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The Ideal Length For Web Videos


So you’ve decided that you’re ready to invest in a web video. At some point you can expect to brace yourself for the following question: what’s the ideal length for web videos?

I think right now video professionals have a bias for short video – anything over 2 minutes on the internet is tantamount to audience torture. And generally there is a good reason that we feel that way – the internet has drastically changed how much attention and effort people are willing to expend on any single thing. For example, Google engineers have discovered that 250 milliseconds is just about the ideal amount of time for website to load before a casual surfer’s patience runs dry.  It’s a testament to just how much attention your viewer is giving you when they watch video – 480 times more than they give waiting for a webpage to load.

Ideal length for web videos

For general promotional or sales videos, 2-3 minutes seems to be a good consensus length. It’s long enough to convey a few bits of meaningful information, but short enough that the viewer will probably make the commitment to watch it all the way through. Of course, some research suggests that 20% of viewers bail out in the first ten seconds, but it’s important to note that they’re gone even if the video is very short. Other research actually identifies longer videos – nearly 5 minutes – as being more successful in viral campaigns where social engagement and online sharing were the hallmarks of success.

It’s not rocket science to understand that the content of the video has a direct impact on viewer retention and engagement. Standard business or corporate video has an uphill battle, whereas a funny viral video does not. If your audience is predisposed to like the content of your video, the rules for overall length become a lot more malleable. If your video concept involves cats doing funny things, you can apparently go up to 15 minutes and still amass 14+ million views!

The answer to the video length question is: it depends. For general sales or promotional work we recommend sticking around 2 to 3 minutes. If you have a complex training piece or a lecture or presentation, it could be substantially longer – there is a lot of information but usually the audience is somewhat captive. And if your video involves something that your audience is predisposed to enjoy and engage with, there really are no limitations if the content is well produced.

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