At 60 seconds more than half your audience is gone

One of the interesting facts regarding the evolution of human cognition is that, as a society, our attention span  is dwindling.

Attention spans have shrunk by over 50% in the past decade

Attention spans have shrunk by over 50% in the past decade

According to a Lloyds research tracing the causes of home accidents, attention spans have shrunk from 12 minutes in 1998 , to around 5 minutes in 2008. The Lloyds research states that when asked respondents blamed ‘stress’ (18 percent) and ‘decision overload’ (17 per cent) as the main reasons for poor short-term memory and flagging attention spans.

Product Videos – How long is too long?

The relevance to online videos, of course, is that attention spans matter particularly in terms of determining the length of your product videos. You want to make these videos long enough to deliver all of your pertinent facts, yet short enough to maintain viewers’ interest until the end. The question is, what’s that magical length?

There are two basic stats you might consider when determining your norm:

  1. The length of an average commercial
  2. The length of an average online video

How have commercials evolved?

In terms of average commercial length, Wikipedia delivered an adept and, in light of the aforementioned dwindiling of attention spans,  predictable answer:

“In the 1950s and 1960s, the average advertisement’s length was one minute. As the years passed, the average length shrank to 30 seconds (and often 10 seconds, depending on the television station’s purchase of ad time)… However, today a majority of advertisements run in 15-second increments (often known as “hooks”).”

In other words, with the progression of time, commercial length has been reduced to about 15 seconds, with a maximum of 30. Sounds (and views) about right.

What’s the length of the average Online Video?

In terms of online video length, the average length is according to ComScore a whopping 3.5 minutes. This figure may be surprising until one realizes that ComScore’s number factors in ALL online videos, including full length television episodes on Hulu, etc.

Less is More – Keep your videos as short as possible

In general, as the saying goes (and for good reason), we say, keep ‘em short and sweet – more along the lines of traditional commercial lengths at most. While video may grab shoppers’ attention, it will likely only hold it for a short time. And remember, not everyone who presses play, will watch your video all the way through.

How Much of a Typical Video Online Is Actually Watched?

How Much of a Typical Video Online Is Actually Watched?

At 60 seconds more than half your audience is gone

As the above graph based on a TubeMogul study shows, at the 30 second mark you’ve already lost a third of your audience and after a minute you’ve lost more than half, so try and get all your information in as soon as you can, in the shortest amount of time necessary.

Beyond that, as with all elements of video, you will need to continually do testing to determine if length, is influencing your results (and to what effect), and adjust accordingly.

Image credit: DeaPeaJay

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  • mike

    Hi there Jay,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    You make a good point but you haven’t considered the fundamental differences between the mediums:
    TV is basically a passive medium, whereas the Web actively encourages participation. Not to mention the trend for shortening spans of attention is well documented regardless.


  • mike

    Hi Henk
    Thanks for your input.

    You have an opinion.
    We have solid numbers.

    I’ll leave it to all future readers to decide which they’d rather trust…

    ; )

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