What’s the perfect video length? A guide for marketers

02nd October 2015

What’s the most contentious question from clients? It comes down to video length. How long should a brand video last? In the mobile age with distractions tempting potential customers wherever they click, we counsel that less really is more.

Let’s start with some compelling statistics. 50% more people will watch a video to the end if it’s one minute as opposed to two minutes (Wistia). With videos from 0-30s the average percentage viewed is 80%.  These high rates drop off the longer the video gets. Interestingly this levels out, and there is not much difference in engagement between a four minute or 10 minute video.

What does this mean for your video marketing…?

Can you say it in 59s or less?

If you can… keep your video to under a minute. In an earlier study Wistia showed two videos which were exactly the same except one was 30s and the other 90s. At the end of the 30s film, there were double the number of viewers as at 30s of the 90s film.

This shows that when viewers see that a film is only 30s, they feel they can spare the time, but are less inclined to do so the longer the video. Thus if you can make sure that your video is under one minute, you could actually be increasing the quality time viewers spend with your brand.


In order to keep your video short and to the point, set up SMART objectives for your film. There is a trap of thinking that the more messages you cram in, the more likely it is that some will stick. In reality they all get lost. It’s always better to have one clear message aimed at a specific target audience. Ask yourself… Who is your audience? What are your objectives? What one message will resonate with them?

Front-load your content

It is vital to put your key message at the start of the video to share what’s important to your brand and your target audience before they switch off.

Winning content engages emotionally, then handles the factual quickly and precisely before again returning to an emotional message to drive actions. Therefore try to start your video with an appeal to the emotions, then add a single key fact to back this up and end on emotion.

Digestible chunks

Another way to get more from your video content is to divide it into digestible chunks. For instance if you have a series of testimonials, you could split a two minute film into four 30s videos. Your clients will click on the testimonial which appeals to them most and is more likely to watch right through to the end.

Mix it up

In the multiscreen era your potential customers could be interacting with your brand on their PC at home, their iPad, smartphone or at work, and so you need to tell your story across channels. It’s all about context with video length and matching your content to the different stages in the sales cycle.

When you are awareness raising, a short punchy video could really work well or a series of short 6 to 15s Vine or Instagram videos could reinforce brand personality, whilst a longer film can explain your product in more detail at the consideration stage.

If you do need to make a longer video, it is still important to make a punchy opening as people seem to make a decision quite early on whether to watch or click away. Add an annotation or CTA fairly early on too in order to increase your ROI.

Content publishers

As increasingly brands are thinking as publishers rather than an advertisers, longform content can work too. If your content is engaging and relevant, people will watch and share it, but remember to front load and lead with the story.

We created a content marketing film for Red Bull which was longer than a brand ad video (just under 10 minutes long) based around a large Street Art Festival “See No Evil”. With the simple aim of associating the brand with street culture, all that was needed were a few well timed brand shots.

To conclude we advise that shorter is better. It’s just a good rule of thumb to keep you focused. Just as with written content, openings need to grab attention and if you do go longer, think about the context and key aim of the film. As with any marketing campaign, keep an eye on your stats so that you can continuously improve.

Check out our white paper for more tips on how to create awesome content.

*(Dr Simon Hampton, Psychology lecturer at the University of East Anglia)

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