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yesmail-youtube-campaign-video-length-june2012.pngWhile 33% of the most-engaging YouTube campaigns run under 30 seconds, only 11% of campaigns by volume run that length, per findings from a Yesmail Interactive study [download page] released in June 2012. And although YouTube campaigns rose sharply over the 3-month study period – by about 38% to 80 across all brands (3.5 campaigns per brand) – the average campaign engagement plummeted by roughly 66%. Yesmail’s actual engagement measure adjusts for follower size; rather than measure by sheer volume of Facebook Likes or YouTube views, actual engagement is a measure of individuals’ behavior. Thus one campaign may outnumber another in followers by 10 to 1, but its actual engagement may be far lower.

Duration Does Not Match Actual Engagement

Some 45% of all campaigns for 20 leading apparel brands (including Abercrombie & Finch, Old Navy and American Apparel) ran between 30 and 90 seconds. But of the top 10% in terms of actual engagement, a plurality (33%) ran under 30 seconds, while just 39% ran between 30 and 90 seconds. A further 28% ran either between 120-180 seconds (17%) or more than 180 seconds (11%).

The study indicates that much of why brands choose the longer formats is due to choice of content: TV commercials typically run from under 30 to 90 seconds, while music videos, short documentaries and user-generated content usually run over 120 seconds.

According to recent comScore data, video ads accounted for 21.6% of all videos viewed and 1.9% of all minutes spent viewing video online in May. While the duration of the average online content video was 6.5 minutes, the duration of the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes – or 24 seconds.

If duration is a key variable in engagement, then, the challenge for brands is to create video that is short enough to be digestible for the consumer, but long enough to tell a compelling story that prompts a reaction. And if video advertisers want to take a cue from a recently-released Nielsen study of CPG ads from 2006 to 2011, it’s best they focus on funny or sentimental ads at the expense of those that hone in on promotions or prices.

Marketers Missing Other Opportunities, Too

Marketers deploying campaigns on YouTube appear to be missing the boat with regards to the optimal days for deployment. Despite Monday being the most engaging day for YouTube, it is one of the 3 least-utilized deployment days. By contrast, the largest number of YouTube campaigns were deployed on Friday and Thursday.

Other Findings:

  • 15% of the brands tracked do not have a YouTube channel.
  • Only 35% of the brands that have a YouTube channel deployed campaigns during each of the 3 months tracked. 20% only deployed campaigns in 1 of the months.
  • Roughly two-thirds of the YouTube campaigns were deployed between 11AM and 7PM ET. Surprisingly, the 2AM – 3AM timeslot achieved the highest engagement. It may be that these campaigns are reaching insomniacs: according to recent figures from Resonate, insomniacs are 34% more likely to watch TV on a computer, 31% more likely to watch from a tablet, and 24% more likely to watch on a cell phone.

About the Data: Yesmail used its Yesmail Market Intelligence tool to tracks, collect and analyze all digital campaigns deployed through email, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, for 20 leading apparel brands and retailers over a three-month period. Those brands included The Gap, Abercrombie & Finch, Ralph Lauren and Urban Outfitters, among others. Brands were selected for their strong reliance on social media marketing, and for their focus upon the 18-35 year old demographic.

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