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How long should your video ads be?

video adsPeople have short attention spans. People won’t watch longer video. You’ll hear those types of statements all over the web. And while there is some truth to them, there is also proof that they aren’t entirely accurate.

An eMarketer article points out that in Q3 of 2014 there were more impressions of longer video ads (30 seconds) than shorter (20 seconds). The data is based on a report on UK viewers from the video ad company Videology. Overall there was a 15% increase in longer video ads over the previous quarter. EMarketer concludes that while people do seem to watch shorter content (kitty videos they theorise), they also seem to be more inclined to long form when compared with other countries. UK viewers then, don’t mind longer ads and are willing to watch longer content.

So, according to eMarketer, if you’re creating video to target UK viewers, don’t be afraid to try something a little bit longer.  And that includes any video ads you have in your pipeline. In fact, the eMarketer article was subtitled, “Digital video viewers happy with longer ads”.

I’m not too sure I’d agree with the “happy” part of that statement. So what did the Videology study actually say? The data eMarketer quotes is all about impressions: How many videos of each specific length were seen by viewers. Remember viewers don’t have the option to choose what videos they see. There isn’t enough data in the Videology report to be sure, but the increase in 30 second ad impressions may just mean their advertisers provided more 30 second ads than 20 second ads. It also might mean exactly what they say it means.

But while impressions are important, the more interesting metrics are how well the videos performed. Videology included two metrics in their report: video completion rates (VCR) and click through rates (CTR).

For 30 second ads, both VCR and CTR were lower than for 20 second ads. Again there isn’t that much detail on the data behind these numbers, but on the surface it appears the 20 second ads performed better. But it is hard to draw a firm conclusion without more information.

The question that really needs answering is “How long should my video ad be?” Barring more conclusive evidence, the rule is still “do what works for you”. Finding out what that is will take experimenting. Just because a 20 second ad worked wonders for the travel company down the street doesn’t mean it will work for your sweet shop or IT services company. The key is to keep track of performance of every video and you’ll narrow in on what length of video and video ads are just right for you.

Oliver Burt

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