Q. How long should a marketing video be?
A #1. A marketing video should definitely be shorter.
Attention spans are getting shorter by the month and viewers want to quickly move on to the next shiny object. As well, there is a precipitous drop off in viewership after one minute for most videos. Shorter is definitely better.
A #2. A marketing video today should most certainly be longer.
Content marketing is the future of video. No one wants to be sold – they want to be informed, helped and inspired by your video. Being brief for the sake of being brief is a waste of time. Providing real value to the viewer – that’s what your prospects are looking for.
A #3. It depends.
So… ya… it really does depend… on quite a lot of things.
Sadly, when you research this topic you’ll find countless websites prescribing a specific length ( i.e. 30 – 60 seconds) as the cure-all for all of your marketing woes.
Asking how long a marketing video should be is a bit like asking if you should use animation in your video, or whether you should employ a cross-dissolve, j-cut, or dipsidoodle (I made this last one up) as a transition between shots.
There is no ‘correct’ answer and anyone volunteering an answer to this question without first asking for context is likely misleading you.
Here are some examples of contextual information required to answer the question ‘How long should a marketing video be?’
- What is the purpose of your video? (The answer to this question should be crystal clear.)
- Who is your audience? (“Everyone” is the wrong answer.)
- What is your relationship with the intended audience? (This question is critical as it determines how interested your audience will be in anything you have to say.)
- What is the intended delivery path for the video? (If no one has given this much thought then you’re already in trouble.)
- What measurable outcome are you looking to achieve? (This should be self-evident. Often it’s not.)
- What do you want to say and show in the video? (What is the key message you need to deliver?)
- What style and format of video should I use? (Should I use a presenter, should the video employ humour, should it be detailed, or superficial, should it be live action or use animated characters, should it shock or should it inspire?)
There are many different types and uses of corporate video. Knowing what type of video you are producing and answering all of the above questions will help to determine the proper length for the intended corporate video. Telling your client that two minutes is the ‘correct length’ is like telling them that being funny is the right approach to take with their next corporate video.
How long should a marketing Video be? – Recent Trends in Marketing Video
There are two opposing trends in corporate video today:
1. Corporate videos are, on average, becoming shorter.
If you consider business videos in the aggregate (especially when you take into account the growing number of web-based ads) then the average viewing time for all corporate videos is definitely shrinking. “About 3 minutes” used to be common guidance for a Corporate Overview video three or four few years ago. Then in the last few years ” a couple of minutes” became the standard. Today ‘somewhere between 60 seconds and 120 seconds” is the general guidance for Corporate Overview videos. Most other types of business videos are experiencing this same dynamic. There are many reasons for this change:
– Attention spans are shrinking. This trend will accelerate as we continue to multitask and we continue to experience even more information competing for our attention. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to back this claim and there have been some studies done to measure this change in online behaviour.
– Mobile video viewing is accelerating. More people are watching video on a mobile device every day and short form video is a necessity for most mobile uses and applications. Some even claim mobile is poised to become video’s first screen.
– Very Short form video is gaining prominence. The growth in popularity of this new format of video is going to have an effect on all business video. Very short form video like: Vine (6 second videos) had a very short shelf life. Instagram (15 second videos), Tout (15 second videos), Mixbit (16 second videos – because ’15’ clearly wasn’t enough…) are other formats. Tik Tok -‘ the twitter of video’ is hyper short and the ads that run on Tik Tok also have to fit into the viewers preferences. Add to this the growth in 15 and 30 second pre, mid and post-roll online advertising opportunities in sites like Youtube and it’s easy to see how shorter videos will continue to increase in popularity (and influence viewing behaviours.)
Instagram Story videos can be up to 15 seconds, but you can also consider posting a longer video formats over multiple 15-second Instagram Story cards or scenes. Snapchat caps your record time at 10 seconds.
Facebook allows you record video for up to 20 seconds before the record circle cuts out. Is there a magic number for how many different scenes to use in a single story? Facebook recommends using multiple scenes, but to avoid going too long. They say that a story with 3 parts is the most engaging.
– Video length can be a deterrent. Most users glance at the length of a video prior to viewing. If the video is perceived as being too much of an investment of their time they will simply move on.
– Viewership drops off quickly online. All video hosting services have conducted research that shows a dramatic drop-off in viewership over time for all videos. Very few corporate videos are completed and more than half are abandoned before the viewer gets half-way through.
– YouTube has changed it’s algorithm to emphasize time-watched. This is significant because the number of views (as measured by clicks) isn’t nearly as important a metric as it used to be. Percentage completion of a video is a much better indicator of the value of a video. (It’s that much harder to game these results as well.) So the challenge is that the longer your video is, the less likely you are to have viewers watch your video all the way through.
So in summary, shorter is better. Unless of course, it’s longer – which as you will see below, might be even better.
Here is a link to different types and uses of videos that you should consider along with how long you want your video to be.
