VIDEOS - How Long Is Too Long?

27 replies
I'm contemplating offering my videographer services to all of the great marketers here on the Warrior Forum, and I'm wondering if there's a common cut off point where a video simply becomes "too long" for you to click on and watch. This can mean any type of video, a review, tutorial, direct marketing piece, etc.

Consider this, if you've found a video on a topic that you're interested in watching, is there a point where it's so long that you won't watch it, and will search for another instead? If so, what's that length?

I know the adage, "it has to be as long as it has to be," but I suspect that a lot of people will simply not click on a video if it's too long for them. If a video NEEDS to be long (which I figure is past the 5 minute mark or so), should it then be split into parts? Are you more likely to watch a series of two 5-minute videos or one 10 minute video? Talk to me.
#long #videos
  • Profile picture of the author Robert Jackson Jr
    I can comment only as a viewer of content, not a creator. When I watch sales videos, it would be nice if they could make their point within 10 minutes or so. If it's a really compelling sales video, I'd go approximately 15 min. Anything beyond that can be tedious.

    As always, your mileage may vary.
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    • Profile picture of the author abdulquddus
      Hi

      you should ponder why video sharing websites limit the video time and how much
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      • Profile picture of the author MissLauraCatella
        Originally Posted by abdulquddus View Post

        Hi

        you should ponder why video sharing websites limit the video time and how much
        Do they? I've only uploaded onto YouTube thus far, and I don't have a time limit. I've seen 3+ hour long videos on YouTube. Of course, I have zero intentions of making a three hour long sales video.

        Plus, my question is more about people's general preferences and deal-breakers than anything else. Thanks for your input.
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    • Profile picture of the author MissLauraCatella
      Originally Posted by Robert Jackson Jr View Post

      I can comment only as a viewer of content, not a creator. When I watch sales videos, it would be nice if they could make their point within 10 minutes or so. If it's a really compelling sales video, I'd go approximately 15 min. Anything beyond that can be tedious.

      As always, your mileage may vary.

      Thank you! I want comments from viewers just as much (if not more so) as from other creators. Your input is really helpful, with the general flailing attention spans we all have these days (myself included, of course), it's nice to know that there IS an audience for the 15 minute video.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Duncan
    Bambii,
    This is a good question...

    I think this depends quite a bit on the expectation of the viewer when they land on your site...

    For instance, when I hit up Youtube, it seems that most videos I end up watching are quite short and to the point...

    However, when I visit a site that tells me up front (first few seconds) what they are going to be teaching, if I'm interested and have the time, I'll stick around as long as it remains interesting and helpful.

    I think the only way to really know for sure is to test though...

    One way to test this beforehand to get a better idea is to use a tool like ClickTale to see how much your video is actually engaging the viewer...

    What was quite surprising in my own tests, was how many people click the video play button, watch for a few seconds, and then leave the video playing while they start reading the salesletter.

    So again, it's important to test to really get an idea of what is going on when the average visitor hits the site where the video is going to be played.

    All the best,
    Jack Duncan
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    • Profile picture of the author MissLauraCatella
      Originally Posted by Jack Duncan View Post

      Bambii,
      This is a good question...

      I think this depends quite a bit on the expectation of the viewer when they land on your site...

      For instance, when I hit up Youtube, it seems that most videos I end up watching are quite short and to the point...

      However, when I visit a site that tells me up front (first few seconds) what they are going to be teaching, if I'm interested and have the time, I'll stick around as long as it remains interesting and helpful.

      I think the only way to really know for sure is to test though...

      One way to test this beforehand to get a better idea is to use a tool like ClickTale to see how much your video is actually engaging the viewer...

      What was quite surprising in my own tests, was how many people click the video play button, watch for a few seconds, and then leave the video playing while they start reading the salesletter.

      So again, it's important to test to really get an idea of what is going on when the average visitor hits the site where the video is going to be played.

      All the best,
      Jack Duncan
      Thank you SO much. ClickTale! Lovely. I guess I was hoping for some absolute rules to ground myself but as with nearly everything "it depends" -- I agree that testing and tracking is the ultimate key.

      And you know what, I've done exactly what you described with sales pages, started the video then left it on and started reading. Really, that's just more multi-tasking and whether it's good or bad, it's nearly synonymous with using the Internet these days. I look forward to having my own data on this stuff.
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  • Profile picture of the author 22SunnySideUp
    Great question but really broad. Different types of videos have to be different length in order to "work". Some informational videos really do need to be as long as they have to be.

