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To increase Daily Active Users (DAU) you need an explainer video !! #SiliconValley

Lately i watched an episode of a tech related series named ‘Silicon Valley’ by HBO, the Season 3, Episode 9 was titled “Daily Active Users”.

What is Daily Active Users (DAU) ?

By definition: Daily active users (DAU) is a way used for measuring success of an internet product, like apps and games. It consist on measuring the amount of users that are actually using the app, not only those that installed it.

In simple words, Daily active users metric is important to determine the number of users that do understand the product and understand how to use the product, and end up using it frequently.

DAU have became more important with the advent of smartphone and the shift towards the mobile internet.

see more about daily and monthly active users <<

Daily active users explainer

‘Silicon Valley’ by HBO, the Season 3, Episode 9

During the episode 9 of the series, the startup team have seen a huge number of downloads for their “pied piper” compression app, half a million to be precise, the only problem is that the DAU was very low, it had around 16 000 daily active users, which is way under what would be considered bad, or 1/5th of the users.
see more about daily active users ratio calculation <<

These numbers come after a failed attempt of a video ad. (some examples of failed video ads).
To remedy this situation, the startup wanted to run a customer study, to understand the “why” behind people not getting the idea, and not becoming active users.
Thus the founder enlisted the services of a market research firm , the firm ran several focus group to determine what was wrong with the app. They soon realized that people did neither get the idea not how to use the application (desktop & mobile).

The User engagement or daily and monthly active users is a real problem in tech, for example: Social networking app Path, launched in 2010 and quickly got 1.5 million downloads in 2.5 weeks, but it took it 2 more years to hit 500,000 daily active users.

Other examples of the importance of daily active users can be observed with Social networks Ello and Google+, where number of registered users is far more important than the number of active users.

Explainer Video to fix the issue

So, in the episode, the startup was left with only $697 000 (much more than most startups have), and the founder decided to spend it on outreach, tutorials, user meetups, guerilla marketing campaigns and a very basic animated video.

The problem, is that these guys, and more specifically the founder or CEO, should have outsourced their marketing, and here’s why:

1- They needed an explainer video and they did not even know it!
The users were joining the platform but leaving after not understanding how it works! Thus they did not need to get more users, but rather needed to educate the users.

2- They have engineers mentality not a customer mentality, this will lead to wrong marketing messages, and tactics. Another proof of their weak marketing skills, is that the user interface is none intuitive ! Optimizing the user interface to increase user convergence or use and referrals , now commonly considered as Growth Hacking, is a must for every software as a service product.

3- They have no idea how to target their user-base! They sent beta invites only to engineers instead of sending to average techy person.

4- They overthink and over-complicate their message:  they hire an advertising company to create a video Ad, but the ad is absolutely meaningless.
To understand to what level the video ad sucked, just compare it to superbowl ads or other creative ads, and the difference would be immediately clear.


In the series: they ended up buying fake engagement, or fake active users to keep the team from breaking up.
In reality, a startup team that does so many lapses in judgment is not operating in optimal freedom of speech culture.

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Voice Over : Male VS. Female for Explainer videos & Whiteboard Animations .

voice over

What voice over to use? Male or Female?

The Voice narration dilemma …

Have you ever wondered which voice over would suit your commercial, presentation or explainer video best ?
We know the reason why most ads feature women, but for some reason i assumed that Female voice overs are more effective and convincing than males one …
We have been creating explainer videos for many years, yet we never paused to reflect on which is more effective…
We have pondered on the difference between text and images, we compared the attention grab,comparing the 10% to 65% retention rate …

and yet we never really questioned the voice narration effect … until now …

It seams that studies on voice overs in TV and Radio ads have been already made, i think we can easily extrapolate it to Explainer videos and White board Animations.

Voice over gender influence studies :

Below i will try to describe and explain the findings published in Trends in Social Psychology by John Z. Arlsdale:
The study done on British media showed that men were almost twice more likely to do voice overs than women,
72.1% of men compared to 41% of women in the study. Even though the study also found that Women were twice more likely to do visual advertising than men, 59% of women compared to 27.9% of men.
Credibility wise 87.7% of males were depicted as authoritative compared to 55.7% of women.
Another study by Furnham and Skae -1997 found similar results for the above mentioned observations.
A study by Gilly – 1988 argued that advertising companies hire male voice over artists, because they believe that a male voice is more authoritative and convincing than a female voice.
Indeed, a study by Rosen and Howell- 1987 have found that male voice narrations are perceived more clearly than female ones.

At the end of the day it all depends on the voice, all voices are not created equal, but in general we can expect a 20% to 40% better results when using a male voice-over than when using a female one.

