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Case Study: Finding Out the Optimal Explainer Video Length

Originally published December 1, 2016  ·  Updated January 31, 2024
Case Study: Finding Out the Optimal Explainer Video Length

Explainer videos are commonly used by companies to quickly and easily reach out to their audience when telling their stories, what they do, and what their business is all about.

This type of method has been so effective that it has now become a standard for companies to use.

If your company wants to join in and create videos to promote your business, too, you might ask, “How long should our video be for it to stand out?”

You’re likely familiar with the idea that a shorter explainer video length is generally better.

That idea is based on the premise that short videos get straight to the point and hold attention better than long, dragged-out messages.

The deficit of human attention spans has a direct impact on content and video marketing.

Finding the Optimal Explainer Video Length

Unlike previous decades when the TV was the popular option, people are now free to check any online content with a simple mobile phone.

Business owners have recognized this change and are producing videos with the mobile platform in mind.

As a result, we are surrounded by great content and our minds find it hard to keep up.

SumoMe looked at 650,000 sessions and found that 80% of Internet surfers don’t read articles from start to finish.

In order for people to understand your message, you need to find a simple yet quick way to draw their attention.

Potential customers are watching your video while asking themselves, “Can you solve my problem?

Making this video short is the only thing that matters.

You need to have a video to answer this question. Look at how we created an explainer video for Saleswhale where we highlight the company’s benefits from the first few seconds:

Oh, let’s not forget the average human attention span that has alarmingly changed throughout the years. From 12 seconds to 8 seconds.

It is now shorter than the average attention span of a goldfish!

Human attention span is not only a reference to determine a video’s length, but it also plays a significant role in the industry of video marketing, too.

According to Wistia, the average video length should be no more than 2 minutes.

Anything more than that and the audience loses engagement with your video.

Because of this, video marketing has been evolving and shifting to cater to our needs.

With that in mind, it is safe to assume there would be a significant correlation between explainer video length and view duration.

We dove into our YouTube channel (which is 90% explainer videos) and collected analytic data throughout 2016.

Check out the article to see what we learned!

Audience Retention Rate Is Related to Explainer Video Length

The majority of our explainers have different lengths.

We wanted to find out if our viewers take video length into consideration when they decide to watch one of our videos and whether they have a good experience as the video goes on.

We expected the audience retention rate to decrease for longer videos.

The expectation was that 1-minute videos should have higher audience retention rates (not views) than 3-minute videos.

Let’s make it more visual to see what happens next:

Audience Retention and Video Length

Our channel has 584 public videos that have generated around 560,000 views at the writing of this blog post. We believe that the results are representative of wider explainer video trends.

How Long Should an Explainer Video Be Then?

Our prediction was on point, although the graph isn’t a duplicate of what we predicted earlier.



The sweet spot for an explainer clip is 1 to 2 minutes long.

When the explainer video length reaches 2 minutes in duration, the average views drop from 77% to 57%, and that’s a significant difference when we’re talking about different types of explainers.

There are a few important points that you can take from our research.

Animated videos shorter than 60 seconds have the highest audience retention rate

Explainers are meant to be compact and filled with bite-sized information for viewers.

The data says the average audience retention rate of a 1-minute explainer video (or less) is 77%.

It means that a 60-second video (on average) will hold viewers’ attention for roughly 47 seconds.

After 3 or 4 minutes, people will simply stop watching a video in question regardless of its quality.

The audience retention rate gradually decreases as the explainer’s length increases

The longer an animated clip is, the fewer viewers it retains. After an explainer video length reaches the 2-minute mark, every second of it counts.

If it goes longer than that, it will likely have a negative impact on engagement forcing a person to close the video.

So, we suggest that you avoid going past the 2-minute mark unless you truly have to, and there is no other way to squeeze your content into the first 2 minutes.

It’s best to search for a way to remove some of the resources and elements of the video.

The acceptable average animated video length is anywhere between 1 and 2 minutes

Although the graph line seems to drop significantly after the first minute, 1 to 2-minute explainers are still powerful enough to get the most important parts of your content up-front.

This is why most experts say that the perfect explainer video length should be around 90 seconds.

The average viewer retention of a 1-2 minute explainer clip is 57%, which means that average viewers will receive half of your content. That’s why it’s important to plan your script before pitching it to an explainer video company.

Explainers more than 2-minute long have only a 47% retention rate

After the 2-minute mark, exponential decay kicks in.

The longer your explainer video length is, the less retention your video will have–and the difference is significant.

The audience retention rate after 2 minutes dropped significantly.

This isn’t to say that you should cut a 4-minute video down to 2 minutes.

Some of your content might require longer videos. But the stats suggest that eliminating the last 30 seconds from a 2-minute, 30-second video will help keep the retention rate high.

In the end, you can sign in to your own YouTube Analytics account and check it yourself.

The Sweet Spot: 90 Seconds

Most explainer videos are between 45-90 long. Less than 45 seconds won’t be enough time to get your point across, and any longer than 90 seconds can bore your audience.

That said, when it comes to creating an explainer video for your new product or service, a 90-second explainer video will suit you best.