    Broadcast design has a lot of rules when it comes to clip lengths and these rules work. For a teaser type video (a coming soon or a commercial spot) should ideally be between 15 - 20 secs, if not, it should not exceed 30 secs. For web this can be pushed to 40 - 45 secs but we are always told, "the tighter the better".

    A teacher once told me that for web videos add 3 - 4 secs of video for every 10 - 13 words (a couple of sentences) of text will always be on the mark. It has worked for me. The script however, the copy needs to be tight, repetitions is what makes people turn the browser off. Personally, I'd rather be short and tight than going on too long.

    Breaking tuts or information videos into 5 mins segments is an excellent idea. If you need to bounce off anything specific, i'm here.

    Sam
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    • Profile picture of the author MissLauraCatella
      Originally Posted by 22SunnySideUp View Post

      Broadcast design has a lot of rules when it comes to clip lengths and these rules work. For a teaser type video (a coming soon or a commercial spot) should ideally be between 15 - 20 secs, if not, it should not exceed 30 secs. For web this can be pushed to 40 - 45 secs but we are always told, "the tighter the better".

      A teacher once told me that for web videos add 3 - 4 secs of video for every 10 - 13 words (a couple of sentences) of text will always be on the mark. It has worked for me. The script however, the copy needs to be tight, repetitions is what makes people turn the browser off. Personally, I'd rather be short and tight than going on too long.

      Breaking tuts or information videos into 5 mins segments is an excellent idea. If you need to bounce off anything specific, i'm here.

      Sam
      Thank you! Tighter the better! All things equal, short form!!

      I'm curious, that 3 - 4 seconds of video for every 10 - 13 words, that only applies to web videos? Why? Thanks again.
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      • Profile picture of the author Deedee11
        Hey Bambii,
        What I've learned so far is get it said fast---within 1-3 mins. (I rarely watch anything longer than 2 mins and I am on YT a lot) Hold their attention with some good content and get them to click your call to action. THEN you can present to them options for longer videos. You could get them to opt in and send them some videos regularly for a membership fee. If I was to do this I would get them hooked on my stuff with some quality freebies first.

        Success to you,
        Dee
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  • Profile picture of the author emmanueljcmarquez
    For me, I think a normal squeeze page video must be around 60-90 seconds only. I mean shorter videos but with higher impact. Now use the longer videos for your website how to videos. I mean clients are already in your website, meaning they are interested in learning more about your service. So there is no way they will finish watching a 5-10min videos that will explain everything. on the other hand on squeeze pages or promo pages when you are trying people to go to your website. Make the videos shorter but with higher impact. Hope this helps
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  • Profile picture of the author Dr Livingston
    For you tube videos, I'd stick to 3 minutes or less and no more than 5 minutes. Any longer and you should split it up into 2 videos. Just like Jack was saying, sales videos are a bit different.

    You tube is so cluttered and unfocused, that it allows people to have ADD. You are better off getting the point across and quickly shifting them somewhere else, either to another video or to your offer.

    If you are doing a how to video, make your first video the teaser and then tell them to click below to see your video with the "how to" but make that video on your web page and not you tube. That's IMHO :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
    Originally Posted by bambii View Post

    is there a point where it's so long that you won't watch it, and will search for another instead?
    Yes. When I get bored.

    If you make an engaging, entertaining, interesting video... I'll watch for an hour or more.

    Make a boring piece of utter crap, and I'll be "gone in sixty seconds"
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  • Profile picture of the author spearce000
    As a rule of thumb I try to stick to the following:

    Squeeze page 1 minute - two if it's really engaging and compelling
    Promotional videos for YouTube etc. : 5 minutes max
    Instructional videos: 15 minutes is the optimum time. You can stretch it out to 20, but I find viewers' concentration starts to wander after that. If it's longer than 20 minutes, I try and break it down into Part 1, Part 2, etc. - each segment 10 – 15 minutes long.


    I think a lot of people are used to the commercial breaks on TV, and that dictates their attention span. I don't mean that in a negative way, it's just something I try to keep in mind with my videos.
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    • Profile picture of the author admnaffii
      As you know that youtube is one of the largest search engine for any kind of problem. but major question is that what should be length of video to attract viewer more and more. As i think 2-3min video gets max result.
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  • Profile picture of the author julesw
    I think people are willing to watch for longer and longer.

