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Want to Succeed with Facebook Videos? Keep Them Short

We've seen a massive increase in Facebook Videos in the News Feed. Since Facebook has recently unveiled new metrics to help marketers understand how their videos are performing, we took a look at how people have been interacting with videos.

How long is a typical Facebook Video?

A typical video on Facebook is about 44 seconds long. This number should be taken with a grain of a salt, as there is quite a bit of variance around this figure. It's interesting to note that the length is fairly short and, as such, we think Facebook's News Feed is not the ideal place for long videos.

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Do shorter videos perform better?

For this study, we chose to use completion as our measuring stick – Facebook provides robust metrics around video completion rates, so this makes it a thorough metric for our purposes, and most accurate. We found that videos that were less than ~21 seconds performed in the Top 25% for completion rates.

This finding is partially intuitive, as shorter videos are more likely to be watched to completion due to the fact there is less of a perceived investment on the viewer’s behalf. However, it's important for marketers to understand that their audience will continually, potentially, be distracted away from your video, particularly if the content is not seen as being engaging enough to merit the exact time stated in the video length. Remember, streaming video is the only form of advertising where consumers are explicitly told how much time they will spend focused on the ad. Someone might spend more time looking through and sharing a rich-content image, but they know that a :30 video will ‘cost’ them only the time it takes to watch and share.

Videos that made up the Top 25% Completion Rate, were ~21 seconds long. As the videos were longer, their completion rate decreased. 

How do people watch videos?

We assembled a graph to help better explain how the average Facebook user watches a video. As you can see below, the user retention rate plummets quickly. This is most likely users determining if the video is what they had expected to watch. As viewers settle into the video, the loss rate reduces (although a still fairly steady decrease), and accelerates as the user nears the end of the video.

Interestingly, Facebook counts a video “completed” if the user watches 95% of the video. Looking at the data, this is a smart choice, as the 2nd most severe drop-off occurs at the final 5%. It's also makes sense due to credits/adver­tisements/etc at the end of videos. 

How many people “complete” a video?

We found that ~57% of viewers who started watching a video, completed the video. According to the graph above, this data seems to add up. The data was fairly consistent, with only a 6% variance. 

How does this retention rate compare to YouTube?

Although this is unconfirmed, we understand that Retention Rates on YouTube tend to hang around the ~40% mark. If this data holds true, Facebook Videos are outperforming YouTube videos. This increase in retention rate could be attributed to more intelligent distribution of videos on Facebook, due to Facebook's News Feed algorithm doing a better job of matching up interested users with engaging videos than Youtube does. 

How does a brand optimize for video?

  1. Facebook is giving videos a ton of exposure in the News Feed right now. If your brand has the ability to produce high quality video content, we'd strongly suggest that you begin producing videos.
  2. Create engaging content that will capture an audience beyond the first severe drop-off
  3. If you have a call-to-action or something similar, be sure to include it sooner than later in your video. As every second goes by, there is a higher likelihood that your audience will bounce from your video.
  4. Avoid putting all of your “business value” in a final credit slide. Even engaged users will most likely exit your video as it nears the end of the video.

Conclusion

Facebook is putting a lot of emphasis on video lately. Anecdotally, we've heard many general users mention an over abundance of videos in their News Feeds. Facebook is strongly pushing for ads on videos, which may be part of the reason we're seeing an increase in recent success.

We encourage brands to try creating video content and testing how they perform with your own audience.


How did we study this data?

This is brand new data from Facebook. We examined as much data as we could pull from July 2014. This data is from roughly 1,000 pages that posted 3,000 videos. Viewer Retention data is directly from Facebook's API converted from their intervals of 0–40 to the corresponding percentages.

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