Are Short-Form or Long-Form Videos Better for School Marketing?

Today’s digitized lifestyle has had an impact on our willingness to pay attention to online content for long periods of time. Most of us consume content on multiple devices (i.e. smartphone, computers, televisions, tablets) and we switch between an average of three per day to complete a task. This has led to omnichannel viewing and a notable reduction in our attention span – or our patience – or both.

You probably remember the 2015 Microsoft study that reported consumers’ attention spans are now less than that of your average goldfish. In light of these findings, marketers are now expected to produce short (6 second) and long (15 second – 10 minute) versions of marketing videos and test them to see which one will perform better.

For marketers, deciding between short-form and long-form videos has been challenging. We know that consumers are short on time, patience and attention. On the other hand, studies have shown that longer video may perform better.

The short answer to this dilemma is – it depends on the goal of your marketing campaign.

Let me explain.

Goals for video campaigns can vary depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. Goals for video campaigns can vary from upper funnel brand discovery to lower funnel click-throughs. Advertisers generally consider video viewing completion rates and click-throughs when measuring the performance of a video campaign.

Click-Through Rates

Let’s start with click-through rates as a performance metric. Click-throughs represent people who click-through from your video to a landing page, which may be your website, a social site or a standalone landing page. Supposedly, if they click through to the landing page, they are interested in learning more about your school and are hopefully completing an inquiry form. Short-form videos are generally a better choice for click-throughs; why produce a long video when you want people to click away rather than watch?

Exclusive FREE Bonus: Download the pdf Are Short-Form or Long-Form Videos Better for School Marketing? to use now, to reference in the future, and to share with colleagues at your school.

Completion Rates

The most popular metric for video marketing is completion rate. In theory, completions represent people who attentively watch your entire video. However, it’s not so easy to confirm that the viewer watched the entire video. In some online formats, a viewer can skip the video. Non-skippable videos average a 70 percent viewing rate; skippable videos only 30 percent. It’s hard to determine if people are really watching the entire video or tuning out while the non-skippable video plays.

Short-Form Video

At first glance, it seems like short-term video is the clear winner when it comes to click-throughs and completions. This is because, as video length increases, so do drop-off rates (and fewer click-throughs). However, it’s hard to tell a story in 6 seconds. This is where long-form videos stand out.

Long-Form Video

In their 2015 study on video-form length, Google (in collaboration with Mondelez International) found that long-form videos were more effective in “lifting” brand favorability. The extra depth and complexity of the story presented created a more meaningful connection to the brand. For schools wanting to move potential parents past initial awareness, a longer story may be necessary to persuade people to change how they think.

Consider Your Marketing Goals

In order to make an effective decision about the length of your video, contemplate the goal of your video marketing. Is it to drive clicks and completions? Or are you thinking more long term, like trying to build affinity for your school?

Using Short and Long-Form Videos Together

Marketers must always keep in mind that we are competing with an excess of high-quality content that is available at all times. Whether short or long, authentic stories captivate people. If you want people to pay attention to your video it has to be an authentic story presented in an authentic way. You can tell a story for 6 seconds or 3 minutes and they’ll watch as long as the story is good.

Regardless of the length of your videos, some people will click away relatively quickly. The best course of action is to make your videos as short as possible without compromising the authenticity and scope of the story you have chosen. A longer-version 3-minute video can always be trimmed to a 60-second version for Instagram, a 30-second version for a YouTube pre-roll ad or a 6-second blast. Just remember that the longer-form, 3-minute version offers viewers storytelling and engagement opportunities that don’t normally occur with the shorter versions. If you are trying to engage parents and demonstrate what makes your school exceptional, the longer version might just be the way to go.

Have you tested short-form and long-form videos? What was your experience? Please share with the rest of the school marketing community by commenting below. We’d love to hear from you!

Exclusive FREE Bonus: Download the pdf Are Short-Form or Long-Form Videos Better for School Marketing? to use now, to reference in the future, and to share with colleagues at your school.

Subscribe to the School Marketing Insider

The School Marketing Insider is a weekly newsletter that delivers curated resources to stimulate curiosity, inspire collaboration, and accelerate innovation to drive school marketing professionals ahead of the curve.