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Short form video gets short, short, and shorter

short form videoThe last time I wrote a blog about short form video was in 2014.  Back then I was talking about videos between 30 seconds and two minutes. Now, according to some recent data, two minutes is an eternity, and even 30 seconds might be a bit long.

First, let me backup. Long form video used to be any video content over 10 minutes long. That’s the generally accepted length as defined by Google, IAB and others. So you might think that short form video is, well, just shorter than that. And it is, but you’ll find some argument about the details because everyone has a different idea of how short is short. For online and mobile video two minutes was kind of the top. Something five minutes long hung out there in no man’s land in between the two.

Now though, you’ll probably need to forget all of that as things are getting short and shorter. In the last year or so, many video services started using a really small chunk of time. For example, six second video became popular as more and more people shared them over social networks. Though I can’t say for sure, I believe that got brands wondering “What can we do in six seconds?”

Some examples

The marketing company Opera Mediaworks published a study that covered ten of their major mobile advertising clients including eBay, British Heart Foundation, and Mattel. In the study they looked at two different types of videos: branding and product focused.

For branding videos run as mobile advertisements, they found that the shortest ones performed best. On average, 36% higher engagement than long form (Long form appears to be anything over 15 seconds!). Engagement in this study refers to someone taking action on the video, like clicking a “learn more” button or something like that. They also discovered the shorter the video the more traffic it generated for their website.

In one particular example, a campaign for Stella Artois, a six second version of a branding video had 60% more engagement than a 15 second version. Both of those videos are certainly short form in the traditional sense, but it’s astounding to get such good performance out of just six seconds! The ad must have been very tantalising.

The other type of video they examined had the opposite results. Product focused videos performed better when they ran between 15 and 30 seconds on mobile. On average about 30% higher when the viewers were asked to click to “Find Out More”. A specific campaign they discuss is for Lynx, in which viewers are asked to click on a button that says “Locate Store”. They saw 38% more clicks in the long-form (15-30 seconds) over the short-form (under 15 seconds).

The press release on the study concludes with this recommendation for best practices on mobile video:

“When it comes to dwell time and click-through rates, the optimal video length for maximising audience engagement in non-native environments on mobile is between 14 and 15 seconds. The study shows that videos within this window are concise enough to deliver engagement averages double those of longer form videos, while also delivering click-through rates double to that which the short form videos averaged, demonstrating that viewers are sufficiently informed by this point.”

But they also mention that it’s important to choose your key performance indicators (KPI) for your campaign, then monitor and adjust accordingly.  What do you think? Will you be looking to create such short videos for mobile, or are you comfortable at the really long, old standard, of 30 seconds?

Oliver Burt

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