What is the best Video Content Duration?

Great question. You’re probably thinking “Video Content Duration, 10 seconds to one minute long” right?! After all, we’ve all been told that nobody has the attention span for anything much longer than that. The accepted ‘Marketing Maharishis’ announce that we must keep our videos short in order to get any views.

What if I were to tell you that there are some compelling arguments for incorporating long-form videos into your 2019 video marketing strategy?
What if I were to tell you that some of the best corporate videos out there are 10, 20, and 30+ minutes long?
And, what if I told you that these types of video could lead to a far greater engagement?

I’m going to share five reasons that long-form video is a growing trend. We’ve recently created a series of long-form videos for several clients, and the reason why these work so well – it’s all about the story “Show your audience everything, tell them nothing”, well that’s one approach, but the other main reason is because of the story and emotional association. Learn when to use long-form video (with examples), how to best measure the efficacy of your long-form video, and how to get the most from it.

Long-Form Video: A Growing Trend

Before we dive in, what exactly does long-form video actually mean?

Long-form video is a video content with a longer duration than is typical for its distribution channel. Some standards place the cut-off at eight minutes, but there is no universal rule for exactly how long a video has to be before it earns the designation of long-form. Think of the last film you watched on Netflix (although a slight difference in content) the analogy rings true. If you like the story being told, you’ll watch it.

For instance, a 120 second TV spot feels a lot longer than a 30 second ad. However, a two-minute educational video might feel somewhat rushed, (depending on the subject matter). Up to 20 minutes might be optimal for complex topics (take TED Talks as an example). The structure of these videos is key (this is where the previously unappreciated pre-production is paramount).

Consumers Are Device-Agnostic

In a world of ubiquitous wifi, unlimited data plans, and a premium on free time, the preferred device for watching video is generally the closest at hand. As consumers are becoming more and more device-agnostic, the expectation is that the same high quality content will be available no matter where the user decides to watch it.

In fact, you’d be hard-pressed not to find someone watching video on any rush-hour metro commute or sitting in the reception room as they wait for a meeting. It has become the norm to access media wherever we go.

Improved video processing technology, and improved video delivery methods, mean that longer videos are no longer a problem on mobile devices.

Long-Form Video Is Just About Everywhere

For better or for worse, it’s safe to say that what becomes the norm on Facebook eventually becomes the norm everywhere online. Since early 2017, the social media giant has been making the push for long-form video. Last year Facebook had 4 minutes as their optimal viewing time – many however, failed to get anywhere close to that, why? The story being told was weak. Can you see my train of repetitive messaging here?

Facebook’s main interest is the ad spend that can be generated from long-form video. However, they are also shaping online behaviour in doing so. Facebook is now investing substantial amounts of money into long-form content series. A platform they’ve spent time and millions of dollars developing. Will it compete with YouTube? Netflix? In a realm yes indeed it will – where are the audience and what content can be delivered, what is convenient to the device-agnostic users?

Longer videos are also proving more popular for B2B videos, as in-depth educational content becomes central to many marketing plans.

The Buyers Need to Connect

Long-form video provides more opportunity for relationship and community-building. The strength of this connection might be the only differentiator between competing brands in the buyer’s eyes. Because consumers have the ability to easily compare prices and reviews of an item or service online, connecting with them emotionally is imperative to making the sale. Anyone who has met me over the past years will have heard me banging on about this.

Especially B2Bs, this is an important point because they must reach all of the people on the team who are part of the decision-making process. Long-form video grants the flexibility and the scope that is necessary to address complicated business challenges from a lot of different perspectives in a way that no other medium can. How do we communicate effectively? Well thats a whole other article, but consider how do each of us absorb information? Audible visual and from doing (or seeing it be done).

Your SEO artillery has just been upgraded

Longer videos present specific advantages for video SEO. An in-depth video is likely to cover a topic very comprehensively, meaning it’s appropriate to include more long-tail search keywords in the video’s metadata.

Further, you’ll be keeping visitors on the page for longer periods of time. Sending positive engagement signals back to search engines, indicating your page is relevant for targeted search terms.

Not only are these backlinks potentially good sources of traffic in their own right, backlinks from authoritative websites can help boost your SEO standings.

Great Lead Qualifiers

Just think… someone interested in a 5+ minute long video is less likely to be “kicking the tyres,” so to speak. They’re much more likely to be a “hot” lead ready to make a purchase soon and have committed themselves to learn more.

Using engagement analytics will tell you who who these leads are, where they are, and what parts of the video they’re most engaged with. You can use this information in your follow-up through your CRM conversation on their specific interests (as an organisation we use HubSpot for this).

Long-Form Video: Best Uses

Documentary-Style Videos

Everyone loves a good story. Long-form video presents unique opportunities to build a compelling story. You don’t have to rush the details.

Culture Videos

People love to buy into a brand’s ethos, and video is the most effective way of communicating it. Additionally, people like to feel part of a community. It’s simply the way we’re programmed.

Educational Videos

Show how your business really helps others – this is where the story of your brand and using the right agency to dedicate the time will help bring that message to life.

If you have difficult concepts to explain use animated graphics to answer questions or highlight points.

Here are a few examples of how we capture a story, the emotions and two videos we recently produced:

Behind The Scenes – The Reunion

Leading on to the full story, if you’d like to see how we captured the emotion:

The Christmas Reunion

Long-Form Video: What Gets Measured Gets Done

You’ve seen a few examples of long-form video and are likely considering making your own. You may be wondering how to evaluate whether or not your video will be a success and if it is worth the investment.

As always, it’s going to depend on your objectives. Here are some of the goals long-form video is especially suited for, and the corresponding metrics we think will be most useful to you.

Increase brand familiarity

You want to get your video seen by as many people as possible. Use total video impressions and video plays to gauge your reach.
To increase your reach, be sure to share your video with appropriate influencers, email lists, and on social media channels.

Increase engagement

Metrics like average video engagement are going to be your best friend. Why? Because the analytics will show you exactly where viewers drop off and what they re-watch.
This will help inform you about your offerings and future video marketing efforts.

Another metric to keep an eye on regarding engagement is where and when your video is being shared. Social media? If so, which platform? What blogs or forums? Are people forwarding via email? Are you receiving questions from viewers via comments or email?

All of this counts as engagement. If you notice a trend, then you should adjust your video marketing strategy (it should be ever evolving!).

Long Term Success: Summary

A lot of time, effort, and money goes into long-form video. So, we want to share a few ways for you to get as much mileage out of it as possible.

  • Series – Turn your first long-form video into a series. Use the same characters to build upon a story, topic, or theme.
  • Characters – Move those in your long-form videos across different channels to familiarise your online audience with them. People connect with people, so if you can feature a familiar face, you’ll likely build in personality to your brand/message resulting in greater success.
  • Teasers – your long-form video content. Can you create shorter video snippets to share as teasers on social media or in a blog post?

I love labouring an important point, so in the style of Jerry Springer, “Remember, the key to creating an engaging long-form video is storytelling. Each of the videos featured above found interesting angles to work with. Replicating their success requires similar efforts to find the right journalistic hook, and the right people to deliver it. Look after yourself, and each other!”

One of our most read blogs How To Create An Awesome Video Marketing Strategy, might just help you.

If you have any comments on Video Content Duration or would like to discuss how we can work together, please do get in touch with me directly. Why would we like you to consider us to be your video partner? In 2018, we produced 979 videos and we loved creating every single one of them.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Adam Ridgway.