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Video and slide-share white papers: Do they work?

A colleague and I recently put together a talk on white papers done as videos and slide shows.

Apryl Parcher is a white paper writer and social media expert from

Apryl and I wanted to respond to the new formats for white papers we’ve seen cropping up, especially videos and slide shows.

We present a few samples of so-called “white papers” formatted as videos and slide shows, and make some observations about their effectiveness.

Click on the screen below to watch it (9:47 minutes).

screenshot of Video and Slideshare White Papers and Reports

A video white paper usually involves a talking head delivering content at a fixed camera angle for 7 to 9 minutes. There can be extra text or a transcript of what the person is saying to the side of the screen.

A slide-share white paper looks like PowerPoint. But instead of short paragraphs or bullet points, all the content is on the slides.

What’s the point?

A video or slide show can benefit marketers in two ways:

  1. It can be good for SEO. If you repurpose a white paper in these formats and attach a transcript populated with SEO keywords, that will be indexed by search engines.
  2. You can attract people who don’t read. But how solid is a prospect who won’t bother to read a few pages on your offering? Just asking.

Do these formats work?

Ultimately, I don’t believe white papers formatted as video or slide-shares are as effective as white papers distributed as traditional PDFs.

The slide show white papers I’ve seen look like complex text dumped on to slides. They’re tough to read, tough to scan, and tough to search.

And from the samples I’ve seen of video white papers, the video medium adds nothing to the effectiveness of a white paper. Not to say that it never could.

screenshot of Video and Slideshare White Papers and Reports

But what B2B marketing team has the budget or the skills to make a fabulous production, like something you might see on the Discovery channel?

More likely, we’ll be stuck with talking heads, like this example.

Will videos and slide shows replace white papers?

When executives meet around a boardroom table, they need information to share with one another.

I don’t think either video or slides are effective for communicating the complex information that prospects want to see in a white paper, especially when they need to back up a costly business decision.

It’s more likely that videos and slide-shares will serve as light, interactive introductions to the deeper content of a white paper.

So visitors to YouTube or a slide-sharing site will be able to find relevant white papers by searching, viewing some basic content, and then deciding if they want to download an entire white paper.

What do you think?

It will be interesting to see if video and slide-share white papers evolve to become more effective, or simply fall by the wayside.


What do you think? Will these non-traditional white paper formats stick around? Please leave your comments below…

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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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  1. Evelyn on August 10, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Gordon, what you are saying makes a lot of sense because it is easier to share the salient features of a white paper with room full of executives if you have the information in a printable format but what do you have to say about Audio white papers which are doing the rounds these days?? Is getting a C level executive to read a 10 – 15 page white paper easier than getting him to just listen to it? What if a transcript is sent/ attached with the paper? Could this be beneficial at all, for a B2B environment?

    • Gordon Graham on August 10, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      Evelyn, thanks for your comment. The average American spends more than 1 hour getting to and from work. For some, this is a welcome chance to relax, daydream, or listen to some tunes. For others, it’s a good time to read the news or chat with friends (on their hands-free phones, of course). And for some, this is an ideal time to listen to selected podcasts or other audio content. For that segment, audio white papers make a lot of sense. I’ve been surprised at how slow companies have been to use audio white papers. In fact, we’re working on an article on audio white papers right now, so stay tuned and we’ll have that posted soon.

      • Evelyn on August 11, 2015 at 12:18 am

        Thank you, Gordon. Will keep an eye out for it.

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