These days the general consensus is that ‘attention spans are getting shorter’, so videos have to be quick and to-the-point. But if you look at the fact that TV ads, for example, have historically always been about 30 seconds in length, then surely that just goes to prove that our attention spans are as long or as short now as they have ever been.
So, should your video be snappy or lengthy? Well that depends on a number of things, but the key is that it should be interesting from beginning to end – keep it relevant and you will have the viewer hooked for the duration. It’s not an easy skill, so we rely on our experience and sticking to a few simple guidelines when advising our clients on the right length for their video:
Abide by the rules
The normal target length for a Promo Video is 60-90 seconds, but if your video is for use on Social Media then you have to take into account the guidelines that each social platform recommends. For example, the general rule of thumb is that a video should be no more than 30 seconds, and although in 2016 Instagram started allowing videos of up to one minute to be posted, stats show that the first 10 seconds will grab the viewers’ attention, at 30 seconds you could lose up to 33% of viewers, at one minute 45% and at two minutes 60% will have scrolled on.
Don’t shoehorn info in
There’s nothing worse than having a video that shoves so much information in it is complicated to watch. This will bombard the viewer with info to such an extent that they will either switch it off altogether or skim watch and learn nothing. We recommend that you apply the ‘Magic 3’ principal – three really is the magic number – and decide on your three most important points. Centre the video around these, and only these.
We trust our instincts at AVI, and sometimes we may recommend a 60 second video, but it turns out to be a full two minutes long. This is not because we are so proud of our work that we want to showcase more of it, but it is because it “feels” like it can get away with the extra length. Ever watched a really good film and thought it was over in a flash? Well it’s the same principal – sometimes content can be so engaging that it seems to fly by and therefore having a little extra “feels” right.
Cater for your audience
It goes without saying that you are creating a video for people to learn something from, so think about the reason they are watching it and what you want them to learn. A video can be 45 minutes long if it is the coverage of an event that someone has missed and needs to view; training videos are necessarily lengthy as they have a certain amount of information that has to be included; but a promo video should be short and snappy to gain attention. If the target audience you are going for are industry experts then don’t teach them to suck eggs, tell them something in a concise way about how you can help them make what they do, better.
Location, location, location
As an add-on to point number 4, think about how and where your audience are going to view your video. If they are sat in a comfy training room with tea and coffee on tap then they are probably going to be more than happy to watch a lengthy vid. If they are viewing something on Social Media then the chances are they are viewing it on a mobile device while on the bus, on the train, on the go, so they are going to want it to be short and sweet. For those who are viewing in the office or in a more public setting, maybe they don’t want your video blaring out for all to hear, so adding some animated subtitles are usefully quiet attention-grabbers.
Just while we are on it – a good thing to note is the aspect ratios on mobile devices. 16:9 is standard widescreen, but Instagram for example is a picture-based app designed for use on mobile phones, so your video can be created square to fill more of that scrolling screen.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to consider when deciding how long your video should be, but as long as you are clear about the purpose of your video and how it is going to be viewed, then you can leave the rest up to your trusty video producer. It is our job to understand your message and suggest the best way – or in this case, length – in which to get it across.