Is longer better when it comes to explainer videos? It’s a question we’re commonly asked but before we get to the answer, we have some questions for you. We know we shouldn’t answer a question with a question, but the answer isn’t a simple “yes” or “no”. Continue reading to learn about the factors that will help determine the optimal length for your next explainer video.
Determine Your End Goal
What is your objective with this video? Are you seeking to sell a product or service, generate awareness, educate an audience, create an internal communication, develop a training module, or something else entirely? Your answers to these questions are important factors for the length of your video. For clients seeking to sell, ask yourself where in the sales funnel your viewer is and whether this is their first or fourth interaction with your product.
Sometimes a client approaches us with the goal of creating an overview video that includes all the minute details of their business, rather than succinctly telling their story. That’s where we excel. Telling the entire story of your business isn’t necessarily advisable as an effective way to entice your audience to learn more. Rather, we strive to tell the most engaging part of your story, giving the viewer just enough information that they’re compelled to click / call / take action upon watching it. We’re proficient (and efficient!) storytellers, adept at taking your big picture and translating it into a concise 60 – 90 second story. We’ve got the statistics to prove that in some cases, brevity is better, which we’ll address further on in this post.
For clients with multi-pronged businesses or those with a more complex story to tell, serialized videos are a great solution. This is a topic we’ll be elaborating on in a future blog post, so stay tuned.
Another factor to consider if you’re promoting a product or service through video is whether legal jargon needs to be included. This is a consideration for many of our clients that are under the jurisdiction of regulatory bodies, such as the pharmaceutical industry. If this applies to you, can the disclaimer appear as text on screen or does it need to be spoken, thus consuming air time? This will ultimately impact the length of your video.
Review the statistics for average viewing time when considering the length of your video. Longer videos don’t necessarily equate to lower retention rates. In a Think With Google study, users were given the option to choose between a 15 second, 30 second and 120 second video advertisement. Surprisingly, both longer formats were watched more than the shortest video, and the 30 second video had a 30% higher view through rate (watching until the end) than the 15 second video. The longer form videos also had significantly higher brand favorability results – a fancy way to measure brand recall and impact.
An additional study posted on Medium.com, shows that a multimedia company discovered that when the (explainer) video reaches 2 minutes in duration, the average views drop from 77% to 57%.
And finally, drop off rates are 5% on average at 60 seconds but increase to 60% at 2 minutes, further illustrating that the sweet spot for viewer retention is between 60-90 seconds.
Numbers Don’t Lie
So just how much can you fit into a 60 or 90 second explainer video? The industry standards we abide by that work for our clients and their videos are 60 seconds = 140-150 words and 90 seconds = 210-220 words. Our voice actors read at a moderate pace of 2.3 words per second; a pace that works well with pairing visuals and is proven effective for explainer videos. To put it in perspective, this blog entry is 997 words which would translate to a 7 minute and 22 second video!
140 – 210 words may not seem like much but our team of skilled writers and producers can wordsmith your key messages, ensuring that your objectives are met in the timeframe allocated. It’s important to remember that in the interest of time, sometimes less is more. What can’t be said verbally can often be illustrated visually and vice versa.
Depending on your requirements, 90 second videos often allow for a more fleshed out storyline, whereas 60 second videos address the key points more quickly. That’s not to say a story can’t be woven into a 60 second video; it all depends on your must-have criteria.
Once your video is complete, how are you planning to broadcast it? Is it meant for internal consumption only or are you planning to distribute it far and wide? If you answered with the latter, will it be broadcast online, at trade shows, digital signage, television or elsewhere?
The medium you choose may dictate your length. For example, television commercials are typically 30 seconds in length with some having extended versions online. With regards to social media, Instagram is a popular platform for videos of all kinds, but limits users to 60 second videos in the news feed. Instagram stories cap at just 15 seconds per slide*. Facebook videos can be up to 240 minutes in length (or, since we’re sticking to seconds for this post, that’s 14,400 of them!) and in-stream ads are 5-15 seconds in length. Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube shouldn’t be overlooked as platforms for broadcasting your content and come with their own specs regarding length, orientation, etc. These are important factors to consider when determining the length of your video.
If your video is too long for a particular format, consider including a revised cut-down in your budget. This is a popular option among our clients and can be easily facilitated by our team.
*Aside from length it’s important to consider formatting your video according to the aspect ratio. Instagram stories are formatted for 9×16 (portrait) orientation.
Our Final Answer
If you’ve read through this entry and are left wondering if we’ve cleverly skirted the answer to the question up top, it’s because we have. By now you know that there’s no right or wrong length. 60 second videos can be just as effective as 90 second videos.
It’s important to note that although we didn’t mention videos greater than 90 seconds in this entry, that’s not to say they’re ineffective. We’ll elaborate on the best time, place and space for long form videos in a future post. In the meantime, you can view some of our long form videos in our portfolio and we’d be happy to discuss examples and their effectiveness. Feel free to contact us for more information or to learn which length of explainer video is best for your business needs.