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ComScore recently released its March Video Metrix rankings showing the phenomenal growth and acceptance of video content on the Web. According to the release:

  • Five out of every seven U.S. Internet users (71.4 percent) streamed video online.
  • Three out of every 10 (30.1 percent) U.S. Internet users streamed video on YouTube.
  • The average online video viewer consumed 55 video streams, or nearly two per day, during the month.
  • Online viewers watched an average of 145 minutes of online video in March 2007.

Online video is becoming more of a regular part of the online experience with many Americans, and arguably online users around the globe. The comScore data indicate there were 126.6 million unique video “streamers,” which is an incredible number. To put it in context, according to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, there are approximately 65.6 million basic cable subscribers and 111.6 million TV households, making the online video viewer audience larger than both categories. It is also important to keep in mind that this audience continues to grow each month as broadband penetration and faster computers enter the home. In Europe, while broadband penetration is high, Jupiter Research reports that only 11 percent of Europeans watch online video regularly. TKG’s recent User View (Wave IV) study shows online video advertising has impressive pull and response rate. All this research suggests a growing and potentially lucrative market exists.

The Yellow Pages industry is only recently waking up to the potential of combining directory advertising with online video. Companies like Canpages in Canada and Seat in Italy are leading the way among directory publishers, while vertical players such as Citysearch and Cox’s Kudzu are examples of early movers into the video space. Other players such as, DexOnline and Comcast are also currently testing and developing their own video offerings in an effort to catch up and take advantage of the large online video viewing audience. The question remains, can Yellow Pages publishers quickly develop platforms and offerings that make sense to local SMEs so they can leverage their local sales force advantage to win in the local marketplace? Local online video outside of user-generated video is where this industry has the potential to grow, particularly if it is tied to local search.

Making video IYP possible and growing it into a viable revenue stream will ultimately come down to how the videos get produced and the price point at which production can be done. Early entrants such as TurnHere and Spot Runner have become valuable partners for producing inexpensive video spots. So if YP companies can build the right platform and create online video affordably, will SMEs buy? In the local space, YP, newspaper, cable and TV companies are investing significant time and money betting on who will win the local video race. If YP companies can be first or early to market with a sensible platform and pricing plan, and get their massive local sales machine going, then my bet is on YP winning this race.

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