As a decision-maker, you want facts. Especially when it comes to video content for social media. And this is precisely where the two success factors view through rate and emotions create a tangible conflict of objectives.
In theory, it’s simple. The video length is not only an important factor for the production costs. Studies show that short videos are more likely to be watched to the end by the user in social media than long films. That’s why it is important to “explain the benefits in a nutshell”, as was the case with TV commercials (there, however, driven by the media costs for broadcasting on TV).
- The View Through Rate (VTR) determines the percentage of a video that a user views. This measure is an important indicator (KPI) for videos in the new media.
- The video length is subject to a contradiction. Emotional videos are up to 75% more popular than informative formats. At the same time, short videos are preferred over longer videos.
- However, for a video to trigger emotions in the viewer, its action requires a minimum time.
- 30 seconds is considered too long for advertising videos on the Internet. Studies recommend a run length of 10 seconds. To evoke emotions in this time span is hardly possible.
- A possible compromise to ensure acceptable View Through Rates is the conception of videos with only one scene / shot.
Changed rules for the video length
In short, in conventional TV advertising in the German-speaking world this usually meant a film length of between 20 and 30 seconds. 15 seconds was considered ultra-short. Everything over 35 seconds was already indecently long (and a privilege for the makers and storytellers).
The reduction of the attention span has changed the rules of the game. We must learn to narrate in short formats.
Quite different on the web. Anyone who travels on the Internet is exposed to a constant flood of stimuli and temptations. We have all learnt how to get what we are interested in ourselves in the digital world. Everything else we click away. That’s why the length of a video as well as the time the user spends with the video content plays a crucial role here. The View Through Rate is one of the most important measures of the success of videos as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI).
That’s why research is constantly underway around the world to determine how long a video can be.
View Through Rate (VTR) against emotions
The moving image draws its power from the emotions it can generate better than other instruments. Compared to photos, videos can tell a story more easily and at the same time more clearly. Good storytelling triggers emotions in the viewer through identification.
Studies have shown that emotional videos can achieve up to 75% higher conversion [Superscript]1 [Color-E] and thus increase sales than information or content with little emotion. Emotions are a success factor for the success of online videos.
But for emotions to have an effect, they have to be seen in the first place. This is where the behaviour of the user collides with the intention of the video maker and the requirements of the medium video.
Because users mainly use mobile devices, TV spots with 30 seconds running time no longer have any effect!
Videos with a length of 6 seconds (!, exactly, five times shorter than a conventional commercial) are consumed significantly more often from start to finish than longer works2. 55% of all Internet users (a gigantic good value on the web) watch such videos in their entirety3.
The number of people watching a video on the web from start to finish is recorded in the View Through Rate (VTR). The “view through rate” is thus also a measure of success for the correspondence between the video concept and the target audience on the respective distribution channel.
Percentage of viewing and emotions (emotional score based on 12”392 videos with 2”035’254 views | © Teads TV/real eyes 2018
The aim is therefore to generate a maximum of emotions in as short a time as possible. Provided one believes the study and 6 seconds in length offers the greatest guarantee, in terms of VTR, that a video will be watched from start to finish. And emotions ensure maximum impact.
Reference: 1, 2 und 3 Teads.tv & real eyes: 6 seconds with maximum effect, October 2018.
Two (good and successful) 6-second videos
Two practical examples of videos with a length of six seconds. Both are not just any videos. The first is for SNICKERS® in use, the second advertises the vodka producer Smirnoff on the web.
Both videos have, apart from the length restriction to 6 seconds, two further similarities:
They consist of a single shot (the camera doesn’t change the angle of view, it doesn’t even move) and both videos work with humor. The grandmother in the Nike commercial says: “And you told me this baby is cuter”. The US actor Ted Danson tries in vain to bring not only the product but also himself into play.
It’s also striking that both actions mark the beginning of a story, but the continuation of the story takes place in the mind of the viewer. The way Hillbilly (who is a hillbilly because of his clothes?) reacts to the sarcastic comment of his grandmother or mother-in-law, only our imagination has the right answer. The same goes for Smirnoff. Whether Danson freaks out after the 6 seconds or takes a good sip, we project the answer ourselves.
It is also interesting that the online clip for alcohol has no (!) Call to Action. It ends abruptly. Secondly, the clip conceptually continues on an ancient principle from TV and film journalism: It openly names horse and rider. That means the cards are on the table. We learn from the beginning that the stopwatch is running and that the video ends after 6 seconds.
What are emotions?
In order for emotions to take effect, a number of conditions are required. These have less to do with moving images than with the way people function.
- Emotions arise (not only in film and video) almost without exception through identification. The viewer sees something that triggers an emotional reaction in him: a scene, a situation, a question that touches him, that he has already experienced in one way or another and that he can place in his universe and which therefore evokes (positive or negative) compassion.
- The initial key moment (we are always talking about marketing and communication here!) must be precisely tailored to the target group. Anything for all leads to no effect. This is then also reflected in the View Through Rate.
- Identification is easier to achieve when it is done with living beings. A trembling child, a funny animal, a person with feelings is always the stronger, and therefore better, projection surface than an object. Of course you can probably also fall in love with a flower vase or an Excel spreadsheet (can you?). But with a heart in your chest it is usually easier to make other hearts beat faster.
Building emotions takes time. In this respect they are similar to building a relationship. Herein lies the great challenge. A few seconds are rarely enough.
With a length of less than 10 seconds, most online spots reach their limits. The video lengths required for optimized View Through Rates bite with the time required to convey emotions with confidence.
Functioning solutions are the concentration on one scene. The eternal mantra “Situations are not stories”, which is stubbornly preached for successful storytelling (even at film pulse), may be dispensed with for short online spots. Must even be dispensed with. Because the content has to “click” with the viewer immediately, one must not be afraid to resort to clichés. Because only these clichés immediately create clarity as to what is at stake.
For these reasons, shortening existing TV spots or online videos can only work in the rarest of cases. In this case, less is not more, but nothing at all, because the effect is completely lost due to the lack of emotional bridges designed for short lengths, which also drags the view through rates down. No less. No more.
More about the View Through Rate
If you want to delve deeper into the subject matter, you will find detailed information in the (only available in English) professional article 6 Ways to Make 6-second Ads Work Harder.