For online video time isn’t a barrier, quality is

You hear a lot about the attention spans of consumers especially as it relates to online consumption habits. “Consumers won’t watch videos longer than 2 minutes, 37 seconds.” Or some such. “Twitter is so popular because it taps in to our short attention spans.”

I think these notions are patently false and are approaching the problem from the wrong direction. Consumers aren’t watching your long videos, not because they are long, but because they aren’t any good. Here’s a short film(note I don’t call it a commercial) for Johnnie Walker, made by BBH. Six minutes and 28 seconds of exceptional quality:

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That’s terrifically compelling filmmaking in support of a brand. Read the full story over at BBH Labs. This is such a departure from the “let’s make a viral video!”-mentality that drives things like the Cadbury Dancing Eyebrows, which, six months from now will have little to know relavance for that brand. But this Johnnie Walker video could be played 100 years from now, and it will still be a true representation of the brand.

As a soccer (football) fan, I often hear the complaint that soccer is boring. No, not inherently. Sure, there are boring games (we call those MLS matches), but a well played 1-0 or even 0-0 game can be extremely compelling. Similarly, was there anything boring about last week’s 15 inning Red Sox v. Yankees marathon? No, that was edge of your seat stuff.

Is making a two minute piece easier than making an eight minute one? Perhaps, but I’m not certain. I think quality takes as long as quality takes, and you can’t put pre-defined limits on what’s going to work. S0, rather than focus on length, focus on quality and the next time someone tells you that online videos have to be a certain length, tell them to Keep Walking.


Disclosure – I’ve worked on Johnnie Walker in the past, supporting their F1 and cricket sponsorships, and my agency, Taylor, has been a partner with Diageo for around 20 years. We had nothing to do with this film however.