Report: Short Videos Don’t Drive Much Engagement

The online video firm TwentyThree finds that viewers who are willing to stick with a long video are far more likely to be engaged than those watching shorter clips. Live videos are also huge engagement drivers.

Throw out everything you thought you knew about online video engagement—the concept—or at the very least, be willing to challenge your expectations about what works for online viewers.

A new report from the online video marketing firm TwentyThree claims to “bust the myth”  that videos are most engaging when they last 90 seconds. An analysis of videos run on TwentyThree’s platform found that more than 80 percent lasted less than five minutes, but they turned out to be much less engaging than videos that ran 15 minutes or longer. Engagement surged when the videos lasted longer than 45 minutes.

(According to TwentyThree, the company measured engagement using its proprietary analytics platform to detect whether a person was actively watching a clip every few seconds, in a style similar to platforms such as YouTube or Facebook. This is usually handled as a core part of its analytics platform, but for the purposes of this report, the firm aggregated this engagement data.)

While long videos represented just 8 percent of all online video produced and an even smaller percentage of overall plays, they represented more than half of all engagement, according to TwentyThree’s analysis of 1.5 million videos, 1.7 billion video impressions, and 50 million video plays.

And the least engaging videos hovered under two minutes—or right around the 90-second mark.

“If you make longer videos, there’s more time to engage with them,” TwentyThree Chief Technology Officer Steffen Christensen told AdWeek. “People are worried about what amount of impressions they can get, but tracking video success needs to be different.”

A few other salient points from the report:

Owned platforms mean longer views. Facebook may get much of the attention these days from the viewership standpoint, but people who watch on that platform tend to stick around for just 20 seconds. YouTube is better, at 58 seconds. But both Facebook and YouTube pale in comparison to owned platforms, which can keep a video consumer interested for nearly four minutes. “Even when a video is played, the experience context matters,” the report states. The company told AdWeek that it planned to do more research on this issue in the future.

Live engagement is a powerful source of views. On average, according to the report, there’s a threefold increase in engagement when a video is played live. But plenty of  engagement occurs afterwards: Two-thirds of a video’s watch time occurs after a live event ends.

The best time to convert? If you’re trying to figure out the best time to ask your viewers to sign up for your newsletter, it’s probably not after they’ve watched your video. The analysis found that when there was a sign-up window in a video player, consumers were most likely to sign up before they watched (9 percent for standard videos, 66 percent before livestreams). While 22 percent of video watchers signed up while the clip was playing, just 2 percent did so after the video ended.

If you’re trying to convert a viewer after the fact, email might prove an effective tool. The report noted a 62 percent increase in click-through rates when a video thumbnail showed up in an email campaign.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify how the report measured video engagement.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!