Direct Response Videos: What’s the Ideal Length?

The best videos strike a careful balance between creative and strategic thinking. Video production designed to elicit a direct response, be it a call, a sale, a click, or a download, needs to do more than tell a great story.

That's why direct response marketers are constantly searching for best practices governing key areas like length. While it's difficult to measure less tangible elements like story and visual, it's relatively easy to track how one video length performs against another.

A recent look at Facebook advertising data for e-commerce and gaming properties provides insights direct response marketers can use for developing infomercial strategies, at least when it comes to digital video.

Don't follow the crowd

Interestingly, what's popular among video advertisers isn't necessarily what's most effective. In this survey, 11-15 second spots were among the most popular type of direct response video, yet these didn't garner the type of enthusiastic response their longer counterparts did.

16-20 second ads performed best in ecommerce and gaming In aggregate, when weighted by ad spend, ads in the 16-20 second range saw the highest conversion rates. Perhaps surprisingly, 26-30 second spots only slightly underperformed when compared to 16-20. Ads in the 21-25 and 5-10 second ranges showed the lowest conversion rate—shorter definitely isn't better.

Longer ads can perform well, too

16-20 second direct response ads may yield the highest ROI in general, but don't discount longer formats, if that's what you need to sell your story. In both gaming and ecommerce segments, audience response was only marginally lower for longer ads.

Creativity matters, too

In the same survey looking at video length, the analyst noted a few additional similarities between successful ads. Unique visuals and experiential storytelling both did well in this space, as did video that was enabled for silent mode. Of course, conversion on creativity is harder to measure, but it needs to be said: a great video at the wrong length might have a better chance than a boring video at the perfect length.

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