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What’s the Right Length for Your Video | Sparkhouse

SWEET SPOT: WHAT’S THE RIGHT LENGTH FOR YOUR VIDEO?

When you’re kicking off a new video marketing project to promote your product, service, company, brand or new technology, you need to think through every detail of the video to ensure you’re set up for success and not wasting your hard-earned marketing dollars. One aspect that people often overlook is choosing a strategic length for their production—one that gives the audience just enough information to pique their interest and motivates them to take action while respecting the content restrictions of various video platforms. 

Since there is so much digital content at people’s fingertips today, a video that rambles on or doesn’t get to the point quickly can lose viewers fast. On the other hand, if you don’t provide enough details, you’ll frustrate your audience and risk alienating them. Think out your length strategy early in the process, as your timeframe will essentially guide many other components of your video, including the concept, editing style, script, visuals and voice-over, not to mention your budget. 

So what exactly is the sweet spot for an effective, engaging video? This is actually a trick question, since each video is a little different, but there are strategies you can apply to help you get clarity on the subject. Here are a few nuggets of professional video-making wisdom to help you determine your next video production project’s sweet spot. 

Shorter is not necessarily better

While it’s true that viewers’ attention tends to be on the short side these days, that doesn’t mean they won’t stick around to watch something interesting. It’s just a careful reminder that you need to get creative and grab their attention QUICKLY before they move on to something better. Once you have your audience’s focus, though, don’t squander the opportunity. Do what you can to keep them entertained for the full duration. 

Start with a clearly defined purpose 

Your big-picture video goal should help you decide on the type of video first, which will then guide you in planning out how much time you’ll need to tell your story. Here’s a list of different video types and objectives, and the general lengths they tend to follow:

  • Commercials are generally aimed at trying to drive sales or traffic, normally anywhere from 6 to 60 seconds depending on where they’ll be shown. 

Watch this Facebook ad for Zyliss knives, nicely shaped at a crisp 15 seconds:

  • Testimonial videos are used to build trust, usually within 60 to 90 seconds (or longer if they’re really compelling)

Watch this testimonial-style video by DICE with a flare for entertainment and storytelling that clocks in at almost 4 minutes long: 

  • Training videos are intended to educate customers, usually starting at 60 seconds and going up to 10 minutes

Watch this juicy training video by Q-See that runs more than 4 minutes:

  • Long form ads attempt to both educate AND sell, usually starting at 90 seconds on the low end and ranging up to several minutes long 

Watch this long form sales ad by Teracube that is just over 3 minutes long:

Make sure all the key points are included

Many companies go with a “shorter is better” approach, but if your video doesn’t cover all the messaging needed to accomplish your goals, the whole project literally falls short. If your video leaves the viewer lost or confused because the story is rushed, and skips some key content, you’d be much better off stretching it to a comfortable length. 

Consider the delivery specs

Yes, where your video will live should influence both the look and length of your finished product. Think about the delivery and distribution factors before you decide, since these specs might force your video to be a very specific length for maximum effectiveness and reach. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the social media video ad standards currently in effect:

  • Facebook in-stream ads will ideally stay between 5 to 15 seconds, though technically the platform allows you to go up to 31 seconds
  • Facebook newsfeed ads should be capped at 15 seconds in length
  • Youtube pre-roll ads are strongest between 15 to 30 seconds
  • Instagram in-feed video ads can be up to 60 seconds long
  • Instagram story video ads can be up to 15 seconds long

Remember that getting your message across in an entertaining and engaging way—within your sweet spot time frame and pre-set budget—is both an art and a science. Let the creative video experts at Sparkhouse help you do it right. 

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