Reverse Engineer a Social Video

This video was a sponsored ad posted by Paper + Oats that I found on my Facebook page while watching videos. It does a comparison of the speed of creating a document in Photoshop vs. InDesign.

What are the video’s strengths?

They say that people decide if they will watch a video within the first 8 seconds. As a frequent user of Photoshop and InDesign, I was drawn to the video within the first few seconds because it says “Gotta question for ya.” then proceeds with “which is better to design this 2-page PDF? Photoshop or InDesign?” The beginning grabbed my attention because I wanted to know what the question was going to be. As soon as I saw the word design, I was interested. The color scheme also happens to be one of my favorite color combinations so I felt obligated to watch the first bit of it.

I really liked the side-by-side comparison of the two programs with the titles and speed at the bottom of the screen. It was fun to watch the progress of the document on a time lapse. There is even a little bit of humor in the video when it shows the lady already printing the InDesign document and relaxing while the Photoshop document is still being designed.

What are the video’s weaknesses?

I had to mute the video almost immediately because I didn’t like the song. This is just an opinion, but the polka-folk fusion music didn’t fit the feel of the video. I had a hard time viewing this video on my mobile device because the screens were so small. I could hardly read or see what was being done in the programs which defeated the purpose of the ad. The video was also very long. I admittedly skipped through the middle portion the first time I watched it because I quickly got bored. The action was placed at the end which made it feel like a native ad, however the video was so long that I’m sure a lot of people didn’t make it to the end.

What is the video trying to accomplish with its design?

The video was trying to show that InDesign is the better program for designing things like documents. In the end they were trying to promote a tool or guide on how to use InDesign. I think they accomplished this goal by showing the two screens side by side. It is easy to tell that there are fewer steps to go through when designing something on InDesign. I especially like that the screen is split in the middle and one program doesn’t dominate over the other.

How has the design used: CompositionFundamentalsContrastLinesLayoutGolden SectionRule of ThirdsNot HalfSwiss Grid or Custom Grids?

The beginning screen used a great layout because there is a lot of white space that directs your eye straight to the question in the center.

It also used this custom grid throughout the video with equal amounts of padding around the outside. This example splits the grid in half with an image on one side, and the text on the other side. The majority of the video shows the screen split in half while contrasting the two programs.


What metrics (likes, shares, re-tweets, etc.) will be used to determine if the video is successful?

The ad is promoting a program on their website so they will want to know how many clicks the ad got to their website to determine if it was successful or not. They could also use the number of likes to see if people enjoyed the video or not.


One thought on “Reverse Engineer a Social Video

  1. Hannah,

    I enjoyed reading your article. You really have made a good job explaining in detail the weaknesses and the strengths of the video. The video gave me a good idea about how to start my video. I really like those videos who start with a question that makes you curious to watch more. I agree with all the weakness you mention in the article. One weakness you mention is the length of the video, which is 3 minutes and 25 seconds and it is long to watch. Something else that I want to add to the weakness of the video that has to do with the length of the video is the ending. After it says done on the right side a girl appears waiting for the left side to finish. At first, I smiled because I found it funny but then it became annoying and boring because it was taking to long to finish. My point here is that a good idea would be to keep the final part short, enough to make a point. This the video would a funny ending that it doesn’t become annoying.


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