It’s a question I’ve been asked for decades, but in a world where we can measure almost everything, do we finally have the definitive answer?

It used to be that clients wanted to get as much into their (potentially expensive) video as possible – to ‘really make the most of it’.

It took a lot of convincing to persuade them to keep things simple and keep the films short.

Times have changed and more enlightened clients, after reading about how shorter content is key, are asking to reduce running times – although sometimes without reducing the messages!

Generally speaking, shortening your content is a good approach.

Our stats – compiled from over 40m organic views – show average viewing time of our content to be about 1.5 minutes, but increasingly our films run for 30 seconds or less.

It’s those 30-second films that have demonstrated the best returns when it comes to view rate (as defined by Google: View Through Rate, or VTR, is the number of completed views of a skippable ad over the number of initial impressions) and click-through rate (CTR).

Research conducted by VideoHub showed that duration of a video ad didn’t make much difference though, even when the ad runs for over an hour!?

Clearly, there aren’t many ads online that run for that time so it may just be that they were particularly well targeted.

Interestingly, research that the Mobile Marketing Association conducted with its partners showed that although duration didn’t have a massive impact on view rate, it did influence the CTR, with longer videos achieving fewer clicks.

Average CTR for non-skippable ads by duration

A factor that does actually affect the VTR is the size of the video, with larger ads (pixel x pixel) having a higher view rate.

So it is important to consider exactly how your films will be displayed, not just how long they run for.

This research is really interesting and can be applied to all video content.

Even if we aren’t creating ads, understanding how audiences respond to our content influences everything we make, whether it is a TV ad, an online ad or a corporate video. 

Going live

Live video is a relatively new area which requires some thought around duration.

Facebook for example recommends a duration of at least five minutes, and people I have spoken to have found 5-20 minutes works well.

Live is challenging because you need to be around long enough to attract your audience (unless it has been heavily promoted), and deliver content that is still interesting for those joining late.

It’s early days and will probably be the subject of a future post, but at the moment I suggest dividing your content so that if people join late it is still relevant. Short Q&As, for example.

Or create something that hasn’t really got a beginning and an end, less story based and more experience based.

Don’t forget to edit and reuse your ‘live’ content elsewhere, make the most of it! 

Just to make things even more complicated, the platform your video is on also makes a difference to the engagement over time.

For example, on Facebook shorter videos get more engagement (although the value of that ‘engagement’ needs to be measured), on YouTube engagement can actually increase the longer someone watches.

ReelSEO has published a really interesting article on this topic.

Personally I think it’s far too easy to ‘like’ a video on Facebook without any real engagement and brands can rely too much on this metric.

So if you are looking to achieve the best CTR with video (which most of us are), shorter films (less than 30 seconds) in a larger format tend to be the best recipe for success.

However, targeting and platforms can be just as important. Show the right content to the right people and they will watch it, even if it is an hour long!

To learn more, book yourself onto Econsultancy’s Video Marketing Training Course.

Simon Crofts

Published 15 June, 2016 by Simon Crofts

Simon Crofts is the creative director of Big Button, a trainer and contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect with Simon on LinkedIn and Twitter. 

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prasad kanda, DM at ABC

Marketers have just 10 seconds to capture and engage an audience before they continue to scroll down or click away; and engagement drops off significantly beyond that. If you have not fully engaged your audience after the first 30 seconds, you've likely lost 33% of viewers; and after one minute, 45% of viewers have stopped watching.

over 1 year ago

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