We've always touted the message "shorter videos are better". They tend to get straight to the point and hold attention better than a drawn-out message. We've certainly noticed measured improvements when tightening up our own marketing videos. But are longer videos inherently less engaging than shorter videos?
Now that we have a wealth of video tracking data at our fingertips, we thought we'd put the old "shorter is better" theory to the test.
The Initial Test
We worked with one of our customers who has been testing two variations of the same video. The red line in the graph above represents the engagement of their 30-second video. The blue line is the engagement graph for a 90-second video. It's expected that these two videos would have different engagement graphs, but what's odd is that the first 30 seconds of both videos are identical!
Even though viewers were exposed to the same exact content, the drop-off rate of the 90-second video was much higher. By the end of the 30-second video there were about double the number of viewers than at the same point in the 90-second video.
A Wider Look
Our initial test got us thinking. Does this hold true on a larger scale? We decided to look at completion percentages across the thousands of videos we host.
We were right! Shorter videos are more engaging than longer videos, but there are some other unexpected trends. The average 30-second video was viewed 85% of the way through, while the average 2-minute video was viewed on average 50% of the way through. That is a very fast viewership drop-off. But what's surprising is that the average viewing percentage stays quite consistent for 2-minute videos to 10-minute videos. That means the time spent watching is increasing almost proportionally with the video length during this period. Take a look:
What does this mean?
The data is quite clear, shorter videos are more engaging than longer videos. For videos 2 minutes and under, you should strive to make your content as short and punchy as possible to guarantee the highest engagement. If your video is 30 seconds or under, it's very likely that most people will watch it all the way through.
If your message is more complex, be comfortable taking the time to explain it, but understand that half of your audience won't make it to the end of the video. With this in mind, you would be well served to front-load your video with the most important parts of your message.
Understanding the relationship between video length and viewer engagement can help you ensure that your audience is getting the most out of your videos.