Short or Long Videos: Which is the best explainer video length?

Animated Video Company - Motionvillee

The folks at MotionVillee have time and again mentioned the importance of the length for explainer videos. People watch more than 500 million hours of videos each day on YouTube. This statistic can be misleading as brands might assume that their prospective customers would be willing to sit through 10 minutes of their promotional video. That’s a totally wrong assumption. Most of those hours clocked each day would be of people watching mindless cat videos. 

Please do not fancy that your users will consume your content. There is no doubt that videos are the most engaging form of content out there. Cisco has even predicted that 80% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2021. An explainer video is one of the best ways to showcase your offerings to your prospective customers. With videos, there is a 95% retention rate while the figures for text is tottering at a measly 10%. 

With all that said, the attention span of human beings is low. With each passing year, it is getting shorter because there is a lot of distraction in the form of smartphones, addictive apps, push notifications, ads, and so on.  Today’s marketers need to be smarter to keep their target customers hooked. A simple act like picking up your phone even without a trigger consumes so much time, and more importantly, happens so many times because people are distracted easily. 

Here is an interesting study done by researchers at the Technical University of Denmark on the general attention span of human beings. It reveals the following things, especially the fact that topics which capture incredible attention would invariably fizzle out as quickly. 

  1. A Twitter global trend would last for an average of 17.5 hours while the 2016 number lasted for only 11.9 hours. 
  2. Content is increasing in volume and the urge for finding new content keeps us switching regularly.
  3. Topics became popular rapidly but the interest in them also fades at an increased rate. 

These are interesting findings. The Twitter attention span findings can be extrapolated to every other aspect of human interaction. How exactly does this research help with determining the length of your explainer video, you ask?

  1. Shorter attention span means that you need to keep your explainer videos as short as possible. 
  2. Thanks to shifting focus, it is imperative that you create videos which will have high stickiness factor. 
  3. The explainer video should also have a lot of recall value to create any kind of impact. 

Verdict-> Short videos:

Short videos are invariably going to pack more punch than lengthy videos. The attention span of human beings has a lot to do with explainer videos getting shorter. The burning question is how short should these videos be? Working with an animated explainer video makes it easy as they would take care of the entire gamut of operations from deciding on the length to storyboarding, adding video elements and so on. We do understand that businesses are different and there is no on-size-fits-al approach that works. But when it comes to explainer videos, the shorter the better. 

7 questions to ask when working on your video using which you can decide the length of the explainer video:

  • What is going to be the main premise of your explainer video? 
  • What kind of business are you? Start-up, mid-level or a conglomerate?
  • Would your prospective customers easily understand your product? 
  • Is your business highly innovative?
  • Would it require a lot of explanation on your part to make the viewer understand what you offer? 
  • How deep into the sales funnel are your visitors?
  • Your budget?

The answers to all the above questions are pertinent in deciding the budget of your explainer video. A professional animated explainer video production company would be able to suggest the appropriate length based on your answers. 

4 factors your video length depends on:

While we have time and again told how short explainer videos will only work. There is a caveat associated with it, the honest answer is this- it depends. Let us walk you through what it depends on. 

Are you trying to introduce your product or service? 

If you are relatively unknown in the market, there might be a little more of an introduction than normal that is necessary. You can still choose to concentrate only on the product’s explainer video instead of introducing the company. 

If your video is going to just talk about the product, the ideal length is 90 seconds. In fact, various studies suggest that this is the right length and anything above this, the drop off rate increases. 

Do you want the visitors to take a look at your product or take action?

If you want your users to take action after they watch the product, the video will surely take up a few more seconds. Why? Because you need to explain how taking an action would benefit them. If it is just brand building, you don’t have to worry about people having to do anything after the video. All you need to do is hire an animated explainer video company to help you with making an explainer video. 

The ideal length for a video of this type should be anywhere between 90 and 120 seconds.

Do you need to train your visitors on using the product?

If your explainer video involves training the visitor on how to use it, then the length of the video would be longer than the 90 second time limit that we spoke about. Why? Because it involves explaining concepts along with helping them to take action. This can also involve scheduling calls with a salesperson. 

A video like this would take at least 2-3 minutes. 

How much do your customers know you?

A prospect who is at the buying stage would be much easier to close when you have already convinced them with supporting materials like blog posts, podcasts, webinars, live demos, etc. The length of the video has a bearing on how much your customers know you, but let it be known that you should never stretch the length of the explainer video beyond 3 minutes. The dropoff rates are dramatically high at numbers higher than this. 


Here’s a suggestion- create explainer videos for different levels of categories. Your main explainer video can be for just 90 seconds. The rest of the videos can be of varying sizes based on the use case. No matter how big a brand you are, ensure that you create walkthrough videos for your customers so that they get to understand your product better. 

An animated explainer video for each FAQs, how does that sound? This way, none of your customers will be ever confused about who you are, what you do and why they should choose you. If you have decided to take the plunge into serious marketing with explainer videos, we at MotionVillee would love to be your partner. 

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