October 17, 2007
Babel: Understanding Online Video Trends Is a Messy Process

All right, class. Time for a review. This material may be covered on a future exam. Assuming you've been keeping up with what we've covered on the blog of late, what do we know about online video?

1.) People who are online like being online. Just ask IBM, who took a survey to find out that surprising bit of information.

2.) People are consuming less media Just ask Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

3.) People like online video. Just ask Nielsen.

4.) People like online TV viewing. Just ask TNS, as I wrote about earlier today.

5.) People DON'T like downloading video. Just ask Parks Associates.

6.) People like streaming video. The latest is insight from Advertising.com, which I will get to more in a moment.

The number of people doing surveys and studies to try and figure out this new terrain and how it will be monetized are interested in finding evidence to prove various things: what does spending time online mean for traditional media? What does this mean for advertisers? What new opportunities does this create? Often, we get studies that seem to prove what should be obvious, or else we get contradictory studies. People love streaming but hate downloading? People who are online like spending time online? A lot depends on which people, especially where you ask them, and what you are trying to extrapolate from that.

Trying to follow what's going on in this space, I often feel overcome by the deluge of studies telling me what's happening, especially when they often make me more confused about what's happening in the process. I am not trying to call out these studies, since I think this is an area that needs to be traced out, but there are just so many players involved and so many contradictory interests and so many purposes for each of these studies and methodologies involved that it feels like the Tower of Babel, except even worse, because we often aren't even aware of who else is working alongside us on trying to solve the questions.

I've been talking to a group lately that I'm in an advisory position with about how it seems that I find, every day, another group I should have been aware of, people who are asking questions very relevant to the projects we are looking at but who aren't on my radar. These studies give me a similar feeling: they are a reminder that the process of executing change on an industrial, systemic level is just messy. There's no way around it.

It makes me feel good that there are bright people working to solve these problems. But change just doesn't happen quickly enough, technologically, economically and geographically, or in terms of business strategy.

A quick note about the Advertising.com study. Survey responses indicated that 62 percent of those talked with are viewing video online, with most of them 35 and older viewing news clips. According to the survey, approximately 31 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds watch streaming video, compared to 69 percent of those 35 and older.

See more at The Center for Media Research.