Online Attention Span Is Short

Reader Mark Beall noted that the NBC station in Cleveland reports that since online is becoming more and more a part of our daily lives in the media business, it might be helpful to keep in mind some basic research to make your efforts most beneficial. In short, brevity is best!  Especially producers who create online video should read this. Online video distribution/measurement service Tube Mogul studied the issue of
follow thorough, measuring what percentage of videos clicked on are actually watched until the end. A sample of 188,055 videos on 6 top sites (YouTube was not one of them) found that 10.39% of viewers clicked away after just 10 seconds and that over half of the audience left after one minute.

The longer the video, the quicker erosion; all but 16.62% of the audience left the building by the end of a 3-minute clip. Tube Mogul notes that the research indicates that overlay ads should also be placed as early as possible within the video stream.

Audience Attention Span

Video length    % of Audience who watched the entire video
10 sec.                   89.61%
20 sec.                   80.41%
30 sec.                   66.16%
60 sec.                   46.44%
2 min.                   23.71%
3 min.                   16.62%
5 min.                    9.42%

Source: Tube Mogul & Cynposis

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  1. Good to know… but be careful.  As everyone knows, sometimes research itself is trying to sell something.  I took a look at the blog you reference here and found that the author is referencing stats sourced from Tube Mogul & Cynposis.  To be fair,the author points out that YouTube was NOT included in the research data (which seems a little odd to me).

    This gets me to thinking… does this rule apply to podcasts?  Likewise, it seems that folks who intend to come watch a video (like they might at YouTube) would be willing to stay longer. In fact, they may have come with a Coke and some popcorn. Our website (http://www.ageofthestoryteller.org) has some video on it and we are experiencing better numbers than this study would suggest.  Presently, we have an average visit length of over 5 minutes. Many of our videos are over 3 minutes in length.  

    It would seem that these research numbers may be more about direct marketing campaigns.  I would love to see the same study with YouTube factored in.

    Either way, in the event that folks are trying to draw in an audience (advertise), this is critical information.  For those who already have a devoted audience, I should hope their audience would expect more than 10 seconds of content.

    My two cents! 

  2. That’s a good point Luke about the audience. I began to wonder if short videos have a place – to help build an audience – then videos can become longer according to the subject matter and people would be willing to watch all the way through.

    Some will surely watch no matter what, but how do we draw those with a shorter attention span and take them on a journey? But it’s good to keep reminded about the time. Sometimes we can take two minutes to say what could be adequately said in 60 seconds. 🙂

    And it would be good to know why Youtube wasn’t included.

    Allen Paul Weaver III
    Author, Transition: Breaking Through the Barriers

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