The use of online video, social networking and mobile services has “exploded” in the past year, and Internet radio is a big contender to join this group in 2009, according to Arbitron Executive VP of Sales Pierre Bouvard, who was speaking at BIA’s Winning Media Strategies conference in Washington, D.C.
“Online video popped like the Internet popped in 1999,” said Bouvard, noting that it went from 18 percent usage to 27 percent, or 69 million. A second pop is the devotion that consumers have for their cellphones. And a third pop will be with Internet radio this year.
The latter will see usage by 17 percent of Americans, or 42 million. “They aren’t kids. They are 25 to 54 [years old] and 45 to 54 is the biggest age sell. “It looks like the big radio demographic,” said Bouvard. “These folks are more likely to be full-time employed, have upper income salaries and college degrees. The sweet spot is people at work,” which has become an extension of morning drive time. Bouvard added that people listen to Internet radio for variety and control, few commercials, and its clear signal.
Social networking is also taking off. “Kids were there last year, with over half of 12- to 24-year-olds using one of the services. But look [this year] at [ages] 55 to 64. It comes on like a freight train.” Still, Bouvard said it is important to keep in mind the high percentage of people who are not using social services. While Facebook has gone from 8 percent to 18 percent, “that means that 82 percent don’t use it,” he said.
One service that has had more mixed results is video on demand, which has only “moderate” use. Thirty-nine percent tried it once, 18 percent used it “last month, and 1 percent last week,” said Bouvard. It compares poorly with the dynamic interest and passion that consumers have for cellphone services, such as getting music, maps and video. These results led Bouvard to conclude that major distributors such as Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and Cox should focus more on mobile applications and less on interactive television services.