Short-Form Video: What Advertisers Should Know

Short-form video has become increasingly popular, allowing users to quickly consume information and scroll through never-ending content. Today, 85% of internet users watch videos online and the average person watches over three hours of short-form video content daily. 


But how do we classify short-form video? Google defines them as videos under 10 minutes in length. And though we could classify YouTube as the beginning of short-form video, as they originally only allowed users to upload video under 10 minutes, our modern view of short-form video has now shifted. YouTube has, of course, since changed as the lengths now vary from as little as five seconds up to twelve hours. However, with the average video length at 11.7 minutes, many users now tend to turn to YouTube for longer content and as new platforms have been introduced into the media sphere, the length of short-form video is becoming shorter and shorter. 

The way we watch short-form video has recently evolved from the classic in-feed or YouTube video to an immersive, full-screen, mobile-first experience of endless content, and today it seems like every platform has their own type of short-form video. Whether it be TikTok, Snapchat Spotlight, YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, or Facebook Reels – the newest addition to the lineup. And this just includes those still active today, not considering Vine, the shortest of the short-form with six-second-long looping videos, and, which was eventually bought by Bytedance and developed into TikTok – the most downloaded app for three years running. 

If you’re unconvinced just how popular short -form video has become, “consider this: In 2021, the estimated number of Netflix minutes watched globally was 9.6 trillion. The number of TikTok minutes watched? 22.6 trillion. If you take into account that the average length of a TikTok video is but a mere fraction of the average length of anything on Netflix, the difference in volume of videos watched on TikTok versus videos watched on Netflix is astronomical.”


Why Do People Like Short-Form Video?

The quick answer is that it’s short, easily digestible, and allows users to consume a vast amount of information in a short period. With our ever-shortening attention spans, (humans now have an average attention span of 8.25 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000, and on par with a goldfish’s 8-second span) users are looking for content that catches their eye and gets straight to the point.  

People also love short form videos as they can easily re-watch the content. Do you ever find yourself playing a funny video repeatedly? If a video is only 10 seconds long that’s easy to do, whereas if it’s ten minutes long the odds of someone re-watching the content is extremely low – some might not even make it through the whole video, to begin with. 

What do Advertisers Need to Know? 

Short form video is taking over social media and there is a huge opportunity for advertisers to take part, with 84% of users stating a brand’s video persuaded them to buy a product or a service. But how can advertisers take advantage? With an endless stream of content and new trends quickly arising, advertisers need to stay up to date so they can effectively capture the users’ attention amongst the extensive amount of content. To create an engaging and effective video users aren’t looking for high-quality, studio-produced ads but rather relatable and authentic content.

The same videos that you might use for instream ads or even TV will not work on short-form video platforms. If advertisers aren’t sure how to develop this type of content, leaning on the experts is the best move. Many marketers have opted for using influencers to ensure the content fits seamlessly within the platform and is coming from a trustworthy source. Take @vancouverfoodie’s TikTok as an example. Our partners at Cavendish Farms teamed up with our internal team and Emma Choo to develop a voiceover and handsonly style video that was trending on the platform at the time. This really grabbed users’ attention resulting in over 6 million views. Utilizing creators also provides a benefit to reach users on newer platforms that don’t have a paid ad option yet.  

The next important thing to note when using these platforms is knowing who you’re trying to reach, what platform they’re using, and what platform you’re advertising on. Instagram continues to feature curated and aesthetically pleasing content and that hasn’t changed since adding the Reels feature. Whereas on platforms such as Snapchat Spotlight and TikTok there tends to be more of a mix of content from humour to lifestyle and food – with TikTok having specific communities such as #PlantTok, #CleanTok and #BookTok. It’s crucial to keep this in mind and be strategic when you’re selecting which ads will appear on which platform as a funny video that could go viral on TikTok might not work on a platform like Instagram Reels.

How do we Measure Success? 

Now that we know what type of content users are looking for on which platform, how do we know if our content is successful? This all comes back to your objective, as how you define a successful post or campaign is all dependent on what your original goal was. Every good advertiser should go into a campaign with a clear objective and KPI(s) – whether it be driving awareness with as many completed views as possible or clicks and strong site traffic or even engagement and encouraging users to like and comment on the post or follow you. 

We know that short form video is here to stay, however, that doesn’t mean that advertisers can remain stagnant in their video strategies. Before we know it, a new platform will introduce their version of short form video into the media landscape giving us a new way to reach our audience and a new channel to learn about. Continuing to keep up to date on platforms, trends, and your audience will be key.