What is the Ideal Length for Our Web Video?

Kenny Jahng —  2012/11/06 — 3 Comments

In terms of content marketing, videos are “the new black”.

If you’re on the web, you want to attract the attention of as many new people as possible. And you already know that if you’re producing content for the web, video needs to be a part of the mix.

YouTube Viral Videos in Church Marketing

The question is, just how long is the ideal video length?

90 seconds?

3 minutes?

4 minutes?

10 minutes?

Popular notion has been that you want something definitely under 5 minutes if you want it to be shared and spread across various social networks.  Attention spans just aren’t that long.  While the average online video viewed is 6 minutes 14 seconds, if you look at the most shared videos on YouTube you get a different story:

Average Video Length for Top 50 Most Shared Global Video Ads:

  • Top 10 – 4 minutes 11 seconds (2,513 total seconds – does not include “Kony 2012”)
  • 11-20 – 2 minutes 30 seconds (1,501 total seconds)
  • 21-30 – 3 minutes 5 seconds (1,849 total seconds)
  • 31-40 – 2 minutes 57 seconds (1,770 total seconds)
  • 41-50 – 1 minute 45 seconds (1,049 total seconds)
  • Top 50 – 2 minutes 54 seconds (8,682 total seconds – does not include “Kony 2012”)

Source: The Best Length for a YouTube Marketing Video  ©2012 ReelSEO

I think there are three distinct phenomena happening here:

1) TV & movie content online is maturing so that the habits of “tv content” consumption is shifting because of Netflix, Hulu, networks sites and iTunes.  People are becoming more accustomed to watching full-length episodes and movies on smaller screens — as well as Roku & AppleTV boxes are letting people watch web video on the big screen at home.

2) Time spent on social networks is increasing which means there’s more content being shared by friends at the same time.  500 years of YouTube video are watched every day on Facebook, and over 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter each minute.  The trade offs of content consumption vs getting through it all of the content as a whole is shaping how people are only able to watch shorter segments of video clips online.  People just don’t have the luxury of sitting around to watch 10 minute videos, just as most people are deluged with overflowing email inboxes these days and aren’t able to sit down and meditate on lengthy emails received (because they don’t know how to employ inbox zero praxis IMHO – no one teaches that stuff in school growing up these days).

3) Mobile. As more and more content is consumed on the go, small screen consumption doesn’t allow us to watch long clips much.  Traffic from mobile devices tripled in 2011.  More than 20% of global YouTube views come from mobile devices.  We’re addicted to feeling “productive” and “processing” the inbound streams of content demanding our attention.  Thus we’ll watch a 2 minute video clip, but abandon a 10 minute video well before the midpoint because we just don’t have the time nor ideal environment to watch it on mobile devices (while driving or fake-conversating with a friend.  And yes, I just used it as a verb that way.  Glad you’re paying attention!).

Of course one other way to look at this data in a positive manner is to say, consumers like you and me have attention spans much longer than the traditional :30 second spot.  We want to be engaged.  Enough so that we’ll watch what is essentially a story version of an ad for your organization’s call to action being proposed that’s 3-5 times longer than a traditional :30 second spot.

Yeah, I get the fact that you have way more than 5 minutes of great stuff to say about the amazing things you’re doing on behalf of your supporters.  But they don’t have the time, patience or environment to hear it.

My suggestion is to break it down into smaller elevator pitches.  What would you say to that supporter if you could only talk to them on a couple of elevator rides in a given day.  If you seriously only had 2-3 floors worth of elevator riding each time, what would you boil down your message to? That’s your web video right there.

What’s your reaction to the shortness of the average shared web video length?  Are you challenged?  Or are you encouraged to become more focused in your messaging?

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3 responses to What is the Ideal Length for Our Web Video?

  1. Great post! Elevator pitch strategy is great! Tell the story over time!

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