You may ask why when there are shorter explainer videos out there that do it for less than 90 seconds.

The reason for this is you are not just trying to sell your product or service to your audience, you’re also trying to gain their trust.

The critical point in creating an explainer video for your product or service is to connect to your audience.

You start by showing your audience a common problem or a standard dilemma in an industry your company specializes in.

This creates trust between your brand and your audience.

What About Videos that are More Than 3 Minutes Long?

Just like a piece of writing, an explainer video should be only as long as it needs to be.

Some people think that if you increase the length of the content, you are able to better explain the key features of a product or a service.

Unfortunately, most people won’t get to a point where they start caring about what you have to sell.

Animated clips beyond 3 minutes are likely to be a deep introduction to a product, a brand story, or a very intense tutorial on how to use products or services.

In such events, the viewers can expect a longer video, but it will no longer fall under the category of an explainer video.

An animated explainer makes complex things simple by explaining product features to customers on your website.

Dragging the explainer video length means making the information transfer more complicated.

So make sure to choose simple topics which clients can learn a lot about in the shortest amount of time possible.

How to Make Your Explainer Videos Short and Focused?

Making your videos effective doesn’t merely rely on their length.

Here are key elements on how you can make your explainer videos short without sacrificing your core messages.

Carry a Single Amplified Message

Whether you want to introduce your business, explain an idea, or show how your product works – you should include a single statement in your explainer video, with everything in it built to amplify its effect.

Don’t even try to cover 20 things in a 60-second video. People will quickly get bored and forget your message.

If your video covers only one important message, it is easier for viewers to understand and subconsciously memorize.

It’s All About the Story

A key to making your audience interested throughout your video is making sure your story is well-written.

Try to research more on how to write a story that sends a unique message and gets your audience hooked on the spot.

If you don’t know where to begin, look at your competitors and start from there.

Remember to order your story properly. Keep it simple and refrain from using jargon that wouldn’t make sense to your audience.

It’s essential that you find the right tone and, whenever appropriate, try to use humor in your video.

Also, always be concise when presenting the main idea of your company’s value. Most explainer videos offer a problem and how a startup can solve it with its product or service.

Your video can follow this formula, but it is always better to consult with an expert animator to ensure that you get great advice that meets your expectations.

Plan the Visuals and Voice-Over

One concept that companies assume is that animated visuals and storytelling work in a combined manner.

Although this is true, the precise relationship between these two is that they work as companions. One simply cannot work without the other.

Animated visuals will illustrate the story you need, but to make an exceptional video, you will need the overall tone of the story.

A poorly-written text will confuse audiences and distract them from your core message.

When it comes to selecting the right voice-over talent, you can’t choose solely who has the most glowing reviews or the most experienced in their industry.

Find the right balance on how they can complement your story and still hold the attention of your audience without sounding too salesy.

Plan for the Video Launch

You have a compelling story and an animated video that makes your test audience want to share it with their contacts.

You may think you’re all set, but one aspect of creating an effective video is to plan how you launch it.

This is where marketing comes into play. You can’t just post your video and expect the numbers to start coming in.

There’s a specific day in a week and time in a day when you can gain the highest number of views for your video.

Do proper research in your industry and learn from there.

Once you have your video launched, share it on social media, create an email blast, or post it on your website to get as much exposure as possible.

A well-thought-out plan with proper research will gain you better benefits in the future.

Takeaway: Hitting the Sweet Spot

In the end, what matters in creating an effective video is being able to convey the most valuable information in the shortest amount of time.

Hitting your audience’s ‘sweet spot,’ as they say, is the most vital component of any video.

Paying attention to your users’ retention rate is key to creating an effective video.

The length of your video should match the attention span of your target audience.

This way, you get the chance to deliver valuable information while enabling your audience to retain most of it.

If your video length goes beyond your audience’s attention span, the worst-case scenario would be your audience entirely abandoning your video.

They won’t be able to see or click through your call-to-action at the end, and user engagement will have completely failed.

After all, an explainer’s purpose is to explain a product, service, or virtually anything in bite-sized information. That means the shorter it is, the better results it will achieve (based on its essential purpose).

So, always remember that the length of an explainer video is crucial for your sales.

If you manage to persuade a viewer to watch a video from start to finish, you will have better odds of telling your story, creating a connection to your brand, and ultimately, forcing an action.

Here’s how to determine how long your explainer clip should be:

  • If possible, squeeze your script into a 1-minute video. This time range has the best viewer retention.
  • If you can’t keep it to 1 minute, try to keep it under 2 minutes. Three-minute videos can also work well if you’re able to create top-notch content.
  • Try to compress a video that is more than 2 minutes into 2 minutes.

Here at Breadnbeyond, an effective video isn’t limited to 90 seconds. With an approximate timeframe of 25 business working days, we can also create 60-second videos that gain just as many results.

Don’t hastily create a video just because everyone else is launching theirs and you need to keep up with the trends.

Remember that an explainer video should embody your brand and your company’s values.

Click on the banner below to start creating your short and focused explainer videos!

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