Villing & Company

How Long Is Too Long? Reflections on the Duration of Video Content

Frequent readers of Villing Views have experienced my oft-expressed pronouncements on the issue of long versus short relative to headlines, taglines and text.  Now I am going to turn my attention to length of video content.

Recently we produced a historical video commemorating the 100th anniversary of our long-time client, the South Bend Medical Foundation.  The video was produced to be shown at their big Gala dinner a few weeks ago.  The Gala program included a few short speeches and a fireworks show, but for all practical purposes, the video was the primary "entertainment" of the evening.

Early on, we had frequent discussions about the appropriate length for this piece.  Many people thought that any video longer than 7-8 minutes would be too much.  But as you might imagine, an organization like the Medical Foundation accumulates a great number of fascinating stories in one hundred years of history.  Try as we might, it was impossible to do justice to that history in less than 18 minutes.

Suffice it to say, the video was well received by the event attendees.  Not to be self-serving, but the pacing of the video was appropriate to the narrative and effectively held people's attention.  In fact, many people commented the video seemed shorter than it actually was.

This morning, I came across some interesting research data relative to online videos.  Here is what a blog from the Center for Media Research stated:

"Conventional wisdom in the online advertising industry dictates that because today's consumer has a short attention span, she's unlikely to put up with longer-form ads, says the report (from the Jun Group).  However, the report finds that when it comes to opt-in ads, length has less impact on completion rates than anticipated.  The completion rate for ads over two minutes dips to just 87%, as compared to 98% for 30-second ads.  In additional, across all of the campaigns studied, 70% of all views came from videos over one minute in length."

To be sure, there is a big difference between an 18-minute video shown at a special event and a two-minute online video.  But I believe the same fundamental principles apply.  The environment in which the video is viewed is an important factor, as is the way it is written and presented.  But at the end of the day, it's all about relevancy.  If the information is of interest to the target audience, is presented an engaging way and delivers essential information, length really doesn't matter all that much.  If it is being delivered to the wrong target audience and doesn't provide relevant value, any length is too long.

Novel writing might serve as a useful analogy.  If one has an interesting story to tell and it takes 500 pages or more to tell it, that's fine.  Every year, there are plenty of best sellers in that category.  Conversely, if the story lacks interest or relevancy, why bother writing it at all?

Filed Under: Creative, Content Marketing

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