Shorter & Better

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The average length of an online video is about 6.5 minutes, and getting longer by 12 seconds every month. Much of this can be attributed to increases in storage, bandwidth and access to video cameras.

According to people that study this stuff, of the 80% of video ads that are abandoned, that abandonment comes within the first half of the ad, and 20% of online video viewers click away from a video within the first 10 seconds.

There are more videos out there than ever before, and most of us will bail out before getting to the end of them. If a video is five minutes long and I don't have five minutes to spare, I'll skip it. If it's a minute long, and appears to be interesting, I'll start it. Usually within 10 seconds I know if I want to watch the remaining 50. Usually I don't.

People used to be entertained by dancing babies, and five minutes of video used to seem short, especially when coupled with the novelty of watching on a laptop or mobile device. Now it's commonplace to watch videos everywhere, and five minutes of video feels like an eternity.

Videos ask us for a certain amount of our time which can't be condensed or accelerated. A five minute video takes five minutes to watch. There's no way around that. Not yet.

As the video continues to pile up, we'll become more selective with what we watch. By necessity, duration, quality and curation will become increasingly important with video content.

If it's getting harder to keep people's attention, then videos will need to get shorter and better. At what point are they "short and good enough?" Is there a sweet spot for the human attention span? Will a one minute video need to become 30 seconds to keep peoples' attention? Will 30 seconds then become 15, and so on until videos are so short, and so good, that they only take one second to watch? 

What if that one second video is nothing more that a still image, that is so efficient, and so perfectly crafted that it can communicate in an instant what used to take five minutes?