How people watch video content and ads during COVID-19

12th May 2020

Why wildlife webcams are showing us audiences will watch video differently in lockdown

Creating a video with optimum duration for social media can quickly become a minefield for marketers. But now, in the midst of a global lockdown, understanding audiences and how they consume video is even more of a challenge.

As part of Hurricane’s #lockedinbutnotout series, we are examining how to make sure your video is successful on video YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter. We look at how we have entered an outlier period in which audiences’ behaviours have changed and videos are being watched for longer in lockdown.

With one in five of British workers furloughed, the end of April saw the average amount of internet data traffic increase 24 per cent since before the lockdown in the UK. As video already accounts for half of the internet’s traffic, it is inevitable that our audience’s lust for the medium has not only skyrocketed but evolved.

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Nothing has brought video’s new chapter sharper into focus than the rise in popularity of wildlife webcams that are being streamed by zoos and charities across the globe. In these uncertain times, we are being drawn towards emotional and authentic stories which is why viewers are turning their attention to the longform social drama of wildlife cams. Edinburgh Zoo had more than 3 million people watch their Panda Cam since March and Marwell Zoo in Hampshire has seen a staggering 27,000% increase in people watching its lemurs and penguins.

Furthermore, we are using the internet differently and at different times of day. The most recent data shows us that there has been a significant change to when people are online and therefore when we should post on social media platforms. LinkedIn has always had fairly consistent optimal times for brands to post, with successful engagement seen Tuesday through Thursday, typically between the hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m and the worst time on weekends or outside of business hours. However the latest research by Sprout Social suggests we now need to post a little later in the week with “The current best times for LinkedIn are Wednesday at 3 p.m, Thursday at 9–10 a.m. and Friday from 11 a.m.-noon.”

We know audiences are exploring and discovering video differently at the moment and a common question is “how long should a video be”.  This is a more difficult question than ever to answer but in general, people are staying with video for longer. To help you with duration we have included an appendix of the best video lengths for each social platform at the end of this article (based on data from Vidyard). Bear in mind the COVID-effect on how long people are watching some kinds of video. Webinars and long-form content are more popular than ever so you can afford to let these run longer than normal.

Longer in lockdown – Long features on social channels

Now is the time to focus on the long-form features of social channels. The changing landscape for marketeers presents great opportunities to explore social media platform’s less used features.

Although LinkedIn allows you to add links for videos with huge durations, like many of the webinars currently on our feeds, we recommend posting natively for higher engagement, so why not try making the most of their newly upped duration cap of 30 minutes.

Despite a tricky start with IGTV, Instagram has improved its features to attract more marketeers and creators. Not only do videos no longer have to be vertical (9:16), an excellent opportunity lies with a preview of your IGTV video now being posted in your Stories feed to attract more traffic. If your audience is on Instagram why not try IGTV with new content or repurposing YouTube videos for up to 60 minutes.

Durations might be changing during lockdown, but there are some other common principles that should exist in all video that are not going anywhere. These cover structure, messaging and customising your content for each platform.

Get to the point

Firstly, even though audiences may be online longer, it is essential to ‘get to the point’. The evidence tells us 65% of people who watch the first three seconds of a Facebook video will watch for at least 10 seconds, and 45% will watch for 30 seconds so you must capture and then hold their attention. Audiences need to know from the start what to expect from the video, whether it is going to solve their problem or show them something interesting. If you fail to do this they will not hang around and watch the rest of the video, they will simply click on and thus potentially damage your search ranking or brand.


We know ‘one size fits all’ does not work for video, so you will likely need to make multiple versions of your video to suit the platform’s preferences. This could mean a subtitled version for LinkedIn or a square (1:1) aspect ratio for Instagram to name a few. This may seem like some heavy lifting but customising your videos will ensure it is tailored to your viewers and is crucially algorithm-friendly.


Now, let’s focus on what you want the video to do. Once you have a clear plan for its purpose, it should guide you to an optimal length. You need to examine whether you want the video to explain something quickly or in detail or even maybe somewhere in between. You must never take your viewer’s time for granted so make sure you are capturing their attention and imagination in a time frame appropriate to the content. This is a win-win scenario as you give the viewer something valuable and thus gain the opportunity to grow real long-term brand growth as they decide to watch more of your videos.

Enjoy exploring the ever-changing world of video marketing and remember to get to the point, customise and don’t forget to focus on the purpose of the video.

Alex Jupp, Executive Producer


Appendix: VIDEO DURATION GUIDE   (*based on data from Vidyard)

Best Instagram video duration

30 seconds or shorter,  try to cover your key message in the first 15 seconds.

Best Instagram Live video duration

10 minutes minimum and the longer the better  (more air time can collect more viewers)

Best Facebook Video duration

24 to 90 seconds.

Best Facebook Stories video duration

Max 20 seconds with key messages in the first to 10 seconds

Best Facebook Live duration

10 minutes minimum and the longer the better  (more air time can collect more viewers),

Best Linkedin Video duration

30 seconds to five minutes,

Best LinkedIn video ads duration

15 seconds is ideal, maximum 30 seconds.

Best YouTube video duration

YouTube two minutes or less.

Best Youtube video ads duration.

15 to 20 seconds if you’re using pre-roll ads. YouTube bumper ads six seconds

Best Twitter video duration

20 to 45 seconds long.

Best Pinterest video duration

15 to 30 seconds, (except explainers or demo’s which can be longer).

Best Snapchat video duration

10 seconds max. It’s short so drive traffic to longer content on other platforms

Best homepage video duration

30 to 60 seconds.

Best landing Page video duration

30 to 60 seconds. (one-fifth of landing page viewers bounces after 10 seconds. One-third bounce within 30 seconds).

Best email video duration

45 seconds or under

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