How Much is Too Much?

20 seconds is the new minute. This is the result of the new study conducted by DDB Mudra regarding effective storytelling in the form of video. Considering the general lack of attention in the average internet user, it has long been formulated that the longer video format is slowly losing ground to the general trend on the internet (and if cricket is any consideration, real life too) – shorter formats. The average human attention span is getting shorter as social media dominates the world with visual experiences. Short Format Videos are the new shiny toys in town, if you will, and they seem to be here to stay.

How did we do it?

We conducted a recent study regarding customer attention span in relation to video length used by brands. We used videos from brands across industries to help us arrive at a clearer and consolidated picture. We also classified videos into duration buckets to help us better bucket and understand consumer behaviour. As for the kind of video ad that we used for our analysis, we ensured that we used skippable video ads across all timeframes to ensure that we had minimal data distortion.

Across channels, there are majorly two types of video ads that can be run – skippable ads which allow you skip the ad and move forward after a certain duration of time and non-skippable ads, where you must ensure you finish the ad before moving on. Since the objective here is to figure out consumer’s attention span, it is something we can effectively determine only with skippable ads, where the consumer has a choice. Non-skippable ads distort the figure, since the customer has no choice here but to finish watching the video (or else, move on to something else, but really, if someone has taken the initiative of opening a video that they are interested, would you really move on? We know we wouldn’t).

What did we find?

20 seconds is the sweet spot

20 seconds is the sweet spot - best video duration for online video ads

(Data compiled from the average watch-time of users across Digital (Youtube and Social) by DDB Mudra from Last 2 year and for 50+ campaigns)

With regard to Youtube Ads, the most interesting statistic that we can take is that 20 seconds is the sweet spot for effectively capturing consumer’s attention via a video on digital platforms. If we look at videos of duration of both 20-30 seconds and 30-45 seconds (the duration groups that are widely used today), the average watch-time of a consumer still boils down to 20 seconds. This data is the average watch time of each user who has seen the video.

We have talked about Youtube ads, now let’s get to social platforms.

In recent days, the trend of watching videos is reducing further. By this, we mainly mean the average video duration, which has already reduced to less than 10 seconds on top social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Some of the biggest spenders in digital media have already adopted short videos as part of their marketing activities. This is an increasing trend since Facebook’s launch of in-stream video ads. In-stream video ads allows brands to deliver 5-15 second video ads to people watching videos on Facebook and its Audience Network.

Image: Facebook Instream video ad

Image: Facebook Instream video ad

Short Videos are fine, but how many people are actually watching them?

Though it is obvious that view rates will be higher if the video duration is less,  For a skippable video ad – The difference in the watch duration for a 20 sec and 30 is not much, it is just 2 seconds in YT.rage watch duration is just 7-8 seconds for any video ad, even though the 2 second video watch percentage is increased drastically, it did not result in increase in the average watch time from the consumer.

Fine, people are still watching videos, but is it cost efficient to run short video ads?

Cost (per Video View) for each video duration class (taking overall CPV average as a base (percentage of 100))  

(Data compiled from the average cost per view of users across Digital (Youtube and Social) by DDB Mudra from Last 2 year and for 50+ campaigns)

When doing any media buying, it becomes obvious that lesser duration videos will have a lower cost per view. However, when it comes to self-serve channels like Youtube Ads or Facebook Video Ads, there is no significant change in what you pay to these channels as a CPV (which is the cost incurred per video view of the ad), the difference between CPV of a 20 second video and a 30 or 40 second is not that big in Youtube.

However, it becomes worse when it comes to Facebook since Facebook operates at max of 10 second buying, cost per completed video of a 30 or 40 sec video creative shoots up by almost 5x of the cost per normal video view.

This shows the short form of video ads not only grab the attention of the consumer, but also comes at most affordable cost hence better utilization of the marketing dollars.

Difference in Avg. CPVs by video duration


Difference in Avg. CPVs by video duration

How efficient are the campaigns that are being run?

How efficient are the campaigns that are being run?
Video Campaign efficiency by video duration

(Based on Data compiled regarding video campaign efficiency across Digital (Youtube and Social) by DDB Mudra from Last 2 year and for 50+ campaigns)

We computed campaign efficiency scores for video campaigns using our own proprietary formula, factoring in completion rates and cost efficiency for each video duration.

