Animated Video Production

People are Goldfish. Use Animated Video

Shawn 01.13.2014

Attention spans are at an all-time low – around 8 seconds – and marketers are struggling to keep pace with what I call, “Goldfish Marketing.” Namely, “How do you engage an audience of virtual goldfish – especially if your product requires a detailed explanation?”

Use 30-Second Video.

Video accounts for 56% of all web traffic, and the use of visual information online has increased 9900% since 2007. That’s not a typo.

The people have spoken, and they’re screaming for more visual information with every click of the mouse. Great. You read the blogs, follow the advice, produce a video that explains your product, and still see your page traffic bouncing after only a few seconds. Why? There’s a caveat to using animated video.

It has to be GOOD – and good usually means “short.”

Wisita analyzed identical video displayed in both 30-second and 90-second formats to measure viewer retention levels. The results were telling:

30-second video viewer engagement rate was nearly double that of 90-second video.

Surprisingly, the engagement curve paralleled each other in both videos – meaning the same uninterested viewers left at the same times – but the rate of viewer decay during the shorter video was half as steep – 45% of viewers were still watching at the end of the 30-second video, while only 25% made it to the 0:30 mark of the 90-second video. A shorter run time single-handedly halved bounce rates, effectively doubling the sales funnel. Decreased bounce rate also does wonders for SEO rankings.

What’s so engaging about shorter videos? Does it just satisfying our 8-second attention span? Sort of. However, many would argue that condensing your concept into thirty seconds does more than just appease our thirst for bite-sized data. Condensing your message often makes the content not just more viewable, but more valuable. Mark Twain once wrote:

“I didn’t have the time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Brevity is an asset, not a limitation. One look at the explosion of 6-second videos on Vine and the success of Instagram’s 15-second format should quell any argument. Look at Lowe’s “Fix in Six” video campaign:

Don’t churn out drivel to stay on schedule or drive page views. Invest in video that delivers value.

Interestingly, “shorter video is better” is not the end of the story. Wistia’s data revealed something surprising about longer videos as well. Once a video passes the two-minute threshold, viewership remains relatively steady until about the ten-minute mark. While that seems counter-intuitive to marketers screaming their message in nanoseconds, it says a lot about why people like video in the first place.

People crave usefulness.

A University of Indiana study showed that a group following directions with visual instructions performed 323% better than a group with no visuals. We are hard-wired to process visual information.

Viewers will stick with entertaining, informative video if it’s “what they need” – regardless of run time. The bounce rate is only high when a video strives to be short and fails to deliver value. Look at the success of lengthy explainer videos, like the RSA whiteboard series, which routinely run over ten minutes, yet have millions of views.

The solution to “Goldfish Marketing” is frustratingly simple, yet elusive to execute:

Provide Video with Value…and do it quickly.

There is no substitute for quality. The most cleverly packaged message and leveraged analytics won’t receive the same engagement as genuinely useful information. Don’t let this intimidate you. Borrow a page out of Twain’s book and take the time create great content.

Even if it’s just for goldfish.


Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at
  • Jeremy

    Great post, loved it. You have the same video embedded twice, fyi.

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