How Long Should Your YouTube Videos Be?

The growing concern of audience attention spans has led to the emergence of snackable content; bite-sized information viewers can easily and quickly retain. With this in mind as content marketers, we must ask ourselves if we are pushing our luck with the length of our content, especially when it comes to video.

Video is a great opportunity to visually connect with and entertain our viewers by showing them the personalities behind a business. It’s also a chance to develop an industry voice online. Shaping your videos into snackable sizes is not necessarily the only option you have for retaining attention with your content though. With the use of specific metrics in your Youtube account, you can find all the information you need to cater to your audience’s needs by answering the question: “How long should your YouTube videos be?”


(Source: Wistia)

How To Determine The Right Video Length?

A good YouTube account should follow a rule of content marketing by developing diverse forms of content. Your videos should be assortment of different types of videos that relate to your company’s industry. This broad approach to having a variety of video content is important when collecting the needed analytics to determine the correct length of your videos. By looking at a wide range, you are ensuring consistency across the board for determining the proper length of all of your video content as well as discovering what may or may not be working for your company.

Most viewed youtube videosVideo Manager and Video Views

The first step in determining the right video length begins with your YouTube accounts Video Manager. The Video Manager has the tools to help you alter, study, and organize your videos in your account.

It is important to look at your videos from the “Most Viewed” setting, so you are given a proper range to choose the videos from. Keep in mind that while selecting videos you will need to collect a diverse assortment based on their topics, as well as offering a good range with their view counts. The “Views” component in the analytics of each video will provide a graph on the view count, accompanied by an adjustable date range and an Average View Duration of the video. Affected by the date range underneath the graph, the Avergage View Duration gives us the average number of minutes watched. Adjusting the date range to see the view duration throughout the videos lifespan will provide you with a better understanding of how to create and match the right length to a topic. If the video has a low view count and Average View Duration, then you may want to ask yourself if the topic is right for your company, or check to see if the title is optimized properly and if the video uses tags.


Audience Retention

After collecting information on the Average View Duration, it’s time to take a more detailed look at the attention span of your audience. Audience retention contains the metrics of how well your video can retain its viewers according to the date range selected on the “Views” graph. In a side-by-side comparison between a chart of your audience’s retention and the actual video, you can see at what point people started opting out of your video during an ad, before the video starts, or at a specific moment or time.

YouTube Audience Retention Video Comparison
There are two types of Audience Retention stats that you can toggle between: Absolute and Relative. The views of every moment of a video, as shown by percentage of the number of video views is Absolute Audience Retention. Relative Audience Retention compares your videos ability to retain viewers during playback to all YouTube videos of similar length. Be careful with the Relative function, as various types of content fair differently with viewers. Ask yourself this: can you really compare a 4 minute video of content marketing to the biggest fails of 2013 of the same length?

Audience Retention also measures three types of traffic that can be displayed graphically: Organic, TrueView in-stream, and TrueView in-display. Organic traffic in Audience Retention are views that are a result directly from user actions (searched for a video, browsed a channel or clicked on a suggested video). The last two are considered paid traffic. TrueView in-stream are the auto-played ads before a video that allow the user to opt out of the ad after five seconds. On the graph, TrueView in-stream shows when an ad is viewed until its conclusion or for more than 30 seconds, as well as ad playbacks where an ad is skipped after five or more seconds. With TrueView in-display, the ads are selected by the user to play.

By looking at these metrics, searching for patterns in your videos as well as the peaks and valleys of an audience retention graph, you can collect the information you need to determine the proper length of your video. The next step is to utilize your collected research in a manner that creates great video content.

From Analytics To Creation

In addition to the right video duration, its time to look at certain attributes and examples that can supplement its length. There are several ways to develop content or even refurbish previous video content marketing efforts to meet your audience’s needs. Create a video from scratch with the following attributes:

  • A topic/headline created from search query research.
  • Jump straight into the topic and avoid having drawn out introductions that can last 6-12 seconds. Viewers are most likely to drop off within the first 15 seconds of every video (Source: Google)
  • Leave out the fluff and be precise with what your talking about.
  • Audio/video equipment used to record videos are more reasonable in price than some would expect. So it may be worth spending some of your budget on the proper equipment. Especially when the quality of your video content speaks to your companies branding as well as for retaining your audience’s attention.
  • Design videos that incorporate branding at a level that is not forceful and sales-y.
  • If using a narrator or presenter in your videos, draft up a script and time their readings in comparison to the desired video length.
  • Tell a story. Take your audience on a journey from “A-C”, with “B” the takeaway from the video.
  • Use annotations in the video that allow you to skip ahead to certain points of the video like in this example below:
  • Embed a video with a specific time start.Note: The times are listed as seconds, where the start time 278 seconds = 4:38 and the end time of 371 seconds = 6:11

You can argue that videos at a snackable size are the best, but whether your videos are effective at 30 seconds, 2 minutes, or an hour, truly comes down to your audience. Analyze the metrics, review the content, and craft videos that focus on what your audience is searching for and how long their attention span is.

Read more: