How Long Should Marketing Videos Be (2021)?
First off, I should say that we have a code at Early Light Media that we keep internal. Like a 10 commandments. One of them is “Cherish the viewer’s time.” Every second of the viewer’s time must be earned and honored. We seek never to waste a moment. Redundancy, irrelevance, and wasteful indulgence meets our cold, unforgiving blade, “Chronos.” We don’t look back.
I sure don’t like prescribing a set length. As a storyteller, I was always told the story is over when the layers stop unfolding and as long we’re not being indulgent or wasteful, let the story ride out. But practically speaking, especially for marketing, it’s good to have a length in mind. And damnit if that english teacher wasn’t right when he gave that arbitrary feedback that we rolled our eyes at such as “reduce paper by 10%.” For some reason or another, being forced to shorten often does give your product more punch (Quentin Tarantino’s movies have gotten a little slack in this regard). Not to mention, it will help your video production company understand the scale of the project 🙂
To determine length, there are two items you should know: how it will be shared and what the overall goal of the video is.
First, the length of your video depends heavily on where you intend to post your video and the contents of your video. Each social media platform will require a different length video to be in line with what its users are expecting. The contents of your video also need to fit the demographic you are targeting. Youtube is a place where you can post much longer videos (longer is rewarded with better SEO), while a site like Instagram demands a shorter ad.
Here is the definitive guide on how long videos should be.
Let’s jump into social media. 45% of the total population uses social media with over a million people joining each day. That is a huge audience and each platform requires a different length of video to appeal to its users based on user experience and the expectations set by the platform.
1. Twitter: 45 Seconds
Twitter is a site with limited characters for a reason. The users are there to read something quickly and they are not going to stop and watch a five-minute-long video. Keeping your video a length that the users will be willing to watch is important if you want your video to succeed.
Twitter allows its video ads to go a bit over two minutes. That being said, you should not exceed forty-five seconds when posting a video ad on Twitter. Between twenty and forty-five seconds is the best length to get engagement without going too long and losing interest.
2. Instagram: 30 Seconds
Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the world. Instagram is one of the best platforms to get engagement and advertise both in ads and on stories. Instagram gives you a full minute for your ad if you choose to go that long.
The ideal length for an Instagram ad is thirty seconds or less. This is best for the scrolling platform that has users that are not used to having to pause for long to enjoy their media. Keeping the video short and sweet on your viewer’s timeline will increase their chances of viewers watching and you getting your products out there.
Instagram TV is a different story as the users that use it are used to longer, more cinematic ads. An IGTV ad can go up to ten minutes. It is better to make sure your ad is relevant that it is to push to fill ten minutes of screen time with an ad people will want to skip over.
Finally, Instagram live is a great way to advertise if you have someone willing to take up the kind of time it requires. If you can not find a way to talk to your viewers for ten minutes or more than this is not a good way for you to advertise. The longer you talk the more viewers will tune in and the more engagement you will get.
3. Snapchat: 10 Seconds
You get ten seconds to say your full ad on Snapchat. This is usually not enough time to put your full message in and get viewers. Snapchat is a very quick platform and its users expect ten seconds or less and quick information.
There is no point in trying to fit everything you want to say into the ten-second limit. Instead, the best way to advertise on Snapchat is giving a quick idea of what you do and then providing a link for your potential customers to follow. That way you can get some interest and see how many people are actually following your link and showing interest.
Because there is no way to get all of your information into ten seconds it is best to provide a link or state a website to visit for more information. This provides viewers with a place to go and ads some mystery to your ad that is more likely to bring Snapchat users.
4. Facebook: 2 Minutes or less
Facebook allows for some of the longest videos on social media and has the sort of demographic that might actually view a longer ad. The limit in video length for Facebook is four hours. Do not post a four-hour ad unless you truly feel your ad is interesting enough to keep people watching that long.
The ideal length for a Facebook ad is twenty-four to ninety seconds. That is absolutely the longest time traditional social media platforms allow and viewers on Facebook clearly are more willing to stop and view a slightly longer video. This provides the time for a more traditional video than you will find on any other social media.
Facebook Live works very similar to Instagram Live and the rules of advertising are pretty much the same. Which is to say, do not go live unless you are willing to talk for more than ten minutes so you have time to get viewers. You can go for as long as you wish and the longer you film the more interaction you will get from viewers and the more people will tune in.
