At the helm of my position, I am constantly bombarded with queries about what the best size is for their explainer video (while I keep trying to tell them explainer is a loose term, it is a discussion for another day), but as a marketer, I know that there is no ‘one size fits all strategy’ when optimizing your video marketing content.
Let’s look at some numbers:
Back in 2013, a study proposed that it took 10 sec to grab an average viewer’s attention, while I can debate about this topic with the decreasing attention spans (See the Microsoft Study Here), in 2013 was 8 seconds and as I write and as many video platforms are embracing the 6 second format, tells me that we are working against the clock to create attention.
To test this theory, Google did an experiment on a Honey Maid’s Graham Cracker Ad, testing the following Hypothesis, the idea was to present a viewer with a shorter striatum hitting format that probably sacrifices the message and compare it with a longer format with a risk of being tuned out. The results still favored the longer format of value, but the shorter 15 second, driving brand recall. But does this mean longer videos are the best way to go?
Actually no! studies have shown that a myriad of factors affects the video duration, but if we were to cut through the noise and determine what the most contributing variables are, it falls into the following broad variables.
Content is King, great videos come in all sizes, styles, and duration, a typical top of the funnel brand story or videos that play with a social moment or a recent spectacle (See how brands used the Solar Eclipse) are usually short in length. The main purpose is a brand recall, a striatum boost if you will, if you want to look at it from a neuroscientific perspective.
But, it doesn’t mean long form of videos are dead, videos that are affective (that play on suspense, comedy and drama), play on a different part of the brain and videos that are cognitive (Facts) play on a different part of the brain, while there is still no consensus, on what works the best for your story, one thing we know for sure that longer formats (more than 2 mins) are tolerated, if they are broken up into smaller episodes, so if you have lot to say, break them down to create several episodes, leaving people wanting more (Here is a Burger king series)
The device and platform on which your content is delivered are a very important consideration, For example, a video hosting platform like Youtube has consistently tolerated longer videos, ads on Youtube average over 3 mins in fact in 2015, none of the top ads were less than 3 mins in length. This is just a measure of common sense here, people come to Youtube searching for videos, hence it consistently tolerates longer formats, whether Youtube is a great place for your deployment is a completely different question, it is important to keep this in mind.
A staggering study from Tubular Labs, Analyzing over 24,000 videos on Facebook and Youtube, found that average video of Facebook was under one minute and Youtube over 14 mins in length. This further fortifies the initial argument. So what does it mean to marketers, in essence, the key takeaway being, each platform has benefits and considerations and play an important role in the need for good user experience?
If suppose you want to grab the immediate attention of a user to an impending event, Facebook remains a great platform with a short video, so a Facebook video is amazing to Jump start a campaign that will eventually run on other social platforms. This is best put by Tubular Labs, Facebook owns the day, Youtube Wins the Long Term Love.
Instagram that has long favored the engineered micro-videos that are 15 seconds or less have now started accepting videos of 60 seconds in length. While partially it is to take on Snapchat, it is pertinent to mention that it remains one of the most popular locations to reach out to millennials (12-24), so if your audience is in that range, Instagram provides an effective conduit for a jump start.
Twitter remains a great platform for Educational Content (Cognitive videos) and often encourages an open lively debate and interaction. Again, twitter tolerates shorter formats, much shorter than Facebook and Instagram, so videos are used here to engage and keep the audience happy.
It is important for the video to do what it says, the appetite and attention span of the users depend on what they expect from the video. While the click through rate and engagement are drastically affected by the initial cues. They are your portals that decide on how much your user is willing to watch. It is also important to understand your title, thumbnail, the image of the product and the screen text which are crucial giveaways to user expectations.
Here are some important things to keep in mind:
The video that is watched widely provides a good user experience, it satiates a need that the user is looking for. So what you want the user to take away from your content, will determine the right length. So when you are looking to make this video, you need to ask yourself a few questions, What do you want this video to achieve, what are its objectives?
Is it to entertain them, leaving them happy and recalling the brand (a very top of the sales funnel), do I want them to take an action (very middle of the funnel), or do I want to educate them (Middle to Bottom of the Funnel)?
In this age and era of competing ads, brands and the constant bombardment of visual content, just making a video is never going to be enough and making just a single monolithic video might actually do more damage than good to your brand..
Just how Bear Grylls used a multi-pointed spear to catch a fish, you need to look at ways to maximize the chance of your message being seen, stuck and penetrated, especially if your preferred platform deflects for a myriad of reasons.h
Does this mean, that you should have a big budget, no, not at all, the answer is in modularity, a smart video production agency, should be able to visualize these factors to understand and create the assets in such a way, that a video can be seamlessly multi-factored to different platforms; This way, you make one and cut them into various sizes with minimal redo and redundancy.
But, the buck doesn’t stop there, it is always important to use analytics to monitor on how your content is being received, keep an eye on the platforms and videos and keep optimizing them until you get it right.
Now that you know what it takes to elevate your video, Let’s ‘Faire Le Buzz’.