What is a good web video script

Stills were created to generate dialogue

Web Video Script

52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI. And, in 2017 over 74% of the traffic in the internet will be driven by using quality video content.

in 2017 over 74% of the traffic in the internet will be driven by using quality video content Share on X

Understanding what drives consumers to videos

A painted image is more alive to us on paper than it is in our mind. When the image is in motion it is life itself. To stand out, the brand needs to tell its own story in a unique voice. 

Since web videos tend to tell a slightly longer story (in terms of duration) we examined the tenets of writing a successful script for a web video. We have had our share of hits and absolute clunkers so this post is born as much out of curiosity (to see what works and whether it works for other people too) as a desire to nail down the few things that we ‘feel’ work.

The Individual Subject as the ‘Hero’

Stills were created to generate dialogue

Stills were created to generate dialogue

Big themes are relatable only when they are conveyed through the personal stories of individual characters. The archetype of the ‘hero’ as introduced by Joseph Campbell can be associated with both the ordinary and the extraordinary, the fictive and the non-fictive. The journey of the hero is replicated not only in the journey of the main character but is also retold through the course of our very lives.  He is the hero, the one who sacrifices his all to save the world. 

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The hero has his ups and downs, he fails only to learn from his mistakes and fight back. The figure of the hero is inspiring and assuring. It makes the commoner believe that he can rise from the ordinary and achieve something that seems to be out of this world.

However ordinary your main character is, try to imagine his challenges and aspirations. This makes the story and the message much more acceptable to the audience. Indian audience loves a dramatic conflict. Allow the hero to be beaten down and then rise (maybe with a little help from your product / brand) and beat the odds hollow.


Characters were brought to life by creating Facebook profiles for them

Characters were brought to life by creating Facebook profiles for them

In the land of ‘mere paas maa hai’ and ‘Kitney aadmi they’ the importance of impactful dialogue cannot be overstated. This is one of tough things to crack. But its important enough since if you get the dialogue and the central conflict right, the video is going to be shared, liked and above all – watched to the end unlike 95% of the web videos that are abandoned after the first 5 seconds. 

Dialogue between characters should be free flowing and every day. The lines should paint a picture of the characters’ lives for the audience. You can position a counter-opinion as the main obstacle which is thwarted by the protagonist using arguments embedded in the brand’s core benefits. It is important to craft dialogue in a way that creates empathy with the characters. The audience is likely to care for their hopes and conflicts if they understand what drives them. In the context of a web video dialogues serve another practical purpose, well written dialogue can be used to reduce the on-screen action. The main conflict can be situated and resolved in the banter between the characters.


Conversations happened between the various characters on Facebook

Conversations happened between the various characters on Facebook

This is an effective but challenging tool in the toolbox of the storyteller. Scripts that want to tickle the audience’s funny bone are tough to craft. What is funny to you and me may not be funny to someone in another city. In our experience it is a good idea to locate the humour in an existing context; cinema, folk tale, popular behaviour etc. The web is littered with videos that someone thought would be funny but are just poor scripts trying too hard. 

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Comedy on the web is a fast maturing content category. Your video is likely to compete with professional stand up artists and others who are not governed by brand guidelines. If you are certain that your brand needs a dose of the funnies, it may be a good idea to co-opt someone who has experience in crafting humour based material.

Drama & Duration

The characters were a pre release item to generate curiosity about the story

The characters were a pre release item to generate curiosity about the story

Examine the storyline carefully. This should help you decide the duration. How much longer should the video continue after the joke’s been told? When the conflict is resolved do you still need to spend another minute tying up loose ends? The story arc for web videos is a bit more relaxed than a 30 second TVC. This is both a blessing and a curse. The dramatic requirement of a good web video is almost that of a short film. One way to approach this is to let the project begin without fixed duration, at the start. Once you have the storyline you can start paring it down to suit a duration that fits the budget.

Brand & Butter

Brand & Butter

This is the main reason the video exists. It must deliver value to the advertiser based on a pre-decided outcome. There are a couple of guidelines that may help here.

One – Most brand videos tend to replicate TV commercials in that all of them carry a ‘brand window’ at the end. Instead think about branding the video right from the start. This may sound counter-intuitive but the brand’s logo in the corner does nothing to hamper the viewing experience and provides a brand impression if the consumer does log off before the video ends. 

Two – This is true of videos in general but the web video genre sharpens the need for this to be said – avoid loading your video with more than one objective. Link the objective to a seminal point in the story for maximum impact. Its unlikely that the story has more than one critical point and if it does then its quite likely to confuse the viewer. Weave the story around a sharp, concise objective – something that people can take away.

So these are some pointers that work for us, do you have any to add? We’d love to hear from you in the comments. With inputs from sumanjari@phonethics.in

Making Web Videos


Saurabh Gupta

Founder of Phonethics, a full service digital agency (2006) & Shoplocal, a location based mobile marketplace featuring small businesses (2013). He has won the entrepreneurship award by the British Council Awards and is the creator of Ctrl+Alt+Del, India's first film to be distributed on mobile phones. He has worked on several storytelling videos and is currently working on a video web series.He lives and works in Mumbai, with his two kids, wife and a bag full of stories.