How long should a viral video be?
Feb 7, 2012
We presented a video to some clients recently and one of them made an interesting comment. He was an analytics guy and he said, “I like the video, but it’s too long. All our data shows that people stop watching videos after 30 seconds.”
Really? 30 seconds? We’d never heard that before. (Incidentally, this video was 1:15.) Thing is, you can’t question an analytics guy’s data without data of your own. So we went looking for data.
How long should an online video be?
Others have asked this question and we’ve answered that it’s not a question of length, it’s a question of content. If it’s good, people will watch. If it sucks, they’ll turn it off. But still, how long will they watch? Is there an end point that’s triggered regardless of emotional engagement?
We consulted 3 pretty rock solid sources: Reel SEO, which specializes in analytics and measurement for online video marketing. Ad Age, which publishes and tracks the Top 10 Viral Videos across multiple categories every week. And Tube Mogul, the analytics company that measures views and tracks data and analytics for those Ad Age Viral Videos.
What we found was pretty consistent: successful viral videos, almost across the board, are longer than one minute and up to 5 and 6 minutes.
If you look at the top 10 viral videos every week, which Ad Age lists every Thursday, you find that few are less than 30 seconds and the majority are between one minute and 5 minutes pretty consistently every week.
Tube Mogul does the analytics for Ad Age and according to them, “The completion rate for video ads between 30 and 90 seconds are the highest.”
Reel SEO adds that length doesn’t matter. Interesting content does. “There isn’t any direct correlation between length-of-video and viral success…Length is largely unimportant so long as the content is engaging.”
30 seconds, in fact, seems to be the minimum length a video should be, not the maximum. Great brands seem to know this and use the medium to their advantage. Brands like LG, Fiat, Levis, Apple, Carlsberg, Sony Play Station, Nike and tons of others take advantage of the extra time online video affords to build an emotional appeal and tell a story, beyond the 30-second commercial.
In the end, the data seem to back up our purely emotional belief that online video affords you the time to tell stories, make jokes, suck people in and entertain them with your message, so you might as well take advantage of it.