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The Changing Environment of Online Video

Posted on 3.02.2008
eMarketer released some numbers late last week, some of which are worth noting. The idea that online video is soaring is nothing new - eMarketer projects that near 80% of Internet users will have watched video online by the end of the year.

Based on data from Nielsen, eMarketer made some calculations about changing unique visitor data to online video portals. From January 2007 - November 2007 shares of unique visitors:
A separate study, comissioned by the IBM Institute for Business Value in April 2007 analyzed why online video viewers choose certain channels. Of those, 46% responded with better content selection, 23% said faster downloading/streaming and 21% said because friends go there. In my opinion, those are the numbers that matter.

As video capabilities grow, so do expectations. And that means being able to find what you want, when you want it, and the ability to start viewing that content in a timely manner.

But friends carry a tremendous amount of weight - especially in today's social networking-crazed atmosphere. With the sheer selection of online video, sfiting throught the clutter can be a difficult task. Sometimes, I find myself visiting the YouTube home page without even knowing what I'm looking for. But, if a friend recommends something to me or, better yet sends me a link, the video is watched almost immediately. These days users can share videos through networks like MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn (how about sharing an instructional video with all of your contacts?) - even directly from YouTube. You can set up a personalized home page and see recommendations from friends, subscribe to certain channels and more.

I expect that 21% "because friends go there" number to rise. More to the point, I expect a category of "because friends send me videos" to gain some traction. Frankly, I'm surprised that was overlooked.

For businesses, the future of online video promotion is in syndication. And this means getting appropriate videos noticed by those who spread them and have large networks. Simply uploading a video to YouTube doesn't cut it. You need to get that video noticed and as the Internet (and video) gets more personalized as a whole, getting the right syndication partners will make all the difference. In the end, that means taking time getting to know these networks, participating and ultimately offering value.
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