January 20, 2011 \ Geoff Birmingham
How Long Should a Marketing Video Be?

People often ask us, “How long should my video be?”

Our answer has always been, “Less is more.”  I suppose a couple caveats to this could be:

1. If you have a captive audience, like at an event, maybe you can extend the length; or

2. You have something really compelling that you know will hold the audience’s attention longer.

Emmy audience

Here are a couple of points to consider, however, if you expect that your website will be the main channel for sharing your video.

Online users don’t linger

According to our web marketing friends at flyte new media, most “casual” online users usually spend only a couple of minutes on the websites they are browsing.  This statistic, of course, includes people who land on your site unexpectedly and leave quickly.  Still, it’s worth noting that the attention span of online users is short, so even the people who are visiting your site with the intent to learn more about you will probably be unwilling to invest more than two or three minutes to watch a video.

Attention for video is also short

For us here at Reflection Films, we have conclusive proof of this.  We purposely chopped all of our portfolio examples down to snippets of two minutes or less, knowing that anything longer than that would have a large audience drop-off.  Even with shorter pieces, however, it’s clear from observing our audience’s viewing habits that a lot of people don’t watch from beginning to end.

In our case, we’re certain that many visitors to our site are mostly interested in bouncing quickly from one video to the next to get a quick sampling of different things we’ve done.  And we do know that people who are vetting us, rather than just visiting casually, will watch longer.  Still, for most people (us included!) staying focused for more than two minutes online is tough.


So what should we take from this?  Having a longer video that you show at an annual meeting is fine, though you should still think short.  If you want to post the video online afterwards, maybe you consider breaking it down into bite-size pieces for easier consumption.  Even better, break it down into bite size pieces and scatter them across individual pages of your site, if possible.  You’ll be able to see what snippets draw the most attention, and the separate pieces of video on different pages will have greater SEO power than one piece alone.

Photo by Alan Light