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What’s the ideal length for online videos? Add to ...

It’s been proven beyond a doubt that good online videos can translate into sales. Still, questions linger when it comes to video best practices for business owners.

One of the most common questions my clients ask is whether they should produce long-form content on their websites, or work with shorter videos.

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In marketing and advertising, we break video lengths down in the following ways:

  • Bite-sized: under 30 seconds
  • Short videos: one to five minutes
  • Long videos: Over five minutes

Some industry reports state that viewers prefer longer videos, while others argue that consumers only have the attention spans for short video clips. So, what’s the best length of video for your business? Truthfully, it depends on the following three things: intent, message and audience.

Bite-sized videos

The popularity of bite-sized clips has been underscored with the acceleration of social video apps such as Twitter’s Vine and Instagram Video.

Vine’s Dom Hofmann says, “posts on Vine are about abbreviation – the shortened form of something larger.” Video clips on Vine max out at 6 seconds, while Instagram video allows for 15 seconds.

Aside from puppy and food videos, these super short video lengths have also quickly made their way into big business. Take “Lowe’s Fix in Six,” for example, which features DIY projects in digestible bites. Useful, relevant and regular: this is one example of a brand cracking the bite-sized video code.

Bite-sized videos are not all about using these social apps though. Many brands and businesses are creating video blog or video ad content that run 30 seconds or less and seeing great results. It can also be great when it comes to piquing viewers interest and driving consumers to check out your longer form content, too.

Short-form videos

The average user watches 22 hours of video per month, according to ComScore, and a majority of those videos are short-form and consumed via social media. The majority of our business clients begin with short videos, which are perfect for placing on the front page of a website, distributing via social media and embedding in newsletters or sales presentations.

When strategized and produced properly, they provide a relatively quick overview of whatever message you are trying to get across – corporate profile, product demonstration, testimonials, etc. – but doesn’t drag on.
 Long-form videos While short-form videos may be useful in capturing the audience’s attention and delivering core messaging, long-form video content can offer deeper engagement for those viewers wanting more information. Offering in-depth information about a business, product or service, these videos are produced to tell an entire story versus part of one.

According to a report from Ooyala, long-form video content now accounts for a majority of online video views. That said, the percentage of viewers who watch more than three quarters of long-form online video is low, which shows that longer videos have overall lower engagement levels.

Summary

When contemplating video length, ask yourself the following: can I tell this story in one minute, as opposed to 10 minutes, or 15 seconds as opposed to five minutes. Brevity in online video production can have huge impact on the overall success rates of your video content, as does consistent and regular release.

In the end, it comes down to your business purpose and target audience. Once you have nailed that down, video lengths can be matched to your goals; whether that be bite-sized clips, a short profile video, an in-depth video – or perhaps a combination of all of the above (which often works for most businesses).


Lisa Ostrikoff is a TV journalist and anchor-turned-creator of BizBOXTV, a Canadian online video production, advertising and social media marketing agency. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook .

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