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How long should my explainer video be?

You know that an animated video is a great way to share information in an entertaining and memorable way… but how much time do you need to tell your story? With animated videos ranging anywhere from 15 seconds to 5 minutes, you’ve got a lot of options to choose from.

Here’s your quick guide to choosing the right length for your animated explainer video.

In general, shorter videos (30-60 seconds) are great for marketing a product or service, and getting someone to take a next step, like visit your website, sign up for a demo, or learn more. Supershort videos (10-15 seconds) are often edited-down versions of longer videos, and are used as quick teasers to drive people to a website, or to a longer video. Longer videos (2-4 minutes) are better for training your employees, or informing an audience about a topic, process, or system. Because it’s harder to keep someone’s attention for longer than a minute these days (hello, internet goldfish attention span), these videos work best with a captive audience.

30-second explainer videos are great for social media – they capture attention quickly and are short enough to keep that attention for the duration of the video. Because of the length, it’s not a great format for conveying a lot of information – think of a 30-second video as a teaser for other, more robust content. It’s not a documentary about your company, product, or topic… it’s the movie trailer for that documentary. Here’s an example of a shorter spot that gets to the point and invites viewers to take action:

One minute videos allow for slightly more information than a 30-second video, but are still short enough to grab and hold someone’s attention on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or other social media platforms. One minute is also a good starting point if you’ve never made a video before and aren’t sure how much or how little content is right for you.

Thirty- and sixty-second videos are perfectly suited to TV, since most ad buys require 30- or 60-second spots.

One-and-a-half to two-and-a-half minute videos are where you can really get the meat (the Impossible Burger?) of a subject, do a deeper dive, and explain the finer points of what the thing does, who it’s for, why it works, and why someone might want to use it. Longer videos are great for trainings and internal communications – you already have your audience’s attention, so you aren’t competing with the urge to scroll.

Three to four minutes is a truly luxurious amount of time. If your topic is big and has a lot of moving parts – like a new software demo, a multi-phase project you need to explain in detail, or a training on a new process – three or four minutes can work well. But even with the most compelling topic (which yours certainly is!), four minutes can be too long for some attention spans. Here’s a recent example of an effective and compelling longer video we made with Minnesota-based organization Team Dynamics:

Still have questions about how long your video needs to be? Call us! We’d love to help you figure it out.