Who’s Into Online Video and What Are They Watching?

At recent gathering presented by Co-OperativeLabs here in Minneapolis the topic of online video was discussed. The two presenters, Bill Hague ofFrank N. Magid Associates and Steven Rosenbaum of Magnify.net, offered a sort of wind-up and pitch approach in their individual presentations. In this post I’ll concentrate on the wind-up, information shared from a Magid research project, and we’ll address the pitch, an approach to using video content from Steven, in a future post.

Bill offered some interesting insight on the topic of who is consuming online video and toward what types of video they are gravitating. Bill himself addresses the high points in this video. I’ll highlight some further info below.

Please note: The survey questions were asked of people who use the internet.

Beyond what Bill mentions in the video interview I found some of the perceptions of advertising in online video interesting. (Click the graphs to make them big enough to read.)

In general, the study indicates very strong growth in online video audience across all demographics with (surprise) the younger audience being the biggest fans. But from a marketing perspective, with great opportunity comes some risk. Especially when “traditional” advertising is looked at.

Though not highlighted in the Key Findings portion of the presentation I think it’s important to note that though 45% of respondents who view online video content find advertising “as acceptable” as TV ads, 20% say ads are “less acceptable” and 28% weren’t “sure”.  With nearly 50% of respondents that are either opposed or unsure about advertising there are some pretty high negative attitudes toward ads in this space. I would assert those negative ads have been precipitated by TV’s over saturation of commercials in programming. Too many ads is what the viewer is trying to get away from.

Further, when probing respondents about ad type and location, 43% prefer a short ad and 28% said no ads were acceptable. Also, take a look at the numbers as they pertain to where ads are placed. Thinking about interrupting their online viewing? I’d think again. In fact, you may need to think more about more unobtrusive types of marketing including product placement or other emerging ad vehicles.


By the way, what about those folks who don’t want to watch online video? The biggest barrier noted here is screen size…not technology or quality. We just loves our big screens, don’t we.

Finally, for those TV execs sweating hand grenades about losing viewers to online…yeah, it’s happening. 20% of online video viewers (extrapolated to 14% of total population) are spending less time on the tube. As the study points out “online cannibalization is small but significant.” It’s good to know that there are a fair amount of us that site in front of the TV with our laptops with over 50% go online while watching TV.

Based on this research, here’s what you should consider when including video in your online presence or marketing mix.

  • Make it short!
  • Be confident in reaching an audience beyond just “the kids”.
  • America’s screen time is increasing with watching TV and using the internet at the same time becoming more popular.
  • Watching TV is still top dog but it’s clear the pie is going to be cut differently.
  • Be careful how you handle ads. It’s time to think differently. With the huge amount of professionally generated and user generated content out there, it’s easy for your viewer to look for something else if you cram too many ads down there throat.

Download the slide deck of the presentation here and let me know what you think.