Infographic: 80% of Videos Drive Less Than a Third of Total Video Engagement

Turns out shorter isn't always better

Shorter videos aren't always more engaging according to a new report. Getty Images
Headshot of Sami Main

Contrary to your Instagram feeds, longer video tends to drive higher engagement.

A new report from TwentyThree, a video marketing automation platform, studied over 1.5 million videos to better inform marketing and content creation teams about preconceived video myths.

The “State of Online Video in 2017” report found that videos can, and should, last longer that 90 seconds if publishers want to see higher engagement rates. While 80 percent of videos are under five minutes, they drive less than a third of overall video engagement. Mid-form and long-form videos, which are at least 15 minutes long, drive over half of all video engagement despite encompassing just 8 percent of all video.

Short-form videos are two minutes long, often muted but with text added for social viewing, to up to five minutes long, with some kind of instructional description that answers a viewer’s question with a bird’s eye view, like the ones made popular by BuzzFeed’s Tasty; mid-form videos are for viewers looking for a “lean back” experience and might be tutorials or shorter webinars; longer form videos, up to 45 minutes long, typically don’t show up in social feeds but might be streams of live events or longer webinars and tend to reach a specifically engaged demographic.

“If you make longer videos, there’s more time to engage with them,” said Steffen Christensen, chief technology officer for TwentyThree. “People are worried about what amount of impressions they can get, but tracking video success needs to be different.”

“There isn’t a magic number of seconds to hit,” he said.

The study also found the difference in video plays per platform, though TwentyThree intends to do further research. On average, people only watch 20 seconds of a video they clicked to play on Facebook; if a video is hosted on a company’s site, people are likely to watch the video for at least four minutes.

“You need to be counterbalanced to bring in meaningful engagements,” said Christensen. “Be able to build out different social channels with different expectations.”

Live videos, in fact, reach 300 percent more engagement when compared to non-live videos, and 67 percent of watch time occurs after the live event.

To Christensen, the modern publishing mindset should look at videos as repurposable content. If you film a longer piece of content, there are ways to re-edit it to suit multiple formats and platforms. But there are ways companies can learn from this data to decide what kinds of content to produce to reach maximum engagement levels.

“YouTube defined the metrics of all video based on how that one site specifically operates,” he said. “Markets go deeper than just ‘plays.'”

@samimain Sami Main is social editor for Adweek, where she posts Adweek content onto social platforms and looks for creative ways to communicate what's new.