    I'd watch an hour if it was compelling.

    People are swapping watching TV for the web, so rather than watching an hour of someone else building their dream house, they'll watch and hour of web Video teaching them how to build a dream business.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lyanna
    5 mins or I just won't watch it most of the time if you mean IM/MMO vids. Instructional vids can be as long as 15 minutes for me but it has to go straight to the point. Longer vids have to be really entertaining.

    Just make sure it is actually a video. That's all I ask. Some IM people make a so-called video but it only has their voice and one static image.

    AFAIK Youtube only counts views if the video is completely loaded.

    So if your video is short it will get more views counted which for the user makes it seem more popular. If I found a 30 minute video with 0 views I would click away at once.

    And for the love of Mike, will people at least write a good vid description? I'm sick of videos that just say "affiliate marketing tutorial" or some such and the dude is basically talking about one page site templates and how to install fonts.

    Seriously, what use would that be to me when I already have tons of websites that aren't one page sales letters (i.e. real websites that don't suck!)?
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    • Profile picture of the author Joe Stewart
      It has to be GREAT content that's in small, easy to digest portions for me or I may become distracted. I don't mind if there are several videos in sequence as long as they're no more than 3-5 minutes each, especially if it's a series of steps where I need to take action.

      Actually, that brings up another point. Does anyone else DESPISE having to go through a long video to try and find something? You know it's in there somewhere, but you don't remember exactly where it was. Man, I hate that! :-)

      Anyway, HTH.

      My two bits.


      Joe
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  • Profile picture of the author Carol_A
    As a viewer, it depends on the delivery.

    If the content is delivered in a concise, to-the-point style, I may stay engaged longer. After 10 minutes, I usually lose interest if it is average.

    I don't need to hear the same information explained three or four different ways to 'get it.' Respect my time and average intelligence, and I may be interested for a longer period of time.

    lol
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  • Profile picture of the author Mbullard
    As a creator of over at least 500 videos online, I use 2-2.5 minutes as the magic number. If you can't say/show what you need to in 2-2.5 minutes, you quickly lose viewers. Take a look at your stats on youtube under the Insight tab. You can look at any of your videos and you'll see viewer attention drops significantly usually right around 2:20. I do agree that with engaging material or information videos you 'might' get away with 5-10 minutes. If there's something that long, we usually make a 2-2.5 minute long summarized version, offering the longer more detailed version somewhere on your site. This longer video on your site is the URL you put in your Youtube description box.
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  • Profile picture of the author MarketingMembers
    Intro / Teaser videos should be 1-3 minutes.

    Sales page videos seem to convert best after 22 minutes.
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    • Profile picture of the author edv
      Tutorial
      As much as you need. Tutorials are viewed by people who are interested in learning stuff. I personally don't mind long videos if content is good.

      Promotional
      1 minute would be my pick

      Informational
      If the video will be viewed by a specific group of people then I would recommend around 3 minutes.

      I hope I helped. This is only my opinion, based upon my personal experiences on youtube as a viewer of videos posted by others
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Grant
    If it's over 3 minutes, I skip chunks at a time to find something interesting.
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  • Profile picture of the author healingoasis
    It's been shown that if a video is more then 5 minutes, the watcher gets disinterested with the video.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Jordan
    Total running time is not the only consideration. Remember that an engaged viewer will perceive any video to be just the perfect length, irrespective of the actual running time of the video. So engage the viewer and keep their attention.
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  • Profile picture of the author Trivum
    If it's a pure sales video or a "we're great" video, then SHORT, SHORT, SHORT. ... If you are teaching something or really giving something of value, however, then it can be much longer.

    Still, "chunking" is a good idea. I'd say look for natural break points at the 2-3 minute marks, and then depending on the situation, try to decide if the next 2-3 minutes should be a completely new video or just the next section of the current video.

    I say "2-3 mintues" because I've read that's about the average view time of web videos. Of course if someone is interested in the video, they will watch a much longer video without even noticing the time, but subconsciously they still have that 2-3 minute clock in their heads.

    To help "chunk," think of it as you would writing: letters >> words >> sentences >> paragraphs >> sections >> chapters >> a book >> many books.

    Most videos would probably range from a few paragraphs to a "section" (or possible a few sections). A very long video might amount to a chapter.

    In any case, no matter the length, it's important to continually reset the viewer's attention with little tricks (movement, sound, etc.).
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