May 26, 2017

Three Types of Apartment Videos

Posted by Jake Meador


When we talk about apartment videos, there are three main types of videos that different communities will use to market themselves. Before we get into the post, let's talk about what makes a good apartment video. There are three main criterion we want to develop:

  • Usability: How long does the video take to load and to watch?
  • Product-Focused: Does the video advertise the entire community or is it for a single floorplan?
  • Video Quality: Is the room well lit? Is the camera steady? Does it look professional?

360 tours: The old, slow model that is, thankfully, becoming less common.

360 tours are, as the name suggests, a video shot by pivoting the camera around a fixed point in the room, eventually giving a 360 degree perspective on the room.

In terms of usability, these videos typically load quickly enough, but they often take a long time to run all the way through. They are focused on the actual multifamily product, individual apartments, rather than the whole community, which is really good. Video quality varies, but is often pretty low because the cameras used often are not that great and finding the right angle to shoot a 360 video is difficult.

Let's expand on some of that a bit:

The first big problem with 360 videos is with pacing. Jakob Nielsen, a web usability guru, found that people typically spend only ten to 20 seconds on a website before leaving. Also, Business Insider reports that people typically take only seven seconds to form a judgment about a person they've just met. Point being, when someone opens up your website and looks around, you have to make an impression quickly. And 360 tours aren't a great way to do that because the video takes so long to play. One 360 tour of one room will take anywhere from 50 seconds to a full minute—and they can't really go faster without making viewers dizzy. If it's a two bed apartment, then you may have 4-5 rooms to shoot and now you're looking at a five minute video. But if viewers spend only ten to 20 seconds on a site, how many of them are going to spend a full minute—three to six times that length—watching a room slowly scroll past their screen?

The second big problem for 360 tours is with the way they show the physical space. Because of the way they are shot, it's common to experience image distortion along the edge of the frame.

Third, because the camera simply pivots around a single point, it's difficult to get much of a sense for how the space fits together.

For all these reasons, we discourage apartment communities from using these kind of video tours. They may be cheap and relatively easy to do, but they offer pretty minimal marketing value.

Community Overview Videos

The most common videos we see in the industry are community overview videos. As their name implies, these are videos that are more an advertisement for the entire community than something that shows off an individual property. You can make these videos in a few different ways:

  • Some community overview videos aren't actually videos at all—they're slide shows. If there's any motion, it comes from the Ken Burns effect—slowly zooming in or out on a single photo to create the illusion of motion.
  • Some community overview videos are videos of the public areas of the community—the lobby, clubhouse, pool, fitness room, and so on.
  • Some community overview videos combine short cuts of video plus photography to showcase the property.

In terms of our assessment criteria, these videos are probably usable, but they aren't product-specific and they often are not high-quality.

Here are the main problems:

First, these videos usually do not show floorplan-specific content. They show general shots of the community—the exterior, the clubhouse, an unspecified floorplan, etc.

So if someone comes to the site looking for specific information about their unit, they won't find it. So assuming they call to set up an in-person tour, they're a very lukewarm or even cold lead. They liked the exterior shots enough to call, but they probably called a whole bunch of other communities too.

It's always important to remember what your actual product is when developing a marketing strategy. The product people buy is the individual apartment. So your marketing content needs to push individual apartments more than the much broader, more generic, and less powerful appeal of nice amenities, valuable as those might be.

Second, these videos typically are produced by people who are not professional videographers. As a result, the production value is usually lower.

This isn't surprising: Cutting together a series of video clips plus photos is technical work. It's harder than you think. So this isn't an attack on the people producing these videos; it's simply a recognition of how hard that task can be.

But in any event, low-quality videos don't produce as many leads. Various studies have shown that highly-produced videos generate 30%-50% more views. So you need quality videos that give prospective residents what they want: information about what their apartment will look like.

Walkthrough Video Tours

Walkthrough videos are exactly what they sound like—a video made by a videographer who walks through the entire apartment with the camera, showing the viewer the apartment exactly as they would find it if they were walking through the unit.

Using the criteria above, these videos are easy to use because you can simply upload them using YouTube and then embed them on your website. They're obviously product-specific. Moreover, with the right videographer, the quality can be very high indeed.

The benefits to this approach are, therefore, many: Walkthrough videos are as floorplan-specific as it gets. The prospective resident sees exactly what their apartment will look like. Additionally, the data we've gathered suggests that walkthrough video times have higher user engagement. For example, we looked at average time on page for pages that had a walkthrough video tour. In four cases, here's what we found:

  • Video 1: Walkthrough video tour length: 2:18. Average time on page: 2:29.
  • Video 2: Walkthrough video tour length: 1:55. Average time on page: 2:46.
  • Video 3: Walkthrough video tour length: 2:27. Average time on page: 3:17.
  • Video 4: Walkthrough video tour length: 3:26. Average time on page: 2:19.

In other words, in three of four cases, users were spending enough time on the page to see the video and read about the unit. The only case where the average time on page did not exceed the video length was for a three bedroom unit with a longer video tour. Even with that one, the average user spent enough time on the page to see over 66% of the video tour, which may be enough for most viewers.

The main con with walkthrough video tours is that they can be difficult and time-consuming to produce—getting the lighting right, steadying the camera, editing the video, shooting it so that the videographer is never visible (can be very difficult in rooms with lots of mirrors), etc. That said, the benefits with these videos are so significant that, in our experience, they are well worth the extra work.


73% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a product video. What's more, online shoppers who view product videos are almost twice as likely to purchase compared to non-viewers. That's why you need to be using videos to promote your community. And if you want the most value, you need videos that are high-quality, easy-to-use for prospective residents, and product-focused. You need walkthrough video tours, in other words.

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