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Marketing and Explainer Video Length: Science and Myths

The prevalence of 4G LTE smartphones speeds has enabled video streaming to take the marketing world by storm. Now explainer and marketing videos are part of the checklist for any startup serious about growing big. But there is still quite a confusion about the ideal length of the explainer or marketing videos. We come across clients who want to make a 10 minute video that describes all the features of their complex product. There are others who want to make a 30 seconds action packed video only with a laundry list of items to include. The question is what factors decide the ideal length?
There are three main criteria that help determine the ideal length.

1. Complexity of the product

“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler” – Albert Einstein

While it is generally true that any idea could be made to fit into less than 60 seconds, it is not always desirable or advisable to do so. Following Einstein’s logic, the first step in the scriptwriting stage is to brainstorm about the core offering. Once the core offering is decided, it is very easy to remove all the extraneous parts and words At this point, the script should not be further shortened because it would start losing its essence. As an example, we recently were working on the design of the hamster for our logo. We wanted to have the hamster design represent one of our core ideals – minimalism. So we first made a full hamster and then removed all lines, colors and parts that were non-essential to the hamster’s shape. The result is the hamster image you see in our logo. If you were to remove even the smallest part of the line on our hamster, it wouldn’t look like a hamster.

2. Attention Span

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. This is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish 🙂

It would be super difficult to explain anything in 8 seconds. So how do we go about it?

Fortunately, there is a way. Grab the attention of the customer in first 8 seconds. It is important to make the initial 8 seconds interesting enough that your customer wants to continue watching. We call it, the hook. Once the customer is hooked, he or she is more likely to watch the whole video. A good example of this are Geico commercials. The first part of the commercial is a hook in which the narrator states an attention-grabbing fact or something interesting happens. It is followed by a call to action.

We still need to warn you, though, that even if you have initially grabbed the attention of a potential customer, he or she may still choose not finish watching your video if the video is not interesting. This point is a great segway to the third determining factor for video length.

3. Interesting content that connects

“Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” – Unknown

Ask comedians and entertainers, making content interesting is not a simple feat. The same goes for video scripts. A script that flows well, has humor and connects with the audience at an emotional level, requires what appear to be extraneous words. Stated differently, to make a script interesting would generally increase its length, yet that is a small price to pay to keep your audience engaged.

In summary, the length of a great explainer or marketing video should be determined by how many words it takes to communicate the bare minimum core idea and present it in an attention-grabbing and interesting way. In general, 80% of the ideas could be explained effectively in 60 – 120 seconds. Please comment below to let us know how you’ve fared with feeding your hungry hamster – and getting your company’s message in front of people!

– Prady Gupta

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