How Long Is Short?

What is the optimal length of a video ad asks ClickZ in a new study. According to the analysis, there’s no perfect numerical answer, but throughout the industry, the answer is along the lines of “short.”

Laura Henderson of Mondelez noted, at a ClickZ Live event, “The current average attention span of Web and mobile users is less than eight seconds… attention is the new currency for advertisers… a shrinking attention span is making it that much harder to engage customers in… (a) fragmented media market… “

The growing difference between the days when a campaign could be planned for months and then launched and analyzed is a much more real-time proposition, pointed out Henderson. However, depending on the platform, shorter videos aren’t necessarily the way to go, says Mike O’Brian of MediaVideo.

The average Facebook video was just under a minute and a half at 81.22 seconds, and on YouTube, the average video was more than 14 minutes according to an analysis by Tubular Labs of 24,000 YouTube and Facebook videos, with more than 10,000 engagements apiece.

But, looking at the current top trending YouTube videos of the year, the average length was 4.76 minutes. While the average was significantly affected by a 13-minute spot, only one video was close to a minute. Most of the rest were around three minutes, says the report.

According to a July Business Insider report, the average person spends more than 20 minutes a day on Facebook. Since the average person also checks their phone 150 times a day according to Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, the inference is that all 20 of those minutes spent on Facebook aren’t consecutive.

With so many more distractions and updates to read, the engagement metric used by Facebook is three seconds, though their 30 second video limit is the same as Instagram videos. Jim Squires, director of market operations at Instagram, agrees that “… some brands… tell their story in a six-second slow-motion video showcasing product… others will engage their audience with a 30-second movie trailer… ”

So, is shorter always better for social media platforms, asks the report. It looks like 30 seconds is the current consensus.

BUT, says the report, no matter the platform, there is no optimal length. How long a video should be depends on a million different factors, but there is one universal truth: the content should be good. The different pieces are for different people who have different intents, and the new marketing challenge is to look for it. Ultimately, the length of your video takes a backseat to its content, which should be tailored to different platforms.

For more information from ClickZ, please visit here.



3 comments about "How Long Is Short?".
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  1. Randall Tinfow from CLICK-VIDEO LLC, December 22, 2015 at 7:48 a.m.

    Our data for 11,000 clips of 4 - 30 minutes shows that median user persistence is 88% at 1 minute, 50% at 3:25 trending down.  Those clips are 72% corpcom and the rest consumer facing.  

    Interesting to note that user persistence of 50% does not change as clip length increases.  Average view length is skewed longer by the few outliers who will watch a long clip in its entirety.

    Our advice is UNDER 3 MINUTES.  Or chapterize, which extends user view time by up to 44%.  

    What I don't get is all the companies that upload a 40 minute webcast and expect users to watch.  By the 6 minute point 84% have fled.  Provide granular access and that content has value.  Otherwise it's an insult to prospects whose core info may be at minute 37.

  2. Ira Kalb from Kalb & Associates, December 22, 2015 at 2:06 p.m.

    What you say is very intuitive, and most will believe it, but there is other research that indicates otherwise. Based on what you said, 14-years old girls would only see Titanic once since it was 3-hours long. In fact, they saw it an average of 3 times! More relevantly, longer web sites and online communications if done well, sell more. Research is linked in this postIf You Think Short Copy Sells More, Think Again!

  3. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, December 22, 2015 at 8:38 p.m.

    Reallly appreciate Randall's data. And let me suggest that context matters tremendously. 

    My overall advice to clients is that the video should be as long as it takes to succeed - not a second longer or shorter.

    The 8 second idea noted here is, I would guess, because most online video is really bad tripe for consumers (a lot of self-serving brand bs). Consumers very quickly decide whether they are willing to spend the time to watch. The most common error I see is the 10 second animated logo open. Yup. Clicked away becasue if they think I care about their logo they really don't care about me.

    That said, many companies have things they need to say that take far longer than 8 seconds. So we must figure the opening 15 seconds have to hook consumers - lead them to conclude the video has something of value to offer. THEN they'll stay longer.

    Worst example I once saw was a GE video for an LED light. We were digging deep looking for the right lights for our conference room. This light looked possibly interesting. So I clicked on the video. At 10 seconds in I almost gave up. Then I started skipping around. It turned out to be a 2 minute video with 15 seconds of really, really valuable presentation buried deep in the middle.

    We bought the lights and love them... all this despite the video.

    I'll modify Randall's advice:  Online a set of 2-3 minute clips make good sense - let the consumer act non-linearly. But we have made 30 minute infomercials about obscure topices (selling a drill bit sharpener) that in broadcast pulled 1 ratings (NOT SHARE) in local markets. Why? We made the topic d..ned interesting.

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