Why Short Videos Work Best On The Web


If you were to ask me to name one of the biggest mistakes I see people making over and over again with their web videos, my answer would be that their videos are too long.  In fact, I teach my students what specific length their videos should be to guarantee the best rate of viewership.

And while I often say that there are no rules when it comes to web video, about the closest thing to a rule would be video length.  Where basically the rule would read, the shorter the better.

You see, when it comes to online video, people are worse than channel flippers in the world of television.  If a video doesn’t grab their attention immediately…and keep it…they’ll click away the second they get bored.

Some statistics from TubeMogul illustrate this point perfectly.  If you’re not familiar with TubeMogul, they are a free video distribution service; you upload your video to them once and they distribute it to all of the video sharing sites for you.  They have over 50,000 users and have deployed well over 1 million videos.

But back to the statistics I mentioned.  You see, Tubemogul tracks how long, on average, videos are watched before people click away.  And the numbers paint a very clear picture.

For example…

  • 10 seconds into any given clip, 10% of the viewers have already left.
  • By 60 seconds in, over half have left.
  • And by the 5 minute mark, less than 10% of the original viewers remain.

This chart from Tubemogul details it all:

The lesson here is obvious; keep your videos short and you’ll maintain a larger viewership.  Still, it’s something a lot of video creators struggle with…there is so much they want to show and say, that suddenly their videos are stretching 7, 8, 9, 10 minutes or longer.

My advice?  Pithify.  That means show them the baby…don’t tell them about the birth.  Cut the fat, get to the point and hit the viewer with your benefits fast.  In fact, you should hit them with your strongest benefits in the first 10-20 seconds of your video.  Don’t wait; the viewer may not be around to see them otherwise.

And if you think you simply can’t pithify your videos, remember this.  The entire American Civil War can be summed up in two sentences; The North and South fought.  The North won.  Now that’s pithifying something.

1 comment

  • Dave you have some great stats here. Unless you are watching TV episodes like “24” or a movie online then you totally hit the nail on the head with this blog. “Pithify” – I love it and the best advice you can give anyone. As a video creator of 25 years my mantra has always been “short videos.” Not to toot our own horn too much but this is a perfect opportunity to talk about what Veeple can do. It helps the content creator to “extend” and “deepen” their message (at the viewers discretion) without lengthening the video. Need to share more through a PDF document – click on it. Need to learn more through a Flash file or website like Wikipedia – click on it! Check it out at Veeple.com.

    Thanks Dave for the great blog.


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