“’There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'” Mark Twain, attributing the line to Benjamin Disraeli.

Not long ago I attended a lecture on video production and its effectiveness in supporting sales. The lecture was banal, but I was fascinated by the cornucopia of statistics the lecturer used to justify their craft. Here are three of them:

☞ “Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text”
☞ “40% of people respond better to visual information”
☞ “Video is 50x more likely to appear on page 1 of google rankings”


Now, my dear friends, I rarely bring up my Master’s, but, alas, research is in my blood. Moreover, understanding the effects of media are more than a casual interest of mine. So I couldn’t help but wonder whence these quotes sprang?

Let’s start with this one:
☞ “visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text”

There were dozens, if not hundreds of sites who had re-printed this pearl. Fortunately for me, someone else was as curious as I:

They found “the original PDF … it’s part of a sales brochure for 3M.”   ➣http://web.archive.org/web/20001014041642/http:/www.3m.com/meetingnetwork/files/meetingguide_pres.pdf

Now, I have friends who work at 3M; and far be it from me to call anyone at 3M, marketer especially, a liar. But I hereby offer a $100 reward to anyone at 3M who can substantiate this claim with reliable and valid data, measured empirically by a qualified institution (which would not, in this case, include 3M).

My conclusion: the veracity of this assertion is unsubstantiated, and is most likely the result of a fanciful marketing interpretation of … something, perhaps even real research.

Yes, there are studies about video effectiveness, the effectiveness of high or low quality, perceived value, etc. But next time I’ll examine the “40%” and “50x” comments. They’re priceless!

More soon.