Two cents blog

How long is long enough?

by BCM Group on 15 January 2015

As someone who takes a very keen interest in branded content, I’m calling 2014 as the year that marketers seemed to finally ‘get’ what form of video content people like to watch. What a year it was with memorable campaigns like #worldstoughestjob, First Kiss and #likeagirl racking up views to rival even the most popular cat videos.


And for those who’ve not yet worked it out, it is time to start worrying. According to Deloitte’s Media Consumer Survey we are now at the tipping point where using the Internet for entertainment is about to eclipse watching TV as the preferred source of entertainment. According to Cisco, by 2017 video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, and video-on-demand traffic alone will have almost trebled.

There’s been a lot debate about the optimal length of branded content online, with opinion ranging from ‘keep it short as that’s how people consume content’, to ‘if it is engaging people will watch it no matter what the length’.

According to YouTube, the average length of the top 10 YouTube ads that Aussies watched in 2014 was three and half minutes. But that in itself is deceptive.

There are two important measures for us all to be aware of – video view counts and video completion rates. When evaluating how compelling and effective a brand’s message is, completion rates matter. Video views simply measure the content people think seems interesting, whereas video completion denotes the content people actually enjoyed watching. That’s the one to watch, especially when you consider that a lot of branded content does not even reveal the brand till the end of the video. And analytics show that very few watch even the most engaging video to the end.

Attention spans are growing shorter and shorter, and if you are talking to Gen Z you’ve got 8 seconds!

So next time you’re reviewing a content idea think about the fact that 80% of organic online video is actually less than a minute. As a generalisation, I think shorter is better. What do you think?

 Jo Stone is BCM’s Director of Strategy

- Dwayne on January 21

I agree with Michele. It's the 'engagement' factor that makes the difference — not length of time. It doesn't even come down to the 'quality' or 'value' of the content, just how engaging it is. This is proved by the millions who are willing to sit through interminable hours of My Kitchen Rules and X Factor and cat videos. The reason you only have 8 seconds with Gen Z (and I reckon it's actually less) is not because attention spans are growing shorter. It's because they have been exposed to so much dross that they can instantly tell if this next thing coming onto their screen is going to be just more crap {skip}. Which leads to a question for Kev : Why create anything other than 'exceptional content'?

- Kev on January 16

Great post Jo. You're absolutely right everyone quotes views, but completion is critical especially if the pay-off is saved to the end. Obviously there can be no absolutes, but unless it's exceptional content, intuitively i reckon the sweet spot is one to two minutes. Many longer, so-called 'entertaining videos' seems to have essentially the same joke repeated over and over. I think it's a case the the creators and sponsors of such branded-content, over-play how fascinated the punter is with the content.

- Michele on January 15

I'm working on some content ideas right now Jo, so a very timely post. For me it's about the content rather than length. This one runs for three-and-a-half minutes, but I watched every second right to the end. Maybe that's because I'm a long way away from being a Gen Z'er!!

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