Video Case Study: How Long Should an Explainer Be?
You’re likely familiar with the idea that shorter videos are better.
That idea is based on the premise that shorter videos get straight to the point and hold attention better than long, dragged-out messages.
The deficit of the human attention span has a direct impact on content and video marketing.
SumoMe looked at 650,000 sessions and found that 80% of Internet surfers don’t read articles from start to finish.
With that in mind, we assumed there would be a significant correlation between video length and view duration. We dove into our YouTube channel (which is 90% explainer videos) and collected analytic data throughout 2016.
Here’s what we learned:
Audience Retention Rate Is Related to Explainer’s Duration.
The majority of our explainers have different lengths. We wanted to find out if our viewers take video length into consideration when they decide to watch one of our videos.
We expected the audience retention rate to decrease for longer videos. The expectation was that 1-minute videos should have higher audience retention rates (not views) than 3-minute videos.
Let’s make it more visual:
Our channel has 584 public videos that have generated around 560,000 views at the writing of this blog post. We believe that the results are representative of wider explainer video trends.
What Does It Mean?
Our prediction was on point, although the graph isn’t a duplicate of what we predicted earlier.
The sweet spot for an explainer clip is 1 to 2 minutes long. When the video reaches 2 minutes in duration, the average views drops from 77% to 57%, and that’s a significant difference when we’re talking about different types of explainers.
There are a few important points that you can take from our research.
- Animated videos shorter than 60 seconds have the highest audience retention rate.
Explainers are meant to be compact and filled with bite-sized information for viewers. The data says the average audience retention rate of a 1-minute explainer video (or less) is 77%. It means that a 60-second video (on average) will hold viewers’ attention for roughly 47 seconds.
- The audience retention rate gradually decreases as explainer’s length increases.
The longer an animated clip is, the fewer viewers it retains. After an explainer video reaches the 2-minute mark, every second of it counts.
So, we suggest that you avoid going past the 2-minute mark unless you truly have to and there is no other way to squeeze your content into the first 2 minutes.
- The acceptable average animated video length is anywhere between 1 and 2 minutes.
Although the graph line seems to drop significantly after the first minute, 1- to 2-minute explainers are still powerful enough to get the most important parts of your content up-front.
The average viewer retention of a 1–2 minute explainer clip is 57%, which means that average viewers will receive half of your content. That’s why it’s important to plan your script before pitching it to an explainer video company.
- Explainer more than 2 minutes long have only a 47% retention rate.
After the 2-minute mark, exponential decay kicks in. The longer you go on, the less retention your video will have — and the difference is significant. The audience retention rate after 2 minutes dropped significantly.
This isn’t to say that you should cut a 4-minute video down to 2 minutes. Some of your content might require longer videos. But the stats suggest that you should strongly consider eliminating the last 30 seconds from a 2-minute, 30-second video to keep your retention rate high.
What about videos more than 3 minutes long?
Just like a piece of writing, an explainer video should be only as long as it needs to be.
Animated clips beyond 3 minutes are likely to be a deep introduction of a product, a brand story or a very intense tutorial on how to use a product. In these cases, the viewers can expect a longer video, but it will no longer fall under the category of an explainer video.
An animated explainer makes complex things simple by explaining your product features to customers. The longer you make the information transfer process, the more complicated it is.
An explainer’s purpose is to explain a product, service, or virtually anything in bite-sized information. That means the shorter it is, the better results it will achieve (based on its essential purpose).
Here’s how to determine how long your explainer clip should be:
- If possible, squeeze your script into a 1-minute video. This time range has the best viewer retention.
- If you can’t keep it to 1 minute, try to keep it under 2 minutes.
- Try to compress video that is more than 2 minutes into 2 minutes.
What are your thoughts on explainer video duration? Let me know.