Across campaigns (and industries), we found that shorter the video, more efficient the campaign, both in terms of watch rates and the cost incurred to promote the video, vis-à-vis the results.

Is it the same situation internationally?

It is to be noted that Short form digital video has now become the primary source of news for younger audiences. More than half (52 percent) of 18-24-year olds now prefer it to reading news, according to a new study by AOL. The number of 25-34 year olds watching videos increased by 69 percent over 12 months because of the short form video ads. Millennials are undoubtedly a primary target audience in the short form digital video space.

Most Video viewers’ finding short form videos online on video streaming sites (59 percent) followed by social media (53 percent) and news websites (50 percent). This shows that marketers must go beyond just social and streaming destinations if they are to engage audiences effectively with short form video and build the video asset basis the platform they are advertising on.

The new kid on the block – 6 second videos.

 6 second bumper ads effectiveness
Effectiveness of bumper ads

Since the Launch of Bumper ads in 2016, short-form video ads have started becoming increasingly popular year on year and as such, will be a key focus area for any brand globally in 2019. A Survey Conducted by MediaScience showed that a 6-second video can boost effectiveness by 60% of what can be achieved by a 30-second video.

Because of this, 6 second video ads have become more popular to the brands to convey their message to the audience and creating effective and attractive 6 second ads has become a blazing new trend in the digital world.

Below are some of the best videos on how brands are making a big impact with small stories, internationally through 6 second videos.( we will add actual videos and include more videos here as examples)

Watch the Football Goal | Just Add Asda 6 seconder video
Renault Scénic – Parking Video – Bumper Ad
Duracell | Slamtone 6 seconder bumper ad
Samsung #GalaxyS8Plus #GalxayS8 – Pre-book offer (6 sec)

Coca-Cola Korea – 6 seconder video
Club Social – BUDDIES Bumper Ad

Okay, I’m convinced about Short Form Video. But what goes into it now?

  1. Quality is the Key: With 58 percent of the people saying that they lose patience if the production quality is not good enough. Quality also affects shareability – consumers see sharing videos as a reflection of themselves, with 63 percent saying they would only share content if it was of a sufficiently high standard. – source: AOL study.
  • Don’t Just Limit to Pre-roll ads: Most people said they prefer to watch the video when brand is featured in the video they are trying to watch, rather than before it, this challenges marketers to push for more innovative ad experiences and thoughtful brand integration, brands need to think of more interesting ways of advertising than pre-roll videos.
  • Make the Brand Prominent: It is good for the brand if the brand visibility is prominent, because 47% of the audience said that they don’t mind if a brand is prominent throughout the video, interesting fact is that they want to quickly understand the brand being advertised from the outset.
  • Reach the audience who are relevant for better brand lift: One of the key element to connect with the audience for better ad recall is that, the relevancy of the audience with the brand message that is being present in the video,  54 percent of viewers were more likely to watch an ad if it is directly related to the content they intend to watch or relevant to their behaviour in the digital space. This proves how important is to show the video to the audience who are relevant instead reaching out masses and losing the connecting with the irrelevant audience.
  • Keep the Campaign Look Fresh: Brands can use short-form ads for sequencing the videos in different ways and show various cuts of the ads, thereby keeping the campaign fresh.
  • Limit it to Single Purpose: Short-form video ads will not have much time to talk about the entire story of the Brand or talk about the features of multiple range of products/services. Hence, it is important to use the message in a smart way and having a single and simple purpose will play a critical role to make the ad performance better.

Conclusion: Does that mean that brands should not make long format videos?

It becomes obvious from the results that short-form videos are much effective (both in terms of cost and visibility afforded). The shorter the video, the more it can engage with the viewer, and it clearly leads the roost in terms of campaign efficiency.

But what does this spell for longer videos? Longer videos will still be used when brands want to convey an emotional connect or want to fully address their story, but even then, short-form videos need to be a part of the strategy, supporting it.

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Digital Marketing professional with hands on experience in Digital Marketing, interactive strategy, media planning and performance marketing for achievement of top line & bottom-line targets.

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