It’s an interesting topic, and one that forms a consideration of every brief we see. It’s also a vast one, backed by a plethora of research, focus groups and psychology, so clearly I’m only going to scratch the surface.
The one thing I do want to highlight is the misconception of short attention spans, in that there’s often a preconception that people have short attention spans and they therefore need to be fed short, snappy content that grabs them from the outset.
This preconception often becomes firmer with clients the younger the audience; Generation Z, Millennials, et al.
However, in our experience, this simply isn’t the case, and even headline industry trends over the last few years can be quite telling:
What this tells us, and from experience, is that people’s attention spans aren’t short as a rule. However, they are when the content isn’t interesting, relevant or engaging.
Runtimes form part of the brief and concept stage, but the post stage also has a huge part to play. Sometimes an edit that’s 60s long can feel lengthy, and other times a 3min edit can feel like it needs more.
The variables involved here are countless; from the nuances of a contributor’s delivery, to how and when music changes gears, to what’s actually being spoken about and the precise details of what’s being shown.
There’s a reason our editor is one of the best storytellers in the house.
Because of this, we would always advise clients to be open-minded with regards to runtimes, even if for a social platform.
To the right audience, even long-form content will perform well if it’s interesting, relevant and engaging.