Think about it: even before clicking on a video, you check its length. Then, you decide if it’s worth watching.
This common behavior clearly shows how important it is to find the ideal duration for maximum video effectiveness and appeal.
Let’s be clear: there is no magic rule that works in every situation. Marketers know this well.
When you produce a digital video, the most common mistake is to take for granted that what interests you will interest others. Indeed, you should never expect users to automatically give you their trust and time.
We know it, and we keep hearing it all the time: video offerings are more prevalent than ever, and they are all around us. We can watch videos everywhere and in every situation, rapidly and easily, from every device, and through different platforms: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and many others. And now, with interactive viewer engagement videos are no longer just for spectators.
YouTube, although suitable for long-form video content, stated in a recent blog that the average video length was 4 minutes and 20 seconds. ComScore reported that in January the duration of the average online content video was 4.4 minutes. Basically, it seems like short video still rules the day on YouTube. But no matter what happens, as videos get longer, our attention spans will shorten.
There are detrimental effects with videos being longer than necessary: users’ interest diminish, the viewer suffers information overload and expectations on content quality become much greater. Competition for viewer attention is as never before and this means that deciding on the length of your video is a decision that requires careful thought and analysis.
In other words, since your goal is to create a video that is as captivating and effective as possible, you need to sharpen your wits — or in this case, the script.
10-15 seconds top: That’s the time you have to catch interest before the prospective viewer decides to give up watching. This is very important data to keep in mind. You need to go straight to the point, without frills, especially at the beginning of the video. Convey your key message(s) right away.
Research indicates that if you haven’t caught your viewers’ attention within 30 seconds, you are probably going to lose 33% of your audience. After one minute, the drop-off rate will increase to 45% and after 2 minutes, audience abandon percentage will reach a whopping 60%.
Catching viewer attention in the first few seconds is critical, but even more important is keeping it.
There is no perfect duration to be applied to every type of video. It may change depending on your objectives, and it will surely change depending on your audience.
That’s why the latest trend in video marketing is personalization, in which text, graphics, images and even the voice over can be specifically tailored to the demographics, geographics and psychographics of each viewer. Today, this is not only possible, but an increasingly common marketing media with high ROI. In fact, Doxee Personalized Videos are watched until completion by close to 78% of users. This is significant data as compared to traditional video abandonment rates.
Generally speaking, we can identify five main parameters to keep in mind when evaluating the proper length for an effective marketing video:
1. What kind of content are you offering?
A proper video library needs to include a variety of content. And, for every type of video content, there is an ideal length. For instance, a funny or entertaining animated video can have significant impact if the viewer can quickly get the message and respond. On the other hand, a branded documentary, for instance, can last up to ten minutes without losing its effectiveness.
Choosing a long-form video is not a wrong choice per se. Rather, it directly depends on the marketer’s goals. A long keynote (e.g. a TED Talk), can be perfect to engage with an audience that’s extremely interested in a specific topic or brand. A clever trick to maintain audience attention is to break a long video into “episodes,” provided you can create a single thread that sews together the single chapters. If you use this approach, you also have to make sure every episode creates strong expectations for the following one.
2. Where and how will your video be watched?
One of the most important variables to consider when deciding the ideal length of your video is the modality of delivery, specifically through which device, and on which platform.
On social media, being concise is always a good idea. The ideal length for Facebook’s autoplay system is around 35 – 45 seconds. On Instagram the length obviously shrinks to as little as 15 seconds. On YouTube and Vimeo, users are generally more inclined to watch longer videos, but they also expect higher quality in terms of production. In short, every platform has its own characteristics, limits and advantages.
3. What are the expectations of your audience?
The users’ attention span can vary greatly according to what the viewer expects from a certain video in a specific moment. In this sense, the title and the preview image play a pivotal role in creating interest.
A more formal, technical title (e.g. “Tutorial: How to repair a damaged Samsung Galaxy 7 LCD screen”) can lead users to assume that the video is long, precise, and detailed. In contrast, a brief title (“How to fix an iPhone screen”) may create expectations for a shorter, less detailed video.
The videos’ preview image is of utmost importance. Keep in mind these three aspects when choosing it:
a) Images of faces, persons, or groups
The user expects light content, which can be funny or entertaining but, in any case, brief.
b) Images of products or objects
Images showing objects tend to be less effective in terms of CTR. It is worth using these images only if you believe the product can generate significant interest (e.g. the new iPhone).
c) Plain text
With preview images that show only text, users tend to expect educational content, and therefore they are more predisposed to invest time and energy.
4. What kind of reaction do you expect from your viewers?
The ideal length of your video also depends on what you expect the viewer to do while playing it or after watching it – in other words, on the type of call-to-action(s) you want to insert into the video.
A high-quality video needs to provide a well-structured user experience, so it is important to place the call-to-actions in the right moment (scenes) within the video. In this case, personalized videos – like the ones provided by Doxee – provide a flexible solution that allows you to place the call-to-actions wherever you like, and maximize the efficiency of these user-directed behaviors.
To evaluate the best way to drive action through your video, ask yourself:
Do I simply want to entertain the user? Or do I want him to take a specific action, such as subscribing to my newsletter, buying my product, sharing information, downloading my new app, and so forth?
Do I aim at informing, educating, or teaching something specific? Becoming aware of your goal will allow you to identify the best way to use in-video call-to-actions.
A general tip: If you want the user to act, don’t wait for the end of the video to present your call-to-action(s). Rather, insert it within the first 10 seconds of the video.
5 Finally, what is the analytics data telling you about response?
Analytics is the key to knowing if the length of your video is right. Study the data carefully to determine who views it, for how long and which content generated more user engagement. Look for the weakest videos that have the highest dropout rate or in the case of personalized videos with “user directed storytelling,” which scenes are being selected and which are not. If you have a call-to-action (and you should have one), what is the CTR telling you? This information is critical to knowing how well your content is being received and if viewers are captivated enough to watch it to completion. And this will help you to ascertain if the video’s length influenced the outcomes, and act accordingly.
The bottom line is: learn from experience, and exploit it to improve your next video. In time, you will gain a great appreciation for the length of time perfect for your next video project.