5. LinkedIn: 5 Minutes or less
LinkedIn is an entirely different form of social media than the ones listed above. This is a site for professionals looking for business opportunities and checking out what other businesses are doing. That means they are much more likely to watch an informative ad that might appeal to their company or job.
This allows for much longer ads than even Facebook users will tolerate. LinkedIn ads are best between thirty seconds and five minutes long. The length you should use depends on how much relevant information you have to present that you feel will appeal to LinkedIn users.
Do not make an ad longer just because you can. The quality of your ad matters more than the length. Making a five-minute ad that could have been condensed into thirty seconds is a waste of your time as well as the viewer’s time.
6. Pinterest: 30 seconds (longer for tutorials)
Pinterest has become more ad-friendly over the last several years. Because Pinterest is more for quick information than sharing and posting, it is important that your ad lines up with that. That being said, your Pinterest ad should be somewhere between fifteen and thirty seconds.
Many Pinterest ads are used as more of a tutorial than on any other social media platform. If you are doing an example video it can go for longer than thirty seconds to show the whole process. This is a very popular ad format on Pinterest that seems to do well with its viewers.
Your demo video could be up to thirty minutes long, but try to keep it short and sweet. Remember that a lot of Pinterest has to do with aesthetics and make sure any still image you place on your ad is pretty to look at and very pinnable. That will increase engagement on this information and aesthetically focused platform.
7. Youtube: 20 Seconds for Pre-roll, 15:00 for channel videos
You might find this stat hard to believe but the average length of a page one youtube video is 14:50. So if you want to blow up your channel, make ‘em long and informative. Check out our infographic for some extra tips.
And for sponsored ads, Youtube is becoming the most popular place to advertise and will soon render traditional TV useless. This is a great place to advertise with pre-roll ads. Unskippable ads on Youtube are one of the most profitable ways to advertise and are a good way to get most of your information across before the viewers can click away. They can be up to :20
If you have a skippable ad or a True-view In-Stream ad, you will have five seconds to get the viewer’s interest before they are allowed to skip. That is not a lot of time, but it can be enough to state what your ad is going to provide your viewer and allow them to get interested. The better you do at gaining interest in the first five seconds of your ad, the more likely it is your viewer will stick around for the rest of your ad.
How Long Should Video Be For Digital Channels?
The ad length on digital channels changes as much as they do on social media. It all depends on what your audience is willing to view. If your audience is looking for something specific they are probably not going to want to pause to watch a long ad.
There is not a one-size-fits-all for customers any more than there is for websites. It all depends on the channel and the viewer. Just like in social media, the general rule is to keep your ad under a minute.
1. Website: 90 seconds or less
The first rule to videos on the homepage or landing pages is to keep your video above the fold so it is the first thing your customer sees. The second rule is to keep it short. No one goes to the landing page to watch an ad so make sure yours is quick enough that your viewer has no time to get bored.
It is unlikely your customer is going to be willing to watch an ad on a landing page for over 90 seconds. An interesting video that can hold viewers’ attention is the best way to keep them watching and sell your product. You should keep your ad between thirty and sixty seconds.
Making your video a minute long requires getting a viewer’s attention quickly. A fifth of viewers will click off within the first ten seconds of an ad. Your ad needs to capture attention quickly and be able to hold it for a few seconds longer to be considered successful.
2. Sales Pitch: Depends
The length of your sales video depends heavily on how deep into the sales process you are. If you are on a cold sale, keep your video short and informative. A cold sales video should not exceed thirty seconds and should only contain relevant information.
On the other hand, if you are deeper into the sales process you are probably going to be answering more questions than you would be at the beginning of the process. That allows for videos that can last for several minutes as they provide answers to common questions and more in-depth information. If you have a relationship with the people you are selling to, you can tailor a video to the sort of company they run and the sort of information you know they need in order to go into business with you. It also depends on the complexity and price tag of what you’re selling. We’ve worked with companies who were pitching the government for $500m contracts and needed long, explanatory videos. If you’re selling vacuums, maybe not so much.
A sales video is very personal to each type of sale. If you are trying to go into a sale cold it is best to keep your video short. A longer video can be used for clients who you have a more established relationship with and who have had time to form questions.
