How Long Should Marketing Videos Be?

Posted by Jim Matuga

Feb 15, 2017 11:41:29 AM

By: Jim Matuga

A short time ago (2015 ) Time reported,

“The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds."

And according to a new study from Microsoft Corp.,

“People now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.”

Humans have very short attention spans. That is for sure. (What was I writing about??? Oh yeah…)  Thanks to amazing distractions known as the smart phones and the internet, it's getting harder than ever for humans to focus on one thing at a time. 

In marketing, attention span has a significant impact on content consumption and especially video effectiveness. Videos are one of the most powerful mediums available to tell your company’s many wonderful stories.

I believe that if you are able to simplify and clarify your message and create powerful stories where your customer is the “hero” of the story, you can break through the marketing “noise” in the marketplace and significantly influence your target customers to take your desired action.

That said, one of the frequent questions I get asked is, “How long should my marketing videos be?”

The Importance of Engagement

The answer I always give is this: “A marketing video needs to be exactly as long as it needs to be to tell a clear, compelling story where your customer is the “hero.” A story that will give the viewer a reason to do something positive. To take action.”

What I just described it the essence of the word “engagement.” That is a word we hear often in marketing and especially on social media channels like Facebook.

So, what does engagement really mean?  Here is how the dictionary defines it specifically: 

  • a :  To hold the attention of
  • b :  To induce to participate

There you have it. That’s all you need to know.

But if you’d like to know more, please read on. 

Last year, the popular video service WISTIA released a report of findings regarding video viewership and video engagement on the internet. Here’s a little of what their study revealed:


Because every video is a different length, we decided to explore length versus engagement.

Their team expected engagement to decrease with video length. In other words, we would expect people to watch more of a one minute video than a two-minute video. But they also imagined that increasing a video from one minute to two minutes-a difference of one minute, but 100 percent longer-would have a much bigger impact on engagement than the jump from 10 minutes to 11 minutes-a change of one minute, but just 10 percent.

Luckily, we have plenty of data to draw from. Their team looked at 564,710 videos and more than 1.3 billion plays for this research, so they felt comfortable that the results are representative of wider video engagement trends. So what did this data actually tell us?

How long should videos be?  

How long should marketing videos be?Two minutes is the sweet spot. After that, the drop-off in engagement is significant. Here are a few important points from this data:

  1. Videos up to two minutes long get tons of engagement
  • Takeaway: Short and sweet is a safe strategy. Assume that your viewers are busy. But don't sweat over a few seconds here and there if you're still going to come in under the two-minute mark.


  1. There is significant drop-off between two and three minutes. After two minutes, every second counts.
  • Takeaway: If you're new to video, start with short videos under two minutes. This will help you get a feel for what resonates with your audience before you invest in longer content. 

  1. Six to 12 minutes is sweet spot #2
  • Takeaway: Beyond two minutes, focus entirely on the content. If the viewer would benefit from brevity, go short. If they'd benefit from depth, don't cut just for the sake of cutting.

Video Production in Morgantown WV | InnerAction Media

My Takeaway: Focus on producing marketing videos that are compelling that create emotional resonance with the viewer that explain the essence of the product or service you’re marketing, and your viewership and engagement will follow. Also, keep in mind that social media algorithms are changing constantly.

I hope this inspires and encourages you to think about the way your company is utilizing marketing videos. You have a unique story to tell. I encourage you to start creating video content on your website and social media channels. Experiment and see what works best for your business. And be sure to focus on the Hero of the story being your customer — not you.


*Acknowledgement:  WISTIA by Ezra Fishman, July 5, 2016

Jim Matuga

Written by Jim Matuga

Jim Matuga is the founder and President of InnerAction Media, a marketing agency in Morgantown, WV. His new book available on AMAZON, Marketing Matters, was inspired by his regular column in the State Journal. You can listen to his weekly podcast “Positively West Virginia” on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. He has extensive experience in leadership positions with West Virginia media companies, including newspapers, TV, cable, direct mail, radio, agency and digital.

Topics: Video Marketing