For more data and information on the subject of gender role in advertising, i would recommend the below studies:

List of studies of television advertisements:

Year Author Country Main Study Focus
1972 Dominick and Rausch United States Women’s roles
1974 Courtney and Whipple United States Gender focus
1974 Silverstein and Silverstein United States Gender focus
1975 McArthur and Resko United States Gender roles
1978 O’Donnell and O’Donnell United States Gender roles
1981 Manstead and McCulloch Great Britain Gender roles
1986 Harris and Stobart Great Britain Gender roles
1986 Livingstone and Green Great Britain Gender roles
1987 Rak and McMullen Canada Male and female interactions
1988 Bretl and Cantor United States Gender roles
1988 Gilly Australia Gender roles
1988 Gilly Mexico Gender roles
1988 Gilly United States Gender roles
1989 Furnham and Voli Italy Gender roles
1990 Radio-TV-Telecommunications Commission Canada Gender roles
1992 Mazzella, Durkin, Cerini, and Buralli Australia Gender roles
1993 Furnham and Bitar Great Britain Gender roles
1995 Leung Korea Gender roles
1995 Sengupta Japan Women’s roles
1995 Sengupta United States Women’s roles
1995 Wee, Choong, and Tambyah Malaysia Gender roles
1995 Wee, Choong, and Tambyah Singapore Gender roles
1996 Mwangi Kenya Gender roles
1996 Siu, W-S Hong Kong Gender roles
1996 Siu, W-S Singapore Gender roles
1997 Furnham, Abramsky and Gunter Great Britain Gender and children
1997 Furnham, Abramsky and Gunter United States Gender and children
1997 Furnham and Skae Great Britain Gender roles
1997 Siu and Au China Women’s roles
1997 Siu and Au Singapore Women’s roles
1998 Milner and Collins Turkey Gender roles
1998 Neto and Pinto Portugal Gender roles
1999 Kaufmann United States Men’s Roles
2000 Bartsch, Burnett, Diller and Rankin-Williams United States Gender roles
2000 Coltrane and Messineo United States Gender, race and children
2000 Furnham, Babitzkow, and Uguccioni Denmark Gender roles
2000 Furnham, Babitzkow, and Uguccioni France Gender roles
2000 Furnham and Farragher New Zealand Gender roles
2000 Furnham and Farragher Great Britain Gender roles
2000 Furnham, Mak and Tanidjojo Hong Kong Gender roles
2000 Furnham, Mak and Tanidjojo Indonesia Gender roles
2000 Milner and Collins Japan Gender roles
2000 Milner and Collins Russia Gender roles
2000 Milner and Collins Sweden Gender roles
2000 Milner and Collins United States Gender roles
2001 Bresnahan, Inoue, Liu, and Nishida Japan Gender roles
2001 Bresnahan, Inoue, Liu, and Nishida Malaysia Gender roles
2001 Bresnahan, Inoue, Liu, and Nishida Taiwan Gender roles
2001 Bresnahan, Inoue, Liu, and Nishida United States Gender roles
2002 Milner South Africa Gender roles
2003 Arima Japan Gender roles
2003 Ganahl, Prinsen, and Baker-Netzley United States Gender Roles
2003 Maher and Childs United States Gender and children
2003 Uray and Burnaz Turkey Gender roles
2004 Milner and Higgs Australia Gender roles


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The different Kinds of Explainer Videos

The different Kinds
of Explainer Videos

Explainer videos is a general term that en-globe many different kinds, depending on the nature of the style, technology, drawing and animation, we can classify:

  • Screencast video ($)

    Also known as a video screen capture, and it often contains audio narration. It is a essentially, the capture of a computer screen or a smartphone, to showcase how a product or service works. This type of explainer videos is an ideal low-budget solution.

  • Whiteboard animation ($$)

    Also known as fast drawing videos or hand drawing videos, the technique use to rely on camera recording an artist while he/she draws the doodles on an actual whiteboard. Since then, these videos have evolved to become mostly digital, all while keeping the same original look and feel.
    These videos are very affordable, because the speeding up of the video would influence the quantity of content that is actually created, thus with lower budgets video is sped up less than with higher budget.
    an example of such videos can found below:


  • Character animated video ($$$)

    Also known as cartoon explainer video or doodle video, it have became recently the most popular video explainer style. Like a cartoon video, storytelling is the essence of such videos, where usually the colorful animation, background music and sound effects catch viewers’ attention quickly. These videos are affordable and usually brands tend to have custom animated characters designed specially for their video, thus bringing emotion and personality to the brand.
    an example of such videos can found below:

  • Motion graphics ($$$)

    The motion graphic is similar to the previous kind of videos, with the exception that it is text and graphic based instead of character based, it is the art of bringing graphic elements (such as shapes, colors and patterns) and text to life through animation. This style is ideal for explaining abstract or complex concepts, where numbers and charts have a big importance, and this in a comprehensible and interesting way.

  • Live action ($$ , $$$$)

    This type of video production rely on real actors speaking in front of a camera, live action is one of the styles where everything is recorded with a real camera ($$), or performing a short demonstration to the use of the product ($$$$), it is basically a short film that can be used for marketing purposes. The most famous examples of such style are the Mac VS Pc ads launched by apple. The line between explainer and ads get often blurred in such videos, this is usually the choice of companies that want to build a relationship with their audience.

  • Live Actor / person on websites ($$$$$)

    Like the previous style, and maybe a subdivision of it, this style rely on real people to convey the message, but this kind of explainers is usually created in flash technology, and consists of a person, usually a model, walking into the scene (the website page), and appearing to talk to the user, this type of explainers are not suitable for presentations.

  • Claymation ($$$$$)

    Also known as stop-motion, is one of the oldest video techniques and, one of the lengthiest videos to craft. It rely on photographed frames, and moving objects between them, thus creating the illusion of movement when played continuously.
    a simple example, can be found below: