The duration of a video should not be one of the deciding factors when creating branded content. It is inspiration, relevancy, usefulness and entertainment that are the main characteristics of the most successful videos out there.
I recently came across this video created by Publicis Entertainment for Renault and their Renault TV platform. Over the course of 26 minutes, we travel through five decades of design tendencies and how they influenced fashion, music, social habits and the production industry (including some of this French car manufacturer’s most iconic creations). As an example of branded content, how effective is this long-form video in trying to reach its target audience?
Well let’s start by stating the obvious: brands are increasingly relying on video content to engage consumer interest. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, this is also true in a B2B environment, where use of video as a marketing tool increased from 52% to 70% from 2011 to 2012.
Video has indeed become the driving force of numerous marketing campaigns, with examples ranging from 1-minute virals such as the Cravendale “Cats with Thumbs” Milk Matters campaign to the more challenging Kony 2012 awareness campaign video. Both these videos amassed millions of viewers on YouTube. Yet they required very different amounts of time and attention from the viewer.
How long or short should a video be to be able to sustain viewers’ attention?
The answer is to this question forms part of the many challenges that content marketers face on a daily basis, where the quest to reach a very informed, time-poor, easily distracted, banner-blind consumer or business owner is not a matter of how large a budget you have, but instead how effective you can make your content with whatever resources are at your disposal.
Could it be that the above 26-minute video asks too much from the time-hungry viewer? Perhaps, especially if they’re accessing the content on their mobile, in which case targeting the consumer while they’re on the go would be a mistake. With ever dwindling attention spans, especially with the younger generation, the competition to grab (and keep) a consumer’s attention is white hot.
Some voices in the industry will therefore say that long-form content has had its day. Indeed, if we are to take into account the relaunch and subsequent rise in popularity of the news curating app Summly (at the time of writing, it’s at the top of the App Store free app chart), we can say that the constantly mobile consumer now only has time to catch up on 400 character items of news. Were we apply this logic to branded content in video format, then creators will have to limit themselves to 2-3 minutes to tell their story and get the message across. This would of course approach the realms of ‘advertising’ videos, which when well executed and integrated in an effective campaign, easily become a viral hit.
In an age of instant gratification, content creators should therefore not be focusing on how long the video is, but instead concentrate on making each second, line or image of their content relevant, inspiring, entertaining and/or useful. There will always be thirst for content that has either or all of these attributes. If the viewer will gain something from giving the brand their time and consequently follows up with one of the many possible actions we ask them to perform, then the video has served its purpose.
But what about very good videos that have poor view counts or haven’t had an impact on the overall objectives of the marketing campaign? I will leave my considerations on this matter to another post, so do come visit my blog in the not too distant future.