Videos are the supreme brain candy.


In the US, mobile video ad revenues grew by 145% between 2015 and 2016.(1) Cisco estimates that 82% of all consumer traffic will come from video IPs by 2021.(2) While in the UK, 37.1 million adults watched 11.6 billion YouTube videos last July alone.(3)

We seem to be on a year-round video munch fest.


But why do we love videos so much?

The answer partly lies in our evolution.

In order to steer clear of saber-toothed kitty cats, our brains have evolved to become remarkably adept at processing visual information. Under the right circumstances, the human brain can process images exposed to the eyes for as little as 13 milliseconds.(4)


This has significantly increased our forefathers’ chances of skedaddling scot-free. You could say that the reason we devour visual information so rapidly is because our ancestors were skittish people.


What does this mean for video advertising?

Videos can be highly effective in conveying emotions and information, and this fact has not been lost on the advertising industry. In 2016, TV and digital video ad spend was around $82 billion in the United States alone.(5)


In fact, the popularity of the medium has led to the idea that visual is vastly superior to textual communication. But quantifying this claim is an elusive task. For instance, the often-cited fact that we process images 60,000 faster than we do text has no scientific support.


That said, the Interactive Advertising Bureau makes a fair point by suggesting that combining audio, sound and motion offers “unique advantages in attracting and engaging consumers, and driving actions.”(6)


What is the ideal length of online video ads?

The answer is: it depends. For example, according to a 2015 study,(7) short pre-roll ads (3-5 seconds) can backfire. Even though short ads are meant to be less intrusive, their brevity means they often fail to convey messages in any meaningful way. As a result, a lot of people construe them as a nuisance.


There’s a curious flipside, however. Video ads perceived as annoying can be more memorable. This means that even though short ads can decrease online purchase conversion rates, they have better ad recall rates.


Most video platforms take these aspects into account. YouTube, for instance, now caters to all needs.(8) While the website lets marketers opt for 6-second, un-skippable “bumber” ads, longer and skippable ads are also available.


From the perspective of ad professionals, this latter option embodies the best of both worlds. Longer (15-30 seconds) and skippable ads can relate information and emotions much more efficiently, while the viewer’s freedom and patience are also taken into account.


What about the lengths of other marketing videos?

The video marketing platform TwentyThree published a report recently.(9) Their sample included 1.5 million videos that had been run by 300 marketing teams on the company’s very own platform.


The report suggests a direct correlation between the length of a video and the rate of engagement. 19% of all videos studied were five minutes or longer. Yet, those 19% of videos drove 68% of all engagement.


When we talk about brand, PR, educational and other types of marketing video content, it seems that the longer the better.

Where does that leave us?



Videos are certainly a savvy choice. But the right length of your video depends on a variety of factors.


The way we see it is that content and purpose will define the length of your video; not the other way around. If you know what you want to say, if you understand your audience, and if you know how to communicate with flair, humor and empathy, then you’re on your way to concoct some gourmet brain candy.