What is the ideal length of an online video? | Q and A Video

What is the ideal length of an online video? | Q and A Video


NOTE: The audio is a bit scratchy until 1 minute 43 and then is perfect for the rest of the video. Sorry for the inconvenience, I guess sometime Google Hangouts has occasional tech issues.

Hello everybody this is Marcus Seeger; I’m the owner and video profit strategist at Video Experts. Welcome to our Session 2 of the Video Marketing Q&A.

So this is live, every Monday at 12.00 noon AEST. Thank you very much for joining me today.

So let’s get started. Before I actually get into the main question that we’re going to be answering today, I’m just going to touch base on a question that came up two weeks ago in our Q&A. So that was a question about how to add a link to your website from a YouTube video. So I covered that and I just wanted to make a reference to a fantastic How To YouTube channel by David Walsh from over in the UK so if you just search in YouTube for David Walsh, W-A-L-S-H, he has a video about actually linking your website to your YouTube video so please check that out. Whilst it is six months ago, old, there is one small change that has happened since it is recorded and that is to add an associated website, go to the advanced channel settings instead of just channel settings, and this will get you into that section that you need.

Apart from that, the actual video by David Walsh is fantastic and I recommend his channel for all things YouTube.

Okay so let’s move on to the question of the day. This is from Justin Fankhauser from TopLock:

“Hi Marcus, love the Q&A sessions. What is the ideal length of an online video?”

Wow, okay. So that really is a fantastic question and thanks very much for asking it. Now look the answer to this is actually very simple; it needs to be as long or as short as it needs to be. Really, that’s it. There are no set in stone rules. So this is actually a complex question, but there’s an easy answer, it needs to be as long or as short as it needs to be.

Okay so let’s actually dig deep and explore this a little bit further. I’m sure you’re just dying to know what I’m really meaning here. So over the last week I just thought about all the different lengths of videos that I’ve watched, and I’m just going to run through some of them here.

So, one of them is – the shortest one – which is actually under 30 seconds. This was a trade testimonial filmed on site using a smartphone uploaded straight to YouTube. Perfect length for its purpose.

The second one is actually one that we made at Video Experts that was released just last week. It is 60 seconds in length and it’s a promo for the footy tipping, so in Australia we’ve got the AFL and the footy season just started at the weekend, so we put together a footy tipping promo for our client. Now, 60 seconds, again that was the perfect length for what we needed to communicate.

The third video is actually one that I just watched over the weekend by Michael Gebben, if you haven’t checked out his work, search on YouTube Gebben, G-E-B-B-E-N, Michael Gebben. So his video that I watched called Take Massive Action – Action Beats Perfection was actually about six and a half minutes, and that again was the perfect length for that video.

Interestingly enough, Michael had no cuts, it was one angle, one camera, but his energy and his content took me as an audience member through his video and six and a half minutes, no problem, that was absolutely great. So thanks Michael, I do enjoy your channel.

And the last one, this is one that I’ve mentioned before, it’s the Marie Forleo B-School promo video – the first one. There was actually a series of three when all the promo was going up about the upcoming B-School launch of the school – the eight week course. So that first video was 15 minutes or thereabouts from memory.

Now 15 minutes, that’s pretty long isn’t it, really? If you think about what we expect web videos to be, you know, typically we’re looking at the two to three minute mark. But hey, the 15 minutes absolutely worked amazingly well for that video. It couldn’t have been any shorter, it couldn’t have been any longer – it was what it needed to be.

So there you go, isn’t that interesting? We’ve ranged from 30 seconds all the way to 15 minutes and each one of those videos was the perfect length for what it needed to be. So how do you determine what length is ideal for your video? Well I’ve got five strategic guides here that I’m going to share with you today that will help you make that decision.

  1. Okay so the first one is your audience; who is going to watch the video and when? Is it live or screened on demand? Will they be in a hurry to watch the video, or relaxing after work? Will they need the information fast? Will they be wanting to delve deep? Who is your audience – this is the number one question that I always ask myself with any video that I’m making for a client.
  2. Okay number two; purpose. Begin with the end in mind. What is the end action you want your audience to do? Is it to subscribe, to buy, to sign up, to sign in, to call you, to email you, to request information? What are you looking for your audience to do? Depending on the sales cycle that that audience is in could determine the length as well. So, purpose.
  3.  What is the platform that this video will be viewed on? Is it a smartphone, a tablet, a desktop computer, on TV, on YouTube, on your website? These are very, very different mediums and if you anticipate that your audience will be watching your video on a particular platform here, that could also determine and have an influence on the ideal length of the video.
  4. Context: what other information is your audience experiencing when they’re watching this video? Is it a stand-alone video on YouTube, amongst a whole bunch of other videos that they might be watching? Or is it on your website with all your branding and lots of other information around it? This could also determine not only content but what we’re talking about here is the ideal length of your video.
  5. Content: don’t overcook your information, be as precise as you can and don’t waffle. Okay, pretty standard advice there, let me give you an example. You might have a student who’s trying to write a 3000 word essay but really doesn’t know his topic or her topic for that matter, tries the fluff it out. Look I remember doing this myself back in Uni days, I have to admit, you know. I would have been better off just writing a 500-600 word, very precise, very concise, information about what I knew, rather than try and pack it out to that length. And the same thing applies to video; don’t spend over a mountain of time communicating information that you can actually condense down and communicate quickly and clearly.

So, there we have it. To summarise, don’t be locked into a set length for your video, if anyone tells you “you need a video that has to be two minutes”, ask them why, why do they think that? And use the five guides that we’ve just gone over; who is your audience, what is the purpose, what is the platform, and the context, and the content? They all determine the ideal length of your video.

So I really hope that’s given you some ideas about your next video and how long it should be. Until next week, enjoy everything that is out there in the world of marketing and pay particular attention what people are doing to video. I’d really like to hear any of your questions that you might like answered on this Monday Q&A.

So, love to hear your feedback as well, please leave some comments or send me a message, I’d really like to hear from you – and keep those questions coming. Remember to use the hash tag #veqanda to let me know of any questions you might like answered.

Thank you very much for watching and have a fantastic day!


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