Brands Still Find Value in Long-Form Videos
As video technology and viewing platforms constantly change and evolve, so does video content. The way we consume and engage with video content changes from generation to generation. However, long-form video is a form of content that has never fully disappeared in popularity over the years.
The most common form of video content from brands is advertisements. Video ads typically go on several video platforms like YouTube, Facebook, product landing pages, etc. A general best practice is to keep video ads around 60-seconds on the major social media platforms. Now, platforms like YouTube offer ad space in 6-second spots. As video platforms evolve, the general length of video ads is decreasing.
Is this due to consumers having shorter attention spans? Well, research shows that is not the case. In fact, the average attention span is increasing, not the other way around. People grow up watching video ads most of their lives, and the volume of video ad exposure increases every year. The surplus of video ads causes us to create our own internal ad filter - blocking out the stuff we do not want to see and tuning in when we hear something relevant.
While we’re seeing shorter video advertisements from brands, the average length of long-form video content is growing. People binge-watch TV shows with 60-90 minute episodes daily, they will preorder tickets for the next anticipated 2.5-hour movie, and also watch a 45-minute speaker series on YouTube. Consumers are still very hungry for long-form videos, and it’s up to your content to captivate them.
People still love long-form videos
While it is true that brands receive increasing pressure to shorten the length of their videos, it is not due to our attention spans getting shorter, rather reducing the amount of information your audience needs to process.
In fact, it is a myth that the average adult's attention span is getting shorter. People get hit with a myriad of information every day, so our brains have developed a mental ad-filter only to allow things through that pertain to our personal wants, needs, and desires. It is possible to get your audience's attention for longer than a couple of minutes, you will need a solid strategy to do it successfully.
Long-form media spiked in popularity over the past few years, and more and more people are adding it to their weekly routine (if not daily). The Joe Rogan Experience is a podcast that pulls in millions of monthly listeners, and that is not accounting for the views each episode receives on YouTube. The minimum length of a JRE episode is 1.5 hours, and some have stretched beyond 4 hours. People can’t get enough of his show!
Even more common than long-form podcast episodes on YouTube is the streaming services we have at home. Almost every household with an internet connection has an account for Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO, or Hulu. Some households may have all of the above. It is more common for popular TV shows to have episodes that are 45-minutes to 1-hour in length, and if you are anything like my family, you can sit there and watch episode after episode!
Movies - the OG of long-form content - have never disappeared in popularity. People will gladly sit through a two or three-hour highly anticipated movie. Why? Because the content is captivating and valuable, which engages the parts of our brain that process storytelling and narrative.
The point I am trying to make is that people still have, and always will have an appetite for long-form video content, as long as the content is relevant, engaging, and valuable. Some brands greatly benefit from using longer videos. Before you leave it out of your strategy, let’s take a look at some ways brands can use long-form videos.
Long-Form Video: 101
Before you jump feet first into producing long-form videos, let’s go over the dos and don’ts. Engaging long-form videos all have similar characteristics based on the rules they follow. Keep these in mind when your team gets to work so you can ensure your audience stays engaged.
Make it Informative
Time is a precious commodity. People are reluctant to give it to you unless they know it will benefit them in some way, shape, or form. This should be at the front of your mind when developing longer videos.
Your video should be packed with great information. Telling a compelling story that is full of information adds value for your audience, and it encourages your viewers to take action. These are the types of videos that people will take the time to stop scrolling and watch. You will boost viewer engagement by wasting zero time and delivering valuable, informative content.
Use the Right Platforms
There are a handful of great platforms for long-form videos. It’s best to get familiar with them before you launch your video. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Snapchat are all viable options for brand videos longer than two minutes.
Snapchat just recently added the capability for businesses to upload 3-minute videos to their platform. The previous maximum length for an advertisement on Snapchat was 10-seconds, so this is a huge opportunity for brands that use the platform!
Develop Brand Episodes
If your brand is running a more extensive campaign that spans over some time, it may be best to consider putting your videos in an episodic format. Timing out your messages and providing chunks of video over time will help create buzz around your campaign and ensure your audience tunes in for the next video release.
Breaking your videos out into episodes can also keep your consumers from getting overwhelmed. Let's say your brand is planning on making a 60-minute video. That's a big ask, even for your most loyal followers. Instead of a full 60-minutes, try breaking it out into six different 10-minute videos. Reducing the length makes it easier for your audience to commit to, and it will leave them yearning to learn more about the story they are engaged with.
Create Shorter Versions
Even if you have customers that are fully engaged with your brand, they may not always have time to watch a longer video. Our daily hustle and bustle can keep us from having extra time on our phones and computers, so creating a shorter version that your customers can watch on-the-go is incredibly valuable.
A shorter version of your long-form video can touch on the high points of the content and educate your audience on the general theme of the conversation. Adding in a few valuable clips from the long version will benefit the viewers and encourage them to watch the longer version later.
Brands using long-form video
Patagonia wants you to get out in nature and explore the world around you - while using their products, of course. One of the best ways they get customers to imagine themselves out in nature with Patagonia products is through their Patagonia Film series.
The Patagonia Film series consists of long-form videos that highlight a customer’s story, all of which are unique in their own way. The videos are beautifully laid out in an episodic, docuseries format, and it makes it easier for customers to engage with the content. After watching these videos, it is nearly impossible to keep yourself from grabbing a bunch of gear from Patagonia and going out to connect with the great outdoors!
MailChimp is another brand that is adopting docuseries-style videos. Being a rad email marketing software was not enough for MailChimp. They want to help their customers understand how to communicate their stories with one another, ultimately enhancing the way people use their platform.
The MailChimp series consists of several different brands sharing their stories, and how they got their story out to the world. These videos help showcase the importance of developing your brand’s story early on, and how to spread that message for the world to hear. MailChimp helps viewers put themselves in the hero’s spotlight when hearing a story they can relate to.
TED has become a household name for many of us because they are one of the first brands to put out long-form keynote discussion videos from thought-leaders in just about every industry you can think of. No matter who you are, or what your profession is, you are guaranteed to find a TED Talk that adds value to your day and teaches you something new.
TED is positioned as a thought-leader in the public speaking arena. The content and speakers they curate are what built their brand to be known as a reliable source of educational and insightful content. When you add value to a customer’s day, they recall your brand much faster when presented with a challenge you solve.
Purple is one of the early innovators in the direct-to-consumer mattress industry. This company set out to prove they have the best mattress in the world, and the best way to do that was through a long-form video product demonstration. Quick and clever videos weren’t going to cut it for this brand. Since they were coming to the industry with an entirely new and different product, they knew the importance of taking their time to explain the product to customers.
People spend a lot of time researching the best mattress their money can buy. When you are spending money on a product that expensive, and with that much direct influence on your daily comfort, the most valuable videos are the ones that explain the mattress’s components and benefits in detail. This incredibly helpful video shows the science behind why their mattress works, and why the competition falls short.
Shorter videos serve a great purpose for brands, but so do long-form videos when used in the right setting. Short videos are great for catching a shopper’s interest and pulling them towards your products. Long videos are great for educating the shoppers on the benefits and best uses for your products so they can maximize the value of their purchase.
People have always loved long-form video, and they always will. Our brains are naturally wired to process narrative and storytelling, which helps us retain information more effectively. Brands are finding unique ways to use storytelling to deliver tremendous amounts of value through long-form videos.