by superior film editing? Or how feug shui has changed Hong Kong’s skyline?

Ten years ago, these wouldn’t be simple questions to answer. Or these questions might not even occur to you. Now, these explainer videos are everywhere. We’re living in the golden age of the explainer video. Typically short, maybe five to ten minutes, subject matter experts with a knack for putting things in layman’s terms and a talent for interesting graphics will tackle something cool in their field and pick up hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of views. Sometimes the channel is run by someone has a hobby and they’ll make a bit of money on Patreon. Other times, big media outfits like Vox create these videos.

However they happen, they represent an amazing content marketing opportunity. Many companies are tapping into said opportunity, but lots more potential exists.

Everything Can Be Explained

Take this video by Wendover Productions about how budget airlines work:

Lots of different brands could have sponsored it. Anyone in the travel sector who isn’t an airline, like a luggage manufacturer, ticket booking sites, a hotel chain, and more, would have been a good sponsorship fit. Lots of other types of brands would work too, like budgeting software, youth-focused lifestyle companies, or pretty much any tourism board in Europe—especially one for someplace smaller and out of the way.

The point is, no matter what business you’re in, there’s all kinds of related topics that could also make for a good explainer video.

. . . Except Your Specific Brand

Of course, the mistake many brands make is to ask their content marketing creators to get very specific to their brands. For example, some airline marketer working for Fictional Airways might ask Wendover Productions to make a video titled How Fictional Airways Works.

That wouldn’t be so great. People want knowledge, not marketing. A brand name at the beginning is about as much marketing as people can handle. A brand name throughout a five to ten minute video is way too much if it’s paid for by the brand.

More Brands Can Do This

Brands like Dollar Shave, Skillshare, Squarespace, Brilliant, Hover, and more have started sponsoring explainer videos. Considering the popularity of explainer videos, never mind the growing number of content creators out there, there’s no doubt that companies looking to sponsor content have a lot of opportunity to tap.