Does Size Matter? Finding the Right Video Ad Length

Have you ever wondered if size really matters? For some things, the answer is no. For other things, maybe. When it pertains to video ads, however, the answer is a resounding yes! But, it’s not a simple “one-size-fits-all” answer. There are many things to consider when determining which video ad length is best for your campaign.

Video Ad Length & Audience

Identifying the target audience of your advertising campaign is key to determining which video ad length will produce the best results. For example, millennials consume content completely different than their parents and grandparents. They want things fast and in bite-size pieces, and they want to consume it on their mobile devices. Micro video ads that run between six and ten seconds in length are a great fit for millennials. For older audiences, however, longer video ads are better. The optimal length for this group tends to fall between 30 and 60 seconds.

Although micro ads may play well with a millennial audience, research has shown that shorter ads work best for established brands and not those who need to build awareness or convey complex messages. For relatively unknown brands, or new businesses, a video ad should be at least 15 seconds in length to drive any type of measurable action. Recent data has also shown that video ads that fall between 15 and 30 seconds get the most views. To ensure your audience is getting the message and retaining it, we highly recommend keeping your videos in this range, though there are exceptions to every rule.

video ad length

Video Ad Length & Social Media

When Google introduced 6-second YouTube bumper ads in 2016, many were skeptical that six seconds could adequately convey a brand, let alone a message. Fast-forward to 2018, and these creative little blips are still going strong. Maybe it’s because the average attention span is now shorter than a gold fish, or maybe it’s because we’re spending more time consuming our information through social media platforms; whatever the reason, these short video ads perform well on most social media platforms, especially Snapchat.

All social media ad consumption, however, is not the same. There are certain nuances for each platform, so it’s important to not only know which video specs work best, but also which video ad length will get the best results.


Instagram may be a relative newcomer to video advertising, but it’s quickly becoming a major player. In fact, Instagram surpassed Facebook and YouTube in video engagement in Q1 2017.  The average time spent per day is between 24 and 32 minutes (depending on your age), but most users are only on for a few minutes at a time throughout the day. That’s why Instagram video ads are between 15 seconds (Instagram stories) and 60 seconds (in-feed & carousel ads). If you have a longer video ad, simply re-purpose it for this channel by breaking it into smaller ads that play more like a movie trailer. This not only works better for this audience, but keeps them coming back for more. Bumper ads (six-second ads) are very effective on Instagram, as well.


Over 100 million hours of video per day is consumed on Facebook. That’s a lot of competition, so you’ll need to make sure your video ad stands out. The first three seconds of your video ad are the most important. If you don’t “hook” viewers during that time, they’re likely to move on to something else in their feed. You’ll also need to add text to your video since most Facebook users consume video without sound. Be sure your video ad is also optimized for vertical viewing. Research shows that mobile devices are in vertical (portrait) mode 98 percent of the time. Vertical video completion rates are also 9x higher than horizontal. More importantly, keep Facebook video ads around 10 seconds for optimal engagement.


Twitter offers two types of video advertising: promoted videos and pre-roll ads. Both will autoplay on mute as users scroll through their timelines and allow up to 2 minutes and 20 seconds of ad time. For larger brands, this stretches to 10 minutes. Does that mean your video ad should be the maximum length allowed? No. Twitter users like things short & sweet. If you plan to advertise on this platform, we highly recommend keeping your ads around 30 seconds. Just be sure to grab them early and end with a strong call to action (CTA).


Unlike Facebook and Twitter, where people tend to stumble upon video organically in their feeds, YouTube users are specifically looking for videos to watch. And, unless it’s the new Super Bowl ads, they are probably not searching for advertisements, nor do they want them continually interrupting their videos. Remember this when creating your YouTube video ads. Since most people can skip the ad after five seconds (in-stream), be sure to put the important (and interesting) information at the front of your ad. Next, make sure the sound quality of your ad is very good. Unlike the other social platforms, YouTube users want to hear what’s playing. And finally, keep the video ad length between 15 and 60 seconds to ensure more people will watch the ad to the end.

Final Thoughts

As we mentioned earlier, there are exceptions to every rule. These general guidelines for video ad length will work for most digital campaigns, but certain types of video ads demand more time. How-to videos, explainer videos and those with complex subjects typically have longer run times than those pushing a sale or an event. It’s best to experiment with different ad lengths to determine the “sweet spot” for your company’s marketing efforts. Just remember to grab your audience’s attention early and make it entertaining. If you can nail that, you have a good shot at converting some viewers into paying customers.

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