Posted February 17, 2011 2:44 pm by with 1 comment

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Thirty seconds is the magic number for a TV ad, but for online video, fifteen seconds is much more common. Undoubtedly this comes from the idea that people won’t tolerate watching anything longer when they can easily skip the ad with the push of a mouse button, but that thinking appears to be wrong.

According to a new study by FreeWheel, the length of a video ad had little impact on the ad’s completion rate. What did have a huge impact was the length of the video itself.

Long-form content (20+ minutes) had the best completion rates regardless of the ad length, both topping 82%. Short-form content, which is currently the most popular form of professional content, peaked at a completion rate of 61%.

The study also found that though pre-roll ads are still the preferred form, mid-rolls are rising fast which could be attributed to the rise in longer content. The best news is that even though the number of ads have doubled in the last two quarters, completion rates have remained steady. This suggests that the audience has already grown used to seeing advertising on videos and are more and more willing to tolerate (maybe even enjoy) a few ads per vid.

A few days ago, I covered another study that showed that 50% of the people surveyed watch online videos everyday. Combine this with the rising ability to watch video on mobile devices and there’s no getting around the impact. A reader left a question there that I’d like to answer here.

Andy asked: how do SME businesses leverage online videos?

Good question. I know it can seem overwhelming when you look at some of content produced by the big brand names, but the joy of video is that anyone can do it. Some of today’s hottest YouTube stars are teens who let loose in front of a webcam. A budget helps, sure, but creativity and drive is all you really need. “Hot Chick Pillow Fight” has 290,000 views and yes, they used some creative camera work, but honestly is anyone watching this video for the filmmaker’s technique? No, they’re watching two pretty girls in skimpy outfits hit each other with pillows. Imagine if this were a commercial for a mattress company or tissues (soften the blow!)

I say, take your cue from low-budget, local TV commercials. Gimmicks sell and have a chance of going viral. If you’re not clever enough to entertain, then inform, show your audience how to do something better or faster.

Video is still new for everybody, so I suggest you try something. Anything. You can film yourself and upload it to YouTube for free so the only thing you have to lose is your dignity — but hey, if it brings in a few sales, it may be worth it.

  • Possibly another reason why commercials in videos are, on average, 15 seconds is because people sitting at their computer are paying more attention. I know that when I’m at my computer, I’m in work mode. When I’m watching TV, I’m not at all.