Corporate Eye

Best Length for Social Video Ads

social video ads cameraSocial video advertising is one of the big buzz topics among marketers these days, particularly since some advertisers have seen their ads spread across YouTube users and social media farther and wider than ever lately.

According to Unruly Media’s October 2012 viral video chart data, the top 20 most shared ads include Coca-Cola’s Coke Zero, GoPro’s Hero3 Black Edition Camera, Ashton Bikes, Red Bull, Chanel in the top five spots, respectively. The most-shared ad received 790,556 shares while the ad in the #20 spot (from Microsoft Surface) received 107,940 shares.

What makes a great social video? Tapping into emotions by telling stories that create interesting and meaningful brand experiences are the most important steps, but there seems to be a sweet spot in the length of ads that are more likely to get shared and go viral. ReelSEO shared insights from Unruly Media this week about social video ad duration, and the results might surprise you.

According to the Unruly Media study, the average video length of the top 50 most shared global video ads were:

  • Top 10 – 4 minutes 11 seconds (2,513 total seconds – does not include “Kony 2012”)
  • 11-20 – 2 minutes 30 seconds (1,501 total seconds)
  • 21-30 – 3 minutes 5 seconds (1,849 total seconds)
  • 31-40 – 2 minutes 57 seconds (1,770 total seconds)
  • 41-50 – 1 minute 45 seconds (1,049 total seconds)
  • Top 50 – 2 minutes 54 seconds (8,682 total seconds – does not include “Kony 2012”)

Many research reports in the past have shown that videos that are too long will have a high abandonment rate and with that comes a low share rate. The same is true of videos that are extremely short. However, even a 15-second pre-roll ad before an online video can be enough to motivate people to click away without watching the video content. If your ad doesn’t say something compelling within the first 5-seconds (and absolutely within the first 15-seconds), then your ad is likely to fail. It might even damage the success of the video it’s displayed with.

The trick is finding the right kind of video content to interest and engage your target audience. Greg Jarboe of ReelSEO asked Unruly Media Head of Content David Waterhouse about how marketers can marry engaging brand content with the fast-moving online audience in order to increase sharing. You can read the full interview here. You can also keep up on the Unruly Media viral video chart here. It’s a great place to learn what type of video ad content is resonating with the online audience to help you with your own strategies and planning.

Image: Jacob Power

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.