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Shorter video on mobile is best they say. Are “they” wrong?

If you’re trying to create online video on mobile devices you’ll often find recommendations to keep it short. Less than 90 seconds. Less than 2 minutes. You’ve even seen me say that on this blog. But some recent data is making me rethink that generalised rule of thumb.

Not surprisingly, TVs have the largest percentage of people watching longer videos (over 10 minutes).  In this chart you can also see that 70% of tablet users watch longer videos. Again, this isn’t so surprising considering how easy it is to curl up with a tablet and watch a movie.

Infographic: The Larger the Screen the Longer the Content? | Statista
What I found surprising though, is that 49% of mobile users watch videos longer than 10 minutes. Everyone talks about needing to restrict the length of video on mobile because of limited bandwidth – or pricey bandwidth that people don’t want to use. But it seems people are more willing to watch on mobiles than we all thought. Or, perhaps there’s another explanation?

Another theory I have is that TV and movies are skewing the statistics towards longer video. Back in late 2013, Mashable reported that TV shows were the most popular type of streaming content.  Given most TV shows, without commercials, run about 20 minutes the average length would undoubtedly be over 10 minutes long. And with Wi-Fi available at home and in many public spaces, mobile users are probably watching more TV.

This is great news if you’re in the business of making movies or TV shows. People are more willing to watch shows online, which means your audience is growing. But what should you make of this new information if you’re using video for marketing, brand building, or product reviews?

First, it might be worth taking a look at using longer videos.  If you can create a video that tells a story in an entertaining way (while selling whatever it is you’re selling) people may be more willing to watch than we all previously thought.

Second, remember length probably isn’t the main consideration for your video. It’s a main component of the video for sure. But knowing your audience, the messaging you need to reach them, and the channels you’ll use all play into how long the video should be.

Don’t be afraid to go long, but only if it makes sense for you.

Oliver Burt

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