Research: What Makes Travel Videos More Engaging?

Beautiful. Moving. Witty. Inspiring. Motivating. These are just some of the subjective criteria producers consider when planning and executing video projects, be it first-time pieces or a series update.

But, in a world saturated with multiple screens and unlimited content other considerations become crucial. Will the video content be effective? Will it engage consumers as intended? Is there anything that can be done before or after the content is published to drive engagement?

Travel Channel decided to ask that last question of itself as it prepared a thirty-second spot earlier this year for one of its highest priority shows, Expedition Unknown.

Specifically, the Network sought to measure engagement while consumers were watching a draft version of the content, as opposed to relying exclusively on recall. It worked with Innerscope Research to combine several technologies to track key viewer behaviors:

  • Core biometrics (heart rate, Galvanic skin conductance) to gauge overall emotional engagement.
  • Facial coding to identify discrete emotions like surprise, confusion and joy.
  • Eye-tracking to measure visual attention.

Below is the video clip that was shown, with an overlay that demonstrates where the clip was performing best. The blue line tracks engagement, while the green and red heat map tracks where viewers eyes were looking.



What Travel Channel found:

  • Engagement increases through the beginning of the promo while attention is centrally focused on branding.
  • Engagement decreases with the flashing, monochromatic image of Amelia Earhart.
  • Engagement increases as host Josh Gates is introduced. Concurrently, the voiceover shifts to second person: “you,” the viewer are going on an epic adventure.
  • Engagement decreases during a series of shots of various locations and peoples – great visuals, but less compelling.
  • Focus returns to Gates, who speaks directly to the camera for remainder of the ad. From here, engagement increases through final branding.

What travel brands can learn from this:

From this engagement study, here are some best practices that travel video producers might consider in their own work.

  • Narrating directly to the audience increases relevance and emotional engagement.
  • Stronger performing content builds an emotional journey.
  • Context is key. The sooner viewers figure out what the content is about at a basic level, the more they will then connect emotionally.
  • Overt humor elicits a positive response from the audience. (Additional research from Travel Channel parent Scripps Networks shows this to be especially true among Millennials.)

The key takeaway from all this? Travel video content becomes more engaging when it capitalizes on the human factor to connect audience with destination.

The final version of this clip has been the Network’s strongest 2015 campaign to date for “viewership lift” attributable to promotion. It has also outperformed for instilling show awareness and intent to view. 

This content was created collaboratively with Travel Channel

Moving Images explores the new era of travel video, from new platforms and technology to best practices from forward-thinking brands and content creators. View the full dashboard.

71 Percent of Travelers Look to Video for Vacation ideas

71 Percent of Travelers Look to Video for Vacation ideas

Why Visit Savannah is Banking its Video Strategy on Facebook

Why Visit Savannah is Banking its Video Strategy on Facebook

The GoPro Effect: Evolving Travel Brands into Social Powerhouses

The GoPro Effect: Evolving Travel Brands into Social Powerhouses