‘Your 3 minute video is too long! People won’t watch it to the end. You need to make it less than 1 minute!…’

It is common to have debates about right length of an online video.

And it usually happens for the wrong reasons…

It makes no sense to have a ‘top down view’ on how long an online video should be. 

That kind of discussion is not only besides the point but when you hear people says those kind of things, it really is a euphemism for “you video sucks…”

And as a seasoned artist with rhino skin, you should be thankful because they are being kind by putting it that way.

The thing is that if you are pondering over how long a video should be, what you are really thinking is ‘how long will the audience put up with this?’ 

Wrong question!

What you should really be obsessing about is ‘what can I show that the audience wants to see more of when they get to the end?’

The real pro’s in the ‘attention business’ get you to pay attention for hours at a time when you watch their movies. 

Others have you binge watching batches of episodes across seasons of a series.

Simply put, length is not relevant as long as the audience keeps asking themselves ‘…and what happens now?…’

Here’s something else to think about:

In the 1980’s the average attention span was more than 20 minutes. 

This obviously has much to do with the fact that there was much less distraction… 

Life was so easy back then… 

We only had a handful of TV channels. It reminds me of how my grandparents used to argue about which of the 2 channels to watch on Belgium’s state television. 

And once they agreed, they would have a fuss about who was going to get up out of the sofa and turn the dial on the TV set… 

There were no mobile devices (no did everyone have remote controls for that matter)… 

We’d get our mail once a day… 

Back then, the daily ‘squeeze’ was when the entertainment industry had to compete for primetime attention.

Not to forget the emotional involvement of the audience with all those domestic disputes about what to watch!

 

But so much has changed... 

Today the average attention span runs in the seconds! Depending on which expert you ask, opinions range from 5-10 seconds!

But have things really changed that much?

The great storyteller still gets us to tuck away our phones and sit on the edge of our seats during entire motion pictures… 

The best selling authors still know how to push us towards finishing their books…

 

But the rest of us ‘amateurs’ still have figure out ways to renew people’s interest every 10 seconds…

And that brings us back to the initial question:  “How long should a video be?“

The answer is quite simple: As long as you can renew someones attention every 10 seconds until you’ve gotten you message through…

But more important than “how long”, what we really should be asking is “How many?”

 

Netflix and HBO are showing us that stories can be as long as you want as long as you get the sequence of the episodes right. 

Their respective flagships ’House of Cards’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ have become something like Frankensteins for their scriptwriters because in both cases they created a monster that is chasing them to exhaustion. 

The insatiable voracity of the audience is stretching the creative abilities of these writers to the limit…

It seems like a wonderful problem and many business would kill to have it!

 

So there it is.

The magic formula for ongoing is staring us in the face.

It all comes down to a simple and recurring question.

“..and what happens next…”

 

But most businesses just don’t get it…

 

A lot of sales efforts are still based on 1980’s attention span. 

Especially in my native industry: financial services.

Long presentations with pages full of bullet points and graphs…

It all seems like an attempt to quell that precious question “what happens now?..”

Marketing departments still sink big budgets into those glossy brochures with 50+ pages. And unless the cover page is pretty, these things just get filed away in dark forgotten filing cabinets or serve to keep the paper recycling industry in business.

Sales meetings still feel like efforts at breaking the record of how much information can be crammed into a single client meeting.

And so on…

 

It may seem crazy, but I really believe there is a great opportunity to get more attention in a world where it gets measured in seconds…

When I see a value proposition made up of 10 main points, I see an opportunity for 10 separate interactions with the target audience…

And if I end every interaction with the aspirational tension of an open question, I can earn the next interaction…

And because each interaction ends with the audience trying to figure out what happens next, they wind up adopting the idea as their own…

And with every interaction, I also get to build more of a relationship…

And what is that old saying? “You need to build a relationship with people before you can get their business…”

Full circle…

 

Seriously, tell your kids to become scriptwriters…

They will be the new rainmakers!

 

Want to see this in action? 

Here’s an example of what I call an ‘AutoFunnel’

I build these to help my clients get the ongoing attention of their target audiences.

 

Check out the example of an AutoFunnel