Online Video Length: How Long Is Too Long?

Online Video Length: How Long Is Too Long?
January 2, 2013

online-video-lengthHow long should your online videos be?

Length is an important factor to consider when creating online video content. Viewers will only stick with your video for so long, but the optimal video length tends to vary depending on the purpose of your content.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when finding the right online video length, using the two of the most common video types as examples: marketing and training. First, let’s look at length considerations for video marketing. In my next post, we’ll look at some factors to consider for eLearning and on-demand training content.

What’s the ideal online video length for marketing?

There are so many different rules of thumb when it comes to the length of online marketing videos, it’s difficult to come up with a steadfast strategy. It’s pretty clear, however, that when it comes to on-demand video content, shorter is better.

Most experts will tell you that studies show viewer retention tends to drop off around the 90-second to two-minute mark. But does that necessarily mean that all of your marketing videos need to stick to a 120-second cutoff? Probably, but not necessarily.

For example, according to ReelSEO, the average length of the top 10 most shared global video ads is 4 minutes 11 seconds, which helps prove that if your content is compelling, people will spend more time with it. Other sites, like the folks at Skyworks Marketing, will tell you that video length often depends on the focus of your content (“intro” videos can be as short as 30 seconds, while more detailed content can go as high as 10 minutes in length).

In my experience, the general online audience has a lower attention span for business-focused video content than it does for the typical entertaining YouTube fare. (For example, here is a nearly eight-minute video of cats doing funny things. It’s been watched over 48 million times.) So I tend to abide by the two-minute rule for most marketing messages.

At the end of the day, however, the most important thing is that your marketing content is long enough to

A) get your message across sufficiently, and

B) include an appropriate call to action.

You should also track and monitor viewer retention for all your video content. If most people are leaving before viewing at least 80% of your videos, it might be time to tighten things up and tweak your messaging.

What about webinars and event presentations?

Live webinars and events are great tools for lead demand generation, customer engagement, and so on. And once the event is over, many companies opt to release presentations as on-demand videos to be viewed online, extending the life of their webinar or event content.

Repurposing video content in this way is a smart strategy. The only problem is that presentations like these tend to be LONG. (It’s not uncommon for live webinars to last anywhere from 20 minutes to a full hour.)

So while posting presentations in their entirety can make sense (we even do this at Brainshark), you can get even more value by pulling out tiny, easily consumable pieces and making them available as on-demand videos as well. That way, you can create short targeted content to extend the reach of your messaging with video, while maintaining your full-length presentations for lead generation after the event is over. Best of both worlds!

More video marketing tips and ideas: