A Glimpse into the Media Archives: The History of Explainer Video

What can be more interesting than explainer videos history? Have you ever wondered where it all began? How best explainer videos emerged and are created nowadays the way we know them? Let’s check on that.

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Illustrated Dribbble

What is an explainer video?

What is an explainer video? Explainer videos are an essential part of 21st-century online marketing and sales. You will usually find explainer video definitions as explainer videos on the landing page or homepage of the business, although they can also be posted on social media platforms and apps. Explainer videos usually come in one of three forms: live-action explainer videos, animated explainer videos, and whiteboard explainer videos.

A live action explainer

Live-action explainer video examples are akin to those of a TV commercial or other media advertising revolving around a human presenter explaining the benefits of a product or service. Alternatively, a live explainer video may show the product being used.

Animated explainer videos

Animated explainer videos are the most popular form of an explainer video. Animation is usually visually striking and the only limits are your imagination and the skill of the animator.

Made by Explain Ninja

Whiteboard explainer videos

A whiteboard explainer video is a form of animated explainer video that opens to a white screen before the narrator explains how the product or service works – whiteboard explainer videos are usually by drawing against this white background.

Explainer video evolved

A lot of research has to be done to define that. In case we include film-based production in terms of explainer video, the use of short instructional films designed to educate potential and future customers goes back to the early 1930s. The advent of commercial 16mm film production was at that time achieved by The Bell System which was a privately held company that operated the entire USA telephone network up to the 1980s. It managed to produce hundreds of them, and at one point had probably set up the whole in-house film production department.

Nevertheless, in case we define the first explainer video in history as a short video-based marketing presentation designed to instruct potential users of a new service or product, the field took off in the early 1970s.

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Animation Art: What Was the First Animated Film?

3/4″ U-matic videocassette players with auto-repeat came on the digital market. U-matic videocassettes were first shown by Sony in prototype in October 1969. So, later the banks set them up all over their lobbies to teach their customers in line waiting for the tellers about new financial products, the process, etc. and the horse racetracks used them to teach customers about handicapping, automobile dealerships turn promoted new cars and options, etc. It is hard to define who exactly the pioneer was.

Content studies however reveal that the nearest predecessor of a modern-day animated or motion graphic video explainer was an old good PowerPoint Presentation. Marketers start using them excessively in the 90s to explain everything under the sun. It also had those primitive animation effects to add and make the story alive while presenting.

In 2009 Drop Box made a simple video explaining how they work. It resulted in 10 million users and 50 million dollars as extra revenue. The term explainer video was coined.

Resource: Animaker

First explainer video

If we stick even closer to how modern explainers look like, we will find out that no one really knows exactly who created the first explainer video, but it was actually a whiteboard explainer video made by UPS, which was definitely one of the early adopters and helped inspire the industry. After its introduction, evolving from video to animation finally began. Today it’s the key video design trend.

UPS Whiteboard Video (2007)

The simplicity of explaining something using such simple sketches was quickly caught on and by 2008-2009 whiteboard videos were popping up literally everywhere.

Explainer Videos Today

A modern explainer video is an informative video, usually less than 5 minutes long, that describes what a company does or how a product works. This is not a tutorial, but rather a persuasive business message.

Explainer videos today help to produce the first impression about the company through logo and branding videos, the second impression is based on watching a video that tells who they are and what their mission is, etc.

These videos are fundamental. Promo videos (explanatory/promotional videos) today are of great importance for the growth of the customer base:

are known to be the most popular explainer video formats. The videos do it in a more funny and simple manner. It draws attention to the viewer’s pain points and explains how a product/process can become a solution. More often they are animated videos, but a simple format where a person speaks to the camera is also popular.

30-second explainer videos are usually placed on the main or landing page of the company, but they can also be shared on social networks as advertising or as part of crowdfunding campaigns and so much more.

How Does An Explainer Video Work?

An explanatory video is highly effective. It works as a short-form video used for marketing or sales purposes that highlights a company’s product, service, business idea, or any other message in a compelling and efficient way. Most businesses host explainer videos on their landing pages or feature them on the homepage of their website, on social media pages, and on other mediums.

An animated explainer video helps marketers increase the time users spend on a website, reach more users, increase sales, and generate more leads. This is because an animated explainer video placed at the center of your website’s home page helps visitors better understand the product or service you offer.

Cybersecurity explainer

How to make explainer videos?

How to make explainer videos? All you need is a fun animated explainer video based on the ideal script. Awesome explainer videos for startups are made in 5 easy steps. Here’s how the process works:

1.     Write a script

Without a doubt, the script is an essential part of an animated explanatory video. To make it more attractive, use language that your target audience understands.

2.     Prepare a storyboard

After you write a script, prepare a storyboard of your future story. Once you’ve decided on the type of explainer video, start writing the script and planning the visuals using a storyboard.

3.     Find a location

If you are shooting a video with the participation of real people, then a location is of particular importance for the company – an office, a workshop, a laboratory, etc. will do. It is better when the location reflects the niche.

4.     Chose the animation style

If you’re using the magic of animation, pick stop motion video, or other techniques, to can create an original explanatory video that focuses on the main message that you need to convey to your audience.

5.     Chose an illustrator

Story illustrator helps you illustrate your story in a way that will put you on the radar of your desired audience. You can add images from the gallery and use the explain engine to complete your story with meaningful images and other resources.

Creating an informative and educational animated explanatory video may seem like a daunting task. Many people believe that it is impossible to do this without hiring an explanation animation production company, and they are completely wrong. In reality, anyone can create an engaging animated explainer video with a little know-how and diligence, but the best quality work with the same effort and time is worthier with the professionals.

Where is the explanatory video used?

Business owners who want to sell a product can explain how to use the product to help customers learn how to do it correctly in every sphere. Using video to keep track of the process can help generate interest in a product and motivate them to buy it in nearly every industry:

Once you’ve created a shorter explainer video, you’ll want to post it online and look for platforms to help you increase your targeted traffic. Social networks like Facebook Online blogs and YouTube are the top three platforms you can make sure you have content.


The history of explainer videos is incredibly interesting. Lots of people made their contribution to the emergence of the video design we call explanatory today. Explainer videos are an essential part of 21st-century online marketing and sales. It’s nowadays that you may apply the power of digital animation and video, creating an engaging video that convinces people to view your products or buy them. Carefully choosing the tone of voice you use in persuasive videos helps build interest in your brand and products. No matter what your products, services, or concepts are, you can apply 90-second explainer videos with a powerful call to action to promote them fast and effectively.

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