Video advertising : What is the optimum length for an online video?

The length of a promotional video

The promotional videos we make for companies and brands can be anywhere between 15 seconds and five minutes. The 15 second time limit for Instagram has been the target of some very succinct videos we’ve made while promotional videos at five minutes or more can feel more like mini documentaries. My advice for clients asking the question of length is that it depends on The nature of the business, the target audience and the delivery platform. Passing traffic from the general public will usually want the story and message told quickly and concisely. 90 seconds is a ballpark figure many people feel is about The right balance between including enough information and conciseness leaving the customer wanting more. Where the target audience is more select and will want more detailed information about the product or service, two minutes or more can feel right. Where soundbites of several people are included, the video may want at least three minutes to deliver enough of a message and hook. Videos of five minutes or more are really for more serious customers. At five minutes of video can feel like a short documentary with something of the story, more detailed information and music weaving in and out.

Here are some thoughts on how video is presently being used in online advertising.


Online video advertising

This is usually of two main types

  1. ‘in-stream video ads’ are short adverts placed within the content of another video, usually at the beginning. This is similar to the TV advertising model. This is a paid placement and the revenue usually goes to the hosting site with a percentage maybe to the content provider. Some video sharing sites such as ‘Daily motion’ use this type of advertising.
  2. In-banner video ads are embedded within a banner on a website or online advertising space and usually have to be launched by the viewer.

These differ from videos destined for a successful youtube campaign which are at best, content rich with only subtle branding or advertising (branded videos)

The best length of in-stream ads seems to be about the same as tried and tested tv advertising, 15-30 seconds. In-banner and branded videos seem to be optimum around 90 seconds according to some recent data from Tubemogul analytics based on completion data (how far a viewer gets through the video before clicking away). This data is based on 100 top video campaigns with a total of nearly 20 million views. The completion rate for 90 second ads is 32.2%, 23.4% for longer ads and 17% for ads under 30 seconds. One would have thought that the videos less than 30 seconds would achieve higher completion though this is not the case. This data suggests according to David Burch at tubemogul that the public ‘don’t like 15-second TV-style spots or longer branded content, but rather short, interesting viral clips’

This adds weight to the argument that video advertising is moving away from the hard sell to more useful branded content.

The 30% completion rate though not sounding high is actually about the same as non advertising content such as TV shows and music videos. This does emphasize the need for creating compelling content at the beginning of the video. As well as a brief mention of the brand, the intro needs some outline of what the video will contain so as to maximize the chances of viewer completion.

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