Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash
You’ve done the research, you’ve hired a videographer, and you’re ready to make a promo video that will boost your brand and meet your business goals. But early on in production planning, you hit a snag. How long should your promo video be? Is there a golden number? We’ve heard the alarming stories of humans’ shrinking attention spans (comparing our minds to those of goldfish) and that videos over 30 seconds often go unwatched. Business owners feel a lot of pressure to have a promo video that is instantly riveting with an emotional pull, interesting information, and a compelling call-to-action, all within a 30-second span. How can your video compete in an environment of instant gratification?
Here’s the thing. Business owners are putting too much focus on the length of a promo video, when the most important focus should be on the video’s purpose and platform. As long as your content is engaging, efficient, and relevant to the viewer, the length can easily vary between seconds and minutes. It’s all about balance—and as with anything else in marketing—knowing your audience.
Different Platforms, Different Times
If a trendy band wanted to perform its latest album live and its manager chose a stuffy lecture hall as the venue, there’d be some raised eyebrows. That’s because the platform matters just as much as the content. When it comes to promo videos on social platforms, Snapchat videos are seconds long while many YouTube channels stream constantly. Facebook and Instagram tend to prefer minute-long bites while Twitter thrives around 45 seconds. While there’s no hard rule for promo video length overall, most platforms have a file size limit or a certain range that trends better for that platform. We all use different apps with different expectations for content. Long commercials can be just as effective—if not more effective—as short ads when considering platform and audience. Some of the most successful commercials range from 15 seconds to 2-3 minutes, like Chipotle’s “Back to the Start.”
Overall length aside, it’s important to remember that the first ten seconds decide your viewership. People quickly stop watching if they are not enticed by the story or if they don’t believe the product will be useful to them. Sensationalist clickbait videos are notorious for catching attention with headlines, but disappointing viewers with underwhelming content. An effective promo video has to back up its initial claims. The first ten seconds grab attention, and the first 30 seconds engage the viewer for the rest of the video. This doesn’t mean that videos should only be ten or 30 seconds long, but it does mean that longer videos can be extremely effective if the content is purposeful, relevant, and strategized.
Of course you can make short, bite-sized promo videos, but should you? The key is to keep context in mind. Consider the purpose of each video. After all, the why of making a video in the first place leads back to your business goals. Video is a tool to carry consumers along your marketing strategy, from engagement to action. According to Marcus Krieg, Wirebuzz Director of Strategy, “The perfect length for a video is just long enough to achieve its goal ... and not a second longer.” He goes on to say, “Instead of thinking about it in terms of ‘What’s the ideal length?’ think of it in terms of ‘What’s a satisfactory answer?’” Your video answers a question, first and foremost.
Consumers are looking for quality services and/or products, and in coming across your content, they’re asking if your business is the one to provide that for them. An explainer video can be enormously effective in showing them that, yes, you are the trustworthy partner they’ve been looking for. Taking the time to provide a full, engaging answer is far better than providing a snappy, bite-sized clip that leaves the consumer wondering and wandering. The key is comprehension over concision.