Survey: Web Video Watchers Favor News Clips and Shorter Ads

August 30, 2007   |  Comments

An Advertising.com poll also finds people are fine with in-video ads but wish they were shorter.

Many naturally assume the growth in online video consumption is driven by teens and twenty-somethings watching amateur content. According to a survey conducted by Advertising.com and InsightExpress, they're wrong.

Rather, streaming video fans are by and large over-35 news junkies who tolerate in-stream ads in short bursts.

Researchers polled a random sample of 500 Internet users on their video viewing patterns during the first two quarters of this year. Among the findings: Well over half of respondents, fully 62 percent, said they view streaming video online. And those active viewers are predominantly Gen X and older. Among consumers aged 18 to 34, only 31 percent of respondents said they view streaming content online, compared with 69 percent of the 35-plus crowd. Also, 95 percent said they typically stream video content from home, versus work (4 percent) or school (1 percent).

Respondents indicated acceptance of advertising but hostility to lengthy in-stream spots. While 94 percent of consumers prefer ads to subscription fees, 63 percent said shorter ads would make the experience more pleasurable. Twenty-two percent said more relevant ads would improve the ads, and 13 percent said commercials should be created exclusively for the Internet.

News was by far the most popular content type, having been sought out by 62 percent of respondents during the period covered by the survey. It was followed by movie trailers (38 percent) in a distant second place and music videos (36 percent) in third.

Music videos appear to have lost favor in the past year. Only 36 percent of people said they were likely to stream music video content during the first half of 2007, compared with 47 percent in the year-ago period. All other categories gained in popularity, including TV shows in fourth place with 33 percent of people watching, user-created videos in fifth place (29 percent) and movies in sixth (28 percent). Sports clips, viewed by 21 percent of respondents, brought up the rear.

Survey subjects interested in user-generated clips such as those popular on YouTube and MySpaceTV grew significantly, though less dramatically than widespread media coverage would lead you to believe. Respondents who watch amateur video represented a less than 10 percent increase over last year's 21 percent.

The survey did not quiz people on their feelings about alternative in-video ad formats such as watermarks, tethered display ads and the overlays pioneered by video ad network VideoEgg and more recently embraced by YouTube.

That may be due to the fact Advertising.com doesn't offer such formats itself, citing continuing demand from advertisers for in-stream formats. However, the company will consider overlays going forward, said Aleck Schleider, Advertising.com's senior director of marketing.

"We do see and feel that as video becomes more popular and more consumers are viewing it... different formats are going to be required," Schleider told ClickZ News. "We will change with the industry as it changes and as demand increases."

With regard to the interplay of TV and online video habits, the survey found online clip watching is cutting into TV time only moderately, and for men more than for women. Twenty-nine percent of men and 16 percent of women indicated streaming video has replaced the boob tube to some degree.

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