YouTube is one of the most important platforms for sharing content today.
You can add videos that only last for a few seconds or that go on for half a day.
You can even do live streams that last forever.
With all these possibilities, how do you know what is the best video length for YouTube?
Figuring this out will depend on your style, the type of content you make, and what your message is.
There is no definitive answer, but after reading this guide, you will have a better understanding of how long YouTube videos can be, how different lengths can influence your statistics and more.
You will also gain an understanding of how video length affects monetization and your overall chance to make money from ads.
Why Does Video Length Matter?
The length of your videos is going to influence how many people watch them and how long they watch them for.
You want to maximize the number of people watching your videos in order to get more views and subscribers.
And you want to know how long each person watches your videos for two reasons:
- Watch time
- Retention rate
These two statistics are going to heavily influence your standing on YouTube.
Both of them are important for getting your videos into the platform’s recommended lists. So what are they?
Watch time can be calculated for both individual videos and the collection on your channel.
The higher the watch time, the better. However, you need to take into account how long your videos are.
For example, 10 minutes of watch time can seem great on one video. If the video is 10 minutes long, it’s fantastic. However, if the video is an hour long, the watch time is quite low.
The retention rate of your video is how much of the content a viewer watches.
If a user only stays engaged for the first 10% of the video before moving on to something else, you’re not going to move up YouTube’s recommended lists.
However, if you can achieve a rate of over 50%, you’re doing well.
Both of these statistics are going to help you determine what length videos your typical viewers want and how engaging your content is.
Do Shorter Or Longer Videos Do Better On YouTube?
There are quite a few ways to think of how well your videos are doing on YouTube.
The more obvious are views, likes, and comments.
However, you can also look at statistics like watch time, retention rate, subscriptions, and more.
With these in mind, you can figure out how long your videos should be.
Short videos tend to have higher retention rates.
You can have a quick think about how you watch content on YouTube. Are you more likely to watch a 30-second video or a 30-minute one from start to finish?
Viewers are also more likely to share shorter videos on social media. Clips that can be delivered and received quickly make for great stories on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and even YouTube Shorts.
On the other hand, longer videos with engaging content can lead to higher watch times.
The number of views may be lower, seeing as it’s harder to maintain people’s interest over a long period of time, but you can use the length for explaining more complex situations with more details.
In terms of monetization, longer videos work best for pre-roll and mid-roll advertisements.
These are the ads that pop up before and throughout the video.
Would you wait through a 15-second ad just to watch a 15-second video?
Probably not. But 15 seconds doesn’t feel so long when you know that a good solid video of 10 minutes is coming up.
Best Video Length For YouTube
To discover the best video length for your YouTube videos, you should determine what sort of content you want to share.
While the average length of videos on this platform is 11.7 minutes, the average for gaming content is 24.7 minutes, while the average for music is 6.8.
So, you need to know your category and know your audience to pick the best length.
Here are a few categories that can work best in a shorter format (less than 10 minutes):
- Product reviews
- Brand videos
And here are some that work best with long videos (over 10 minutes):
- Gaming videos
Should You Change The Length of a Video On YouTube?
Now that you’ve seen how different categories perform and which statistics are more likely to be influenced depending on their length, you may be thinking of making your videos longer or shorter than usual.
However, it’s important to keep two essential YouTube practices in mind:
The main influence on your views will be how engaging your content is.
You should create your videos with your objective in mind. If you need 12 minutes to get your point across, then do it in that time.
If you can do it in less, then that’s what you should do. Just make sure that what you’re sharing is interesting and engaging. Never fill your videos with unimportant fluff content.
A good idea is to have your video planned and strategized in advance - what is your intro, what are your hooks, how are you going to approach the story, what is your video ending, when are you going to insert sponsorships, etc.
Consistency is also going to influence how YouTube users engage with your channel.
If you’re known for quick, short content and you start releasing 15-minute videos, your regular viewers might not maintain their interest.
However, if you want to change your style and you feel that long-form content works for you, then go for it.
What’s important to remember is to not change for the sake of it. Pick an objective and go for it.
Analyze The Average View Duration On Your Channel
The average view duration on your channel is calculated with two metrics: watch time and views.
You can get a clearer idea of how your content is performing when you know how long the average viewer watches your videos.
So, while retention time is the percentage of the video a user has watched, average view duration is calculated in time measurements (hours, minutes, and seconds).
This statistic became important when many videos were posted with misleading titles and thumbnails.
Users would open the video because they thought it was something else, then close it when they realized it wasn’t what they wanted.
Creators that did this would have very low average view durations.
You want to give clear information so that viewers want to open your video and then keep watching it, preferably until the end.
You should aim for engaging titles and thumbnails that are related to the content of the video.
So, if you have a good average view duration, you know that your viewers are watching your video because they are interested in the content and are comfortable with the runtime.
This can help you determine how long future videos can be.
Best YouTube Video Length For Monetization
The possibilities you have of monetizing your videos depend mostly on statistics such as views, retention rate, and more.
You also need to be signed up for the YouTube Partner Program.
The length of your videos won’t influence your eligibility, but it can make a difference to when and where you can introduce ads to your content.
As mentioned above, longer videos give you a better chance for adding mid-roll advertisements.
Aiming for at least eight minutes of footage gives you space for mid-rolls, but you need to keep users strongly engaged so that they’ll keep watching after these kinds of ads.
Viewers are also more likely to tolerate pre-roll ads before long-form content.
The advantages for short videos is that they are more likely to get a higher volume of views. That's why YouTube Shorts get ton of views, but have plenty of downsides in terms of monetization, and how much money you can make off of them.
Keeping your target audience, your niche, and the video’s topic in mind is important before choosing where to insert your ads.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the max video length I can put on YouTube?
The max video length depends on the type of account you have.
If you have a verified account, you can upload up to 12 hours of footage in one video.
However, if your account has not been verified, you can only upload videos that are less than 15 minutes long.
Live streams don’t have a limit, but if you want them to be available for replaying, they need to be under 12 hours for verified accounts and under 15 minutes for unverified accounts.
Should I break long YouTube videos down into multiple parts?
For certain types of content, it can be good to break longer YouTube videos down into multiple parts.
Breaking down tutorials, for example, can be useful for viewers, as they might be looking for a quick fix.
If the video that answers their question is an hour long, they’ll probably look for another option.
Now that you’ve seen the differences between long and short videos on YouTube, you can determine which best suits your style, content, and channel. It’s always important to maintain consistency and levels of engagement, no matter how long a video is.
You can study your watch time and retention rate stats to better assess if your audience is interested in watching long-form content or not. How often your videos are shared can also be an indicator.
If your goal is to monetize your channel, longer videos are better for adding pre- and mid-roll ads.
So, even though there isn’t a definite answer, you can focus on your audience and your niche to choose the video lengths you want to use. And you can always refer back to this guide for a few tips that can help you on your journey.
Have you tried both long and short videos, or do you focus on just one type? Let us know in the comments.