Is there a perfect length for online video?

With almost half of us searching for video content relating to a product or service before purchasing – there are now more viewers watching film and video online than watching TV.

But the need for ‘to-the-point’ video is now more important than ever as our social feeds are flooded with more amusing, more interesting and more appealing videos all hoping to catch our click as we scroll past their alluring line-up.

Our natural instinct is to keep scrolling down to see what is below it – just in case we are missing something more interesting or more amusing.

With this year’s Adobe Digital Trends Report naming 2018 as ‘The year of customer experience – once again’ businesses have to leave behind their spray and pray mentality for good and focus on creating content that delivers the positive experience that online audiences expect – and subconsciously demand.

There has always been the age-old debate of “There are too many words – no one will ever read it” Vs “Don’t insult my intelligence, if copy is well written and interesting I will read it from start to finish”.

The same theory applies to film. But is there a formula to calculate the perfect portion size of film to guarantee consumer consumption satisfaction? Like the age-old copy argument above I’m a believer that if the content is relevant to those consuming it, it will be watched in its entirety.

But there is no denying that a one-size-fits-all-approach does not work when a film is broadcast across multiple social channels.

And Hubspot confirm this in a recent blog post. Their research shows that 30 second films are the most loved on Instagram – and that as the human brain can interpret imagery so much faster than text Instagram faces the highest scroll through speeds of any social platform.

They also confirm that 45 seconds is the average length of Twitters #VideoOfTheDay and that friends and followers on Facebook are most likely to like or share films of 1 minute in length.

This isn’t a new convention. Many of us got into film and motion design through our love of going to the cinema excited to see the feature length 3 minute adverts. Desperate to see the full story that had been cut down into 30 seconds shorts for TV and churned out to the masses (Squeezed in back to back with every other advertiser inbetween Emmerdale Farm and Coronation Street.)

And this is why, when creating film for YouTube you should consider this to be the cinematic equivalent of today. Here avid enthusiasts go to watch great quality content – hence the highest engagement is of films around 2 minutes in length. With YouTubers becoming the next generation of action hero’s with a dedicated fan base – achieving a packed house of streaming individuals in their audience.

The challenge for marketing agencies is to be able to adapt and to go into a film project knowing that one story has to work across at least 4 time limits. And to think about the social short being a 30 second fast-paced trailer – and the full YouTube release should be the cinematic masterpiece.


Billy Allen

Art Director


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