Best Length for Online Video

Video dominates the web. It’s a great way for companies and individuals to make strong impressions and tell their stories. And it’s such a robust medium with its motion and audio and visual effects that companies want to say as much as they can. But producing a video can be expensive. And the longer one is, the more it costs.

In this day of visual bombardment and short attention spans, what are the odds that someone watching your video will watch until the end? When your video is getting to the payoff, will your viewer have already moved on? Is there some magic length that lets you say everything you want to say before the channel is changed?

Good news — research shows that:

• 4 times as many people would prefer to watch a video about your product than to read about it (Animoto).

• 52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of
content with the best ROI (Syndacast).

• Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text (insivia).

But remember, every medium tells a story in its own unique way. So, it’s important to think about the best way to tell your story in video. For instance, someone flipping through a magazine will look at your print ad for mere seconds before moving on. So, your story must be told in a series of quick, minimal impressions where the entire message will be delivered over time. And though video will engage a viewer for much longer, trying to say everything about your product or service by creating a lengthy video may backfire while costing you more money.

Here’s why.

Wistia reported, “… for a video of 4-5 minutes, fewer than 60% of your viewers will still be with you–against 75% for a 1-2 minute video.”

Again, from Wistia: “Videos up to 2 minutes long get tons of engagement. Engagement is steady up to 2 minutes, meaning that a 90-second video will hold a viewer’s attention as much as a 30-second video. This is surprising and actionable information for video marketers. If you’re making short videos, you don’t need to stress about the difference of a few seconds. Just keep it under 2 minutes.”

But what if you’re a marketer and you think you need more time to tell your complete story or deliver your complete message?

For starters, you can think in terms of a series of shorter videos, each focusing on a different aspect of your product or service—like any other ad campaign. Again, with print ads, if you try to say everything about your product or service on one, full-page ad, your message will never get through. Keeping each video in the series at an optimal length will help ensure your audience watches most of it and retains more of what they are seeing.

Next, choose the right partner. A good agency or video/animation studio can help keep costs down and gain economies by helping you plan the series in advance and shooting footage or creating other visual assets for the entire series more efficiently.

Finally, make sure your video is not just informative but that it has impact and some entertainment value. Oh, and make sure it has a PLAY button!

Ed Collevecchio, Creative Associates