Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Differences in Online Video and TV Users

If you still believe that the term "mass media" has relevance in marketing, and that television viewership decline is a meaningless anomaly, then the following details regarding the fragmentation of the consumer marketplace is likely of no interest to you. Otherwise, read on.

ComScore and Media Contacts showcased the results of a proprietary study of the online video audience at a Video Symposium in New York. The research was designed to understand the consumption habits and mindsets of Internet video users as they relate to online video, TV, and advertising and content across both media.

The results revealed consumer segmentation differences in orders of magnitude -- the heaviest viewers (top 20 percent of viewers) averaged 841 minutes of online viewing per month, while moderate viewers (next 30 percent) averaged 77 minutes, and the lightest viewers (bottom 50 percent) watched just 6 minutes each.

"The difference in consumption levels was astounding. The usage differences are reminiscent of the early days of the Internet," said Jarvis Mak, VP of Research and Insight at Media Contacts. "However, the networks online distribution of first-run content will go a long way to bridging the gaps between heavy, moderate, and light viewers."

No surprise, YouTube is the common thread among the heavy, moderate, and light segments -- it is the top video site for all three and reaches the most overall video viewers (54 percent reach). Distinctive behavior for heavy video viewers is found by looking at the top indexing sites for this audience, revealing mostly niche video-sharing sites, each reaching less than 1 percent of the total U.S. Web population.

By contrast, moderate viewers show a high propensity to view specific video content on broadcast TV sites, including WorldNow (ABC), CBS TV Local, ABC Daytime, Scripps TV, and CMT, rather than frequenting more general video-sharing sites.

The conventional wisdom (of the uninformed) says that the heaviest users of the digital channel are likely to be the heaviest consumers of media in general. However, the study found that light online video viewers are actually heavier TV consumers, with 46 percent of this group indicating they watch more than 13 hours of TV per week. By comparison, just 39 percent of moderate video viewers and 30 percent of heavy video viewers watched the same amount of TV.

"To discover how best to reach and message online different kinds of video viewers, we used the comScore data to further develop proprietary segments: Content Explorers, On Demanders, Sight & Sounders, and Television Devotees," Mak continued. "Capitalizing on the explosive growth of online video, especially as consumers have started exploring media and entertainment options due to the recent writers strike, requires a deep understanding of the viewing audience driving the demand."