If you want our advice, your explainer video should be no longer than 120 seconds long. Based on our research, that’s short enough to keep someone’s attention, and long enough to explain what your product is; why you need it; and where you can get it.
Here’s why you should trust that judgement… the good news is, we’ve looked into it, and we’ve answered the same questions for clients on more than a few occasions. From our experience, getting the right length for your explainer video is a tradeoff between 2 things:
- How much attention will someone give you.
- How much information can you give them.
A good teacher, like a good entertainer first must hold his audience’s attention, then he can teach his lesson.
First you must get someone’s attention and hold it, whilst delivering them all the golden information you want them to leave with. We’ve already written about the best explainer videos, which looks at how to format and tell the best story. So now, let’s delve into why your explainer video should be no more than 120 seconds.
Explainer video research.
Our favourite video analysers Wistia also helped us (and the industry) with some amazing research on watch times – after all, hosting videos for over 300,000 startups means they’re pretty well placed to do it:
Engagement is steady up to 2 minutes, meaning that a 90-second video will hold a viewer’s attention as much as a 30-second video. This is surprising and actionable information for video marketers. If you’re making short videos, you don’t need to stress about the difference of a few seconds. Just keep it under 2 minutes.
Similarly BreadnBeyond found that explainer videos should be no more than 2 minutes long. “When the video reaches 2 minutes in duration, the average views drops from 77% to 57%”.
If you needed one more example to make you feel safe, Buzzsumo found (after analysing 100m Facebook videos) that shorter videos generate more engagement on average. “The sweet spot for video length is 60 to 90 seconds”.
I need a longer explainer video.
As much as there is a relation between video duration and audience retention, it’s not a set rule.
How long is a piece of string is the real answer to this question. Just like a blog article, your explainer video should be as long as it needs to be. You don’t stop reading an article half way through because you’re half way through it… You stop reading a blog article if it gets boring – rater – if you stop finding value in it.
Not every video you ever make needs to be under 120 seconds long, for the past year we’ve been explaining British Farming to a new audience. We’ve been releasing 10+ minute episodes every month and they are definitely being enjoyed.
Different videos, warrant different lengths in the same way as different videos warrant different styles. Just be sure to judge your audience, and pay attention to attention – and if you’re not sure, use the 90 second rule above.
According to Wistia “6 to 12 minute videos hit sweet spot #2”. Whereby the engagement really doesn’t drop at all between 6 to 12 minutes, so don’t sweat about cutting your video down from 9 to 6 minutes. Obviously be sure to consider the context and content type though.
P.s. Pay attention to attention.
When analysing over 500,000 web sessions, SumoMe found 80% of visitors don’t read articles from start to finish. Isn’t that an astronomical number. With that logic, you’re pretty rare if you’re this far down the page.
That’s how hard it is to find and keep someone’s attention. AND if you follow anything Gary Vee publishes, you’ll know it’s a currency that has far more clout than marketing ££’s “Attention is the most valuable asset“.
The conventional thinking, is that spending ££ on billboards or thousands of banner ad impressions will get you “attention.” Reach = attention. But it doesn’t.
“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”
Getting people’s attention isn’t achieved with money anymore.
Final thought: Did you ever stop to think about why it’s called “paying attention” – well it’s because attention is the cost of the most valuable + finite asset to everybody on this planet TIME. Many of the biggest companies on the globe are taking this for granted.
Attention is precious.
The safest assumption to make is that your viewers have short attention spans – or more specifically 8 seconds if you’re following Microsoft. The ideal length of your video is dependent on the subject matter, the industry and the viewer – so use all the insights you can and keep things interesting.