Finding your form – Short-form or long-form video content?

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So which is the right way to go? Short-form video content or long-form video content? Well, the simple answer is there is no right answer. The main rule to adhere to is – does this video content keep the engagement level of my audience?

Both short-form and long-form video content can work in all kinds of communications whether it be marketing campaigns, training materials, sales and promotional tools, entertainment – the list goes on.

You would be surprised at the statistics surrounding both forms of content for viewer engagement.

Perhaps the best way to start is to break down some of the styles of videos, durations and their purpose across various screens.

The 5 second pre-roll

You know the short little promos that pop up before you watch a YouTube video (and make you wait 5 seconds before you can ‘skip’). Done effectively, 5 seconds is sometimes all you need to make the viewer want to find out more and either continue watching the full length of the video or click on a web link. Also a great duration for other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram where the swiping culture means your video content has even less than 5 seconds to impress and engage.

The 15 and 30 second TVCs

We all know these, we’ve all grown up with these over the years. The classic and most effective form of advertising (although things are changing with online advertising options making big bucks in ROI).

The social media minute

You will be amazed at just how much content you can deliver in 60 short seconds, no matter the format whether it be promotional, training or educational.

The 2-3 minute video

Most people think this is about the ideal time to watch a video online and keep the viewers attention. True but it’s also important that the video is engaging to keep the viewer watching (and some even class a 3 minute video as long-form these days!)

The 5-10 minute overview video

Don’t be put off when you see the duration of a video being this length. Often there is valuable information to take in that you will embrace. Many vloggers these days deliver video that fall into this category. People will watch a 10 minute video if it’s something that they can see as value. Perhaps it’s an instructional video, an in-depth product overview, maybe a tour video of a destination or a thought-provoking interview.

The documentary style

There is no set duration for an effective doco-style video. In essence, this style of video tells a story. You will see it on almost every production companies website “we tell your story”. The viewer wants to see and hear your story and they want to see it told well. It may be a 5 minute day-in-the-life of your business or a more in depth hour long presentation. As long as the story holds the viewers attention, duration is often ignored. Here are some ways big brands are successfully using long form content (Use Long Form Video to Create Connections)

The 30–60 minute TV show

Let’s take the lifestyle TV show format as an example. The episodes are often broken up into segments showcasing different stories, essentially a bunch of shorter videos stitched together to form a longer format. Engagement levels are maintained throughout by simple tricks like a “what’s coming up” preview. And ad breaks allow the viewer to take a mental timeout, refresh and continue watching (those TVCs work wonders). And of course in this world of streaming media, on demand binge watching television is fast becoming the most popular form of viewing habits.

The feature length

Anyone from film school can quickly tell you the key structure to a successful film includes three ‘acts’ to maintain the viewers interest. It’s not a steadfast rule but as a guide those acts include:

  • The Setup: introduces the premise to the story, the characters etc
  • The Confrontation: the action rises and the stakes get higher
  • The Resolution: the crisis point reaches it’s height, gets resolved and the action diminishes to it’s conclusion

On the flip side, who doesn’t love watching a movie trailer showcasing the highlights of the full movie to entice you to the cinema?

The extended epic

Anyone watch the 17 hour Ghan documentary on SBS recently by chance? There is bound to be an audience out there ready to watch your extended content, you just need to find the right platform to showcase it.

The weird

Watching an oscillating fan for 10 hours straight bizarrely seems quite popular – 4.1 million viewers proves that point. Learn how to monetize those viewers and you could be on a gold mine.

At Visual Culture, we have had experience in working with most of these formats (we don’t plan on filming ceiling fans anytime soon though).


So what will it be? Short-form or long-form?

We would love to hear what has worked for you. Have you stayed with the short-form video or had an opportunity to showcase a long-form video that has been able to hold the audience’s attention using some of the tricks we mentioned above?

If you would like any further advice for your next video reach out to [email protected]

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