3. Event Videos: 12 minutes or less
One of our most popular offerings is telling stories for events. Many times, we’re doing mini documentaries or longer ones in order to emotionally engage the audience. Sometimes it’s for fundraising events or end-of-year gatherings. This is when you have a captive audience and you can take advantage of the collective energy that makes the viewing experience so much more potent, similar to watching a film in a movie theater vs at home. We have made 20 minute films for these events that have been well received, but in our experience try to keep it below 12 minutes if it’s very engaging.
As with anything, don’t make it long just to make it long. Every second must be engaging.
How Long Should Videos Be By Type?
Each type of video has a different goal to get it right. A promo video is likely going to be much shorter than a video demoing your product. This keeps your client from getting overwhelmed but also gives you time to provide all the information your client will need.
1. One-on-one Sales Videos: 60 Seconds
This is the video you will be showing when you are trying to quickly explain what you are selling and why your customer should buy it. This video should be quick and informative with no extra fluff added. The purpose of a one-on-one sales video is to inform and setting up a foundation for sales.
This type of video should not exceed a minute in length. It is a very short introduction to your business and what you are selling. After that, most of the selling is going to be answering questions and explaining the key points of your video in more depth.
The only time a video in this setting should be longer than a minute is if your client requested more information in a later meeting. Then you may show a longer, more in-depth, video that answers questions. This is to keep a dialogue of questions and interest going instead of boring them and answering everything they could ask with a video instead of a conversation.
2. Promo Videos: 30 Seconds
Think of your promotional video much like a commercial or radio advertisement. It should be about a minute long, maybe a little less, and interesting. You want something in there that grabs clients and makes them take notice.
This is a format that many big companies have been using for years and it has been proven to be quite effective. You want your video to be short and snappy so that it is memorable but not boring or too much information all at once. This is likely a video your customer will be seeing at the start of your working relationship and you do not want to overwhelm them.
3. Explainer Videos: 90 Seconds or less
An explainer video is often used after your client shows some interest and asks for more information. The goal of this video is to explain your product or services in the simplest terms possible so a sale can be moved forward and there is no confusion. Read more here.
This video can be anywhere from a minute to ninety seconds in length. This span of time is enough to expand on information without getting dry or taking up too much time. It also allows your clients to form more questions as they gather information.
4. Culture Videos: 2 Minutes or less
This is a video meant to show how fun your company can be. This is often used to bring in new employees or show customers how well your business runs. A culture video is meant to be short and fun.
This should not exceed two minutes and might be better kept even less than that. It needs to be shot by professional videographers so that production value is high and you can show how great your company really is. Film parts of the holiday party or company retreat to fill this video with fun and gain interest.
5. Demo Videos: 10 Minutes or less
A demo video should be exactly as long as it takes to show the process you are trying to demonstrate and not a second longer. This can be anywhere from two to ten minutes in length depending on the difficulty of what you are teaching. Any longer than that can be overwhelming and often has too much filler and not enough information.
These videos should be separated into short videos for each separate topic so none of them get too long. This will keep the demos short and informative as well as making sure you stay organized.
6. Tutorial Videos: 5 Minutes or less
We’ve made a number of master classes for clients and always find that any more than 5 minutes and people start to tune out, so it’s better to break it up.
This video will be very similar to your demo video except it will be a step by step break down that might take a bit longer than just showing what you are doing.
A tutorial is going to take up more time to film than a demo as you will be breaking down each step as you perform it. Make sure every step is clear and easy to follow before you present this tutorial.
7. Case Study Videos: 10 Minutes or less
A case study video is going to be a bit longer at maybe five to ten minutes. This allows you to get all of the information and facts without it being too squished together. A video like this will be used on clients you have spoken to before to keep them updated on your studies and what your company is doing.
These can always be edited into smaller clips to send separately if you feel that would be better for your clients. As long as you keep them factual and easy to understand.
8. Testimonial Videos: 2 Minutes or less
This is an interview based video with broll (documentary-style in nature), that interviews someone about their experience with your company or product. This type of video is extremely useful if you have a client who is getting close to purchasing and just needs a little extra confidence. We are in the world of reviews these days. Make yours a 5 star.
You don’t want them much longer than two minutes unless it’s the most epic of tales and even then you don’t need it to reach your goal here.
Professional video lengths for marketing or paid ads are important. The best way to make sure you are reaching the people you want and holding interest is to make sure your video is the right length. This will show you care about the content you put into the world and your client’s time.
Go forth and conquer your video marketing, Ladies and Gents. If you need guidance on your video strategy or need videos produced, contact our team of award winning producers and strategists.