December 5, 2011 \ Geoff Birmingham
Online video – less is more

I’ve discussed before the subject of how long a marketing video should be, and the question was one that we recently explored with a client. We are working on a series of online videos for them, and one of the videos was proving to be problematic. We watched the first draft of it and thought it was good but not great. We reviewed what we had done and decided that we were trying to pack too much into the video.

The client had told us all the special things about their organization (i.e. things they would like to see in the video!), and we had obliged.  The problem with this approach was that the video dragged and didn’t have the energy all of us wanted.  When we offered our opinions to the client, we basically told them that:

  • There were too many talking heads;
  • There were too many opportunities to lose the viewer’s attention; and
  • There were many good visuals but that they were being diluted by the length of the video.

So we suggested that the video really needed to be “ruthlessly” hacked down to its essence in order to improve the odds of  the audience remaining engaged throughout.  Initially, our guy resisted.  He said something like, “I don’t mind the video being a bit on the longish side if we are able to mention all the good stuff we have to offer.”

Our question in response to that was to ask, “But doesn’t your website give the details?”  He acknowledged that, yes, the website would fill in a lot of the details.  “So how about you let us chop out all the stuff that is the least bit boring and see what we all think afterwards?”  He agreed to our suggestion.

End result?  The video went from seven and a half minutes down to 5 minutes, which may not seem significant but is actually quite a lot – about a third shorter.  Five minutes is still a bit on the long end for an online marketing video, but there is no arguing that the current version is a much tighter piece without the flab. As a result, it feels more dynamic than it did before.

Of course, some information about the organization was lost in the process.  But that’s not really a big deal.  People watch online video in order to get a feel for what you are all about rather than to learn all the ins and outs of your business.  If your video is dynamic, then it reflects well on who you are.  If it doesn’t hold the viewers’ attention, it reflects poorly on you and they aren’t sticking around long enough to learn the details anyway.  A lose-lose situation.