2. Some video types are becoming longer.
The vast majority of corporate videos created today are promotional videos – basically you talking about you. The problem with most of these videos is that nobody really cares about you, or your product, or your building(s), or your people, or your methodology, or hobbies, or habits, or… What people do care about is their own problems. This is where Content Marketing is gaining a lot of traction. Content Marketing isn’t about selling, it’s about providing valuable information to your customers and prospects and associating your brand with that content. The purpose of content marketing is to establish a relationship of trust over time with your prospects and clients. Providing your viewer with content that they are interested in is a great first step in establishing that trust. Longer form content is well suited to this type of promotion. How-to’s, tips and tricks, industry updates, research… anything that provides value and helps the viewer in some way is what works with content marketing.
‘Yes, but Television commercials are pure promotion and they still work very well today,’ you might add. ‘Yep they sure do,’ I might respond, because most people are still too lazy to change the channel. Online it’s a very different story. Most online viewers have their index finger perched precariously over their mouse just itching to click away at the slightest hint of self-indulgent dribble. So while shorter is better, shorter isn’t always best. Relevant trumps shorter. (‘Short and relevant’ is a pretty powerful combination.)
Certain video platforms, like the granddaddy of all video – Youtube, actually rewards longer video formats. Videos with longer watch times get highlighted more prominently in the Youtube search algorithm. Your video still has to be engaging but the longer the video, the more ads Google can run against your video
Other longer form video include:
– Content associated with a subscription or opt-in service – something that someone has explicitly signed up to view. If people know you and already trust you then they will have more time for whatever it is you have to say.
– Infotainment or branded/sponsored entertainment. It’s very difficult to make anything your company does entertaining (unless you are Victoria’s Secret or the NFL) so one option is to have someone else develop entertaining content that you can sponsor or you might also consider developing infotainment content around your product. Infomercials still work very well today.
– Great video. If your content is compelling, or inspiring, or thought provoking, people will watch it, regardless of it’s length.
Guidance on how long a marketing video should be:
The following are average lengths for different types of business videos today:
Corporate Overview Videos – 1 to 2 minutes.
Online Promotional Ads – 15 and 30 seconds
Broadcast Promotional Ads – 15, 30 and 60 seconds
Product or Service Promotions – 60 to 90 seconds.
Customer testimonials – 1 to 2 minutes
Recruiting Videos – 1 to 3 minutes
Content Marketing – 1 to 5 minutes (or longer)
Very Short Form Video – 6, 15 or 16 seconds
Viral Videos – 60 to 90 seconds.
Video Case Studies – 2 to 4 minutes.
Crowd-Funding Videos – 90 seconds to 2 minutes.
Training Videos – 2 to 30 minutes.
Product or Service Demos (not Promos… Demo’s) – 90 seonds to 3 minutes
Product Reviews – 1 to 3 minutes
Event Videos – 2 to 60 minutes.
Vlogs – 1 to 10 minutes
Video Length Tips to Consider:
Tip #1 Your video should be exactly as long as it takes for you to get to the point. The sooner you get there, the better. (Don’t give people a reason to click-away)
Tip #2 The type of video, audience relationship, and purpose of the video ultimately determines the length of your video. Never follow industry averages blindly. (120 seconds isn’t ‘right’ and 85 seconds isn’t ‘wrong.’)
Tip #3 Front-load your content. Build your content in an inverse pyramid just like you would write a press release. Most people will never get to the end of your video so make sure you include all the good stuff at the beginning.
Tip #4 Don’t include useless branding content at the beginning of your video. I still see videos that take up to 30 seconds for anything of value to be communicated. Save your animated logos, credits, motion graphic intro’s and all that other flashy stuff for the end of the video where most people will never see it.
Tip #5 Consider serializing your content. If you know your video is too long and you have a lot of important things to say consider breaking your content up into smaller chunks. If you can’t do this consider adding index references on the page where you host your video to allow people to jump to the piece of the video they actually care about. Don’t make the viewer wade through 4 minutes of useless information just to get to the piece they are interested in.
Tip #6 Measure your results. If you see people abandoning your video consistently after 55 seconds it may be time for an edit.
Tip #7 Don’t bloat your video with ‘message creep.’ ‘Script by committee’ will ensure that your video includes everything anyone could possible think of. The only thing adding a third, fourth or fifth ‘benefit’ will do to your video is confuse your viewer and make your video longer.
Tip # 8. Get help with you video. Go to prospective video production companies, look at their work samples and ask them how long they think your video should be. You’ll get a good sense of their value by the questions they ask you.
Bonus Tip There are sooooo many examples today of where length of a marketing video is irrelevant. Pre-roll ads in Youtube is one example. The only thing that matters with Youtube pre-roll ads is that you say something valuable enough in the first 5 seconds to get the viewer to watch your ad instead of pounding the ‘skip ads’ button to get to the video they came their for. If you get them to keep watching then, again, length isn’t the issue – the goal is to give the viewer enough value, enough information for them to want to take the action you are trying to illicit.
Bottom line, in corporate video (and in most other forms of communications) get to the point as quickly as you can.