Long Form VS Short Form Video

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Long Form VS Short Form Video

28 June 2018

It’s clear to all and sundry that video is driving the future of content marketing. With over 80% of internet traffic likely to be video content by 2020, more and more brands are investing in video to help tell better stories.

However, what’s not clear to either all or sundry is what sub-set of video marketing is going to win out the day. Is vertical video the way to go? Maybe VR/AR or MR will drive growth in brand storytelling in the near future? Or maybe brands will look more and more to Netflix or the silver screen to promote awareness?

While nobody really knows what shape video marketing is going to take in the next few years, there’s one thing that everybody can agree on. Video needs to be really short. After all, the internet has made us stupid. We have shorter attention spans than goldfish. Right? Right??!

No. Stop that now. Recently, at the Native Advertising Institute Conference in Berlin, LinkedIn’s Jason Miller poured scorn on the research behind our ever-dwindling attention spans. It’s well-worth spending 8+ seconds reading his 2016 post on how the goldfish myth is killing content marketing.

“But you’ve only got 3 seconds to get your brand in your audience’s faces before they skip!” I hear you retort. Again, this is not necessarily true. And this mindset is definitely damaging for how brands tell their stories through video. Check out this piece of research by Googleon long vs short video on YouTube - shorter video length can actually lead to higher skip rates.

Now, I’m not saying that short-form video does not have its place. If you genuinely feel like you can tell a comprehensive and engaging story in 15-seconds, then go for it. For me, shorter 15-second videos on social can act as a great promotional piece for a longer piece of content. And shorter content is definitely more impactful for user-generated video – Instagram and Snapchat are both cashing in on that.

However, I firmly believe that longer form video storytelling is the future of digital advertising. Some of it is based on instinct and my experience as both a marketer and consumer. If the content that I’m engaging with is really good, I will stay with it. It will stay with me. I will share it. I genuinely won’t care that it’s been supported by a brand. It’s more than instinct though, there are some really noticeable trends that are pointing towards longer, higher quality brand video being the future of advertising.

Facebook began their move towards rewarding longer videos with an algorithm change in January 2017, swiftly followed by their beta launch of Facebook Watch. Watch is a platform where the Facebook audience can engage with multi-episodic content in an easy-to-find format. Although Watch hasn’t yet launched in Europe yet, it is a platform that we at Offscript will be tracking with great interest. Look, Facebook knows what it's doing. It's a digital advertising behemoth and the fact that it's backing multi-episodic video as a future development of the platform makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.


There is also the compelling evidence on the higher engagement rates that long-form video garners. A recent study by Wotchit on Facebook videos of durations longer than 90 seconds found that “the longer videos received nearly 79% more shares and roughly 74% more views than all videos of shorter lengths in Q3 2017”.

Furthermore, and I found this a bit mental when I first came across it, long-form video is now the most popular content engaged with – REGARDLESS OF DEVICE! This came from a June 2017 research project by Ooyala, which looked at the duration of video people were looking at on their TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones. You’d expect most of the video content consumed on TV sets to be long-form (defined by Ooyala as greater than 20 minutes in length). But it is the rise of long-form video consumption on smartphone that provides the most stunning increase. Long-form accounted for 55% of video views on smartphones in Q1 2017 – up 26% from Q1 2016. A lot of this is driven by Netflix and other digital players, greater data packages and improving phone screens, but it is a significant behavioural change for those of us who are pushing for better quality, longer-form video to be created and distributed to mobile devices.

Have a quick Google and you’ll be able to find competing reasons why both short-form and long-form brand video are the future of advertising. Nobody knows for sure. That’s what makes our field so very exciting. The most balanced piece I came across was this piece in the Huffington Post. It demonstrates how shorter videos are more effective at driving click-throughs, longer videos driver much higher engagement. This encapsulates our approach to brand storytelling. It doesn’t have to be EITHER long-form or short-form video. It can be BOTH. Brands should be creating longer-form (whether it be 2 minutes or 200 minutes), high-quality video to truly engage with their audience and create an emotive connection. But they should also be using 15’, 30’ and 60’ smart edits of that content to drive direct response.

The issue with online brand video, in its current state, is not that people are not engaging with it. The issue is that too few brands are creating truly engaging video.

If you’re interested in telling your brand story through long-form video, give us a shout www.offscript.studio