Half Internet Users Visit Video-Sharing Sites

A Pew Internet & American Life Project report reveals how nearly half of Internet users have visited video-sharing sites such as YouTube.

The research, which was carried out between October and December 2007, shows a significant rise in visitors to such sites from the previous year when only a third of those questioned admitted to doing so.

Unsurprisingly, the age group with the biggest proportion of visitors was those aged between18-29 (70 per cent) with the percentage decreasing as the age increased. However, even in the 50-64 age range, one third of those questioned had viewed content on a video sharing site.

Over 2,000 participants were questioned about their Internet habits and how active they were on video sharing sites. The 18-29 age bracket again had the largest number of users, with one third visiting the sites actively. Overall 15 per cent of respondents said they had used a video-sharing site "yesterday" compared to 2006, when only 8 per cent said they had.

This was double the number from the previous year and according to the report, the growth of traffic to these sites can be attributed to a number of factors. The increase in broadband connections has been a significant development. Between December 2006 and December 2007, the number of broadband connections in the home had increased by nearly 10 per cent with 54 per cent of all American adults having high speed connections. An increase in the number of video-sharing sites has also played a part in the new findings.

Internet research company eMarketer believes that the results reveal a potential opportunity for marketers as well as broadcasters. "The fact that younger Internet users are far more likely to be regular visitors to video-sharing sites points to a fork in the road," said David Hallerman, senior analyst at eMarketer.

"On the one hand, marketers looking to target the under-30 demographic can more reliably find them on these video sites. On the other hand, the door is open for big content providers-mainly the TV networks, both broadcast and cable-to bulk up their online offerings, both in quantity and quality," said Hallerman.
A spokesperson for YouTube, attributed the success of video-sharing sites to the community it creates as much as the quality of the videos.

"YouTube is more than just an entertainment destination; it has become a community focused on connecting, informing and inspiring people around the world. It is the community that decides what videos rise up and become popular.  Whether it be user generated content or professional content, the community decides what they want to watch."

"Marketers are really starting to embrace YouTube as an innovative and engaging new way to connect with their target audiences, and they are increasing sales and exposure for their companies and brands in several different ways. In some cases they run video advertising, like InVideo Ads or YouTube video ads, but they are also sponsoring contests, creating brand channels, and adding their own original content to the site."

Erick Hachenburg of video clip sharing site, Metacafe believes that for such sites to progress, there needs to be more quality content that makes the most of the medium.

"We’re actively working to develop to community of independent video creators who make great short videos that entertain a large and diverse audience – best illustrated by our Producer Rewards program, which pays video creators for their best original work as judged by the audience," said Hachenburg.

"We’re also working with mid-sized production companies and major media companies to develop short-form programs made specifically for the interactive Internet medium. In our view, taking TV shows and making them available online – or recreating the traditional television distribution model online – is not terribly interesting. We expect that "user-generated" videos will always provide the foundation for our site – viewers love them, and the volume helps feed consumers’ voracious appetite for content online.  But we do also expect to work with more semi-professional and professional content creators over the course of 2008."

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