How Many People Are Watching Online Video in 2012?

comScore reports that 181 million U.S. Internet users watched nearly 40 billion videos of online video content in January. YouTube ranks first with 152 million views, and the rest of the pack (Sony’s VEVO, Yahoo, Viacom, Facebook) attracted about 45 to 52 million viewers (about one third of the Google-owned leader).

Some interesting statistics from this month’s comScore report:
> 84.4 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
> The duration of the average online content video was 6.1 minutes, while the average online video ad was forty seconds.
> Video ads accounted for 12.2 percent of all videos viewed, but just 0.9 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.

YouTube viewers watched 18.6 billion videos in 2012’s first month, and that’s 4 per day per person (by my calculations, which haven’t been reviewed by Stalkerofnalts).

And how about ads? We viewed 5.6 billion video ads in January, with Hulu again leading with 1.4 billion ad views. The advertising networks (who stream ads on a variety of properties) ranked next, with Adap.tv at 652 million ad views, followed by BrightRoll Video Network with 598 million, Tremor Video with 580 million and Specific Media with 398 million.
Finally- YouTube channels? Warner and Vevo lead the pack, but Machinima and Maker Studios (aggregates of top YouTube channels) are third and fourth.

And here’s a photo of my niece and nephew.

Nephew and Niece of Nalts

How Many Views Do You Need to Be Viral?

A few years ago, a video could be considered “viral” if it hit a million views. Now I’d like to propose a more stringent definition, and tell you that President Obama meets the criteria.

A video, I submit, is “viral” if it gets more than 5 million views in a 3-7 day period. So Obama getting more than 6 million views in a week is indeed viral. You are correct, Michael Memoli. However many of your peers talk about videos going viral without really considering the competition… many top YouTubers get more videos in a day than what media considers a viral sensation.

One caveat, however. Part of what makes a video “viral” is not just the views but the degree of discussion online and offline (media). Here we get into a “chicken and the egg” issue, since the video’s viral nature may prompt “coverage,” which inspires even more views (although less than you’d think). Most views are driven by online activity not television or print coverage.

 

America’s Funniest Videos Versus YouTube

  • Why has America’s Funniest Videos (AFV) not died in 20 years even despite the age of “instant gratification via YouTube”?
  • How does AFV manage the logistics of culling through massive amounts of user-generated clips?
  • How many clips does AFV producer Vin Di Bona own?
  • Why has no other show or format “cracked the code” of televising web clips until, perhaps, Tosh 2.0?

Wired Magazine solved many of these age-old nagging questions in “Painfully Funny: Why America’s Funniest Home Videos Won’t Die” a recent issue by Brian Raftery. Note Raftery’s choice of “won’t” versus “hasn’t” or “can’t.”

Some quick AFV-facts (below) were fascinating news to me, and I’ve watched the show since 1989 with the love-hate relationship you perhaps share. Sure, I dig the poodle in a congo line and giggling quadruplet babies, but my spoof (now at 12 million views) tells you how I see the show. All that’s missing is Sagat’s painful impersonations — the chalkboard scratch of the 1990s.

Fun Facts:

  • Di Bona is like the porn king of user-generated videos, and is sitting on an exclusive library of 104,000 plus digitized clips, all carefully tagged with words like “cat (4K plus), parrot, baby, snot (265), itchy, zipline, sea turtles and lick.
Bergeron is gold. But someone may want to update this photo. When's the last time you held a VHS tape or burned a DVD?
  • Why, despite Sagat’s horrible humor, sound effects and voiceovers, did the show survive? Because in the 90s it was impossible to share clips and nobody was culling them. Luckily Tom Bergeron and a smart writing/editing staff have fine-tuned the model. Bergeron is like Ryan Seacrest. Each sound, facial expression and body movement exudes confidence, is inflected with precision, and yet is approachable. I watch them like you may watch professional ice skaters (I tend to prefer the latter only when they spill).
  • Did you miss a key word of my first bullet? Exclusive rights, which is extremely rare in today’s digital economy. That’s why David DeVore, a Florida real-estate agent, made a smart decision to turn down “exclusive,” in a move that’s given him far more than even AFV’s top $100,000 prize (and since the clip involves a minor under the influence of a drug, it might well have never left AFV’s faults, points out Raftery’s Wired piece). I just found DeVore’s note to me: in the weeks after “David After Dentist” exploded: “Do you have any advice on what to pursue? Maybe its nothing, I dont know. Is youtube partners a good option? Are there other things to look into?” I rushed to bring this to YouTube’s attention, although it certainly would have happened without me. It takes a lot of home commissions to reach what he’s earned from that clip in advertising-revenue sharing, and he owns it… not Di Bona.
  • The show’s secret formula is that it stayed away from video “stories” (beginning, middle and end) in lieu of micro clips that have global appeal… I’d see FailBlog as today’s version, yet many of its clips are ripped and certainly not capable of monetization. I sent my 1980s videos to Di Bona when I saw a “call for entries” that preceded the original broadcast (I can’t remember signing a release, but I’m sure I’d have signed away my life at that time). I was tickled to see some of my videos on the early promotions of the show, although I don’t believe they’ve ever been in the show. For two decades people have asked me why I don’t send videos to AFV, and I now have two simple answers: my videos aren’t AFV gold (with a few exceptions like Charlie and the Santa claus) and I don’t like exclusivity. No AFV grand prize could offset what YouTube’s done for me.
  • Charlie and Santa, having surpassed ever slightly the “50K views or lower” AFV requirement, would not make it eligible for AFV. They’re smartly avoiding online memes and popular clips. That’s a distinct advantage over shows that recycle clips most of us have already beat to death. To be considered for AFV, of course, I’d have to take down the video and cede any upside that might come otherwise (the clip has been on television but no exclusivity was required).
  • The AFV videos are recycled less often than you’d think. In periods Di Bona received 1,000 videos a day, sometimes barely any, and other times 2,000 per week. If he relaxes his exclusivity clause and invites easy web submissions he’ll get far more entries even if worse in aggregate (that would lower the bar for home-video creators, making it less effort to submit, and perhaps overwhelm his staff reviewing loads of nonsense). Relaxing the exclusivity requirement would also change the business model since by air time we might already be sick of the Sneezing Panda.
  • The most interesting fact about the Wired article? No mention of Cute, Win, Fail... which I think is a brilliant adaptation of AFV for YouTube… with potentially a higher potential revenue source long term.

Bottom line: should people submit to AFV or YouTube? That depends on the power of your clip, and whether you think you’re a “one-hit wonder” or someone who wants to make this your passion. Most likely your clip isn’t going to go “David After Dentist,” but get lost in a sea of sameness. But I’d certainly test it on YouTube, and see how quick it gets views. If it caps at a few thousand and doesn’t appear to be moving, odds are it won’t (though it’s possible). Then you’ve got higher upside on AFV, although you may never see it on television or make a dime. For me, the odds of winning the coveted $100K prize just seem too low… and my videos are usually pranks or mini-stories, so they’re not an AFV fit. So when I hear the word “exclusive,” I hear “if this thing starts making loads of money, you won’t see a dime.”

2011 Prediction 6-9 Trillion Display Ads Seen by 45 People

comScore today announced that in the third quarter of this year (3Q 2010) about 1.3 trillion Internet display advertisements were served to people in the U.S. (a 22% growth from the same period in 2009).

We were too lazy to register to download the report, but not so lazy as to avoid making “wild, unfounded generalizations and predications” based only on that one piece of data…

  • In 2011 6-9 trillion display ads will be seen, with a 32% growth in online-video ads.
  • More than 95% of the ads will never be seen by human eyes
  • Of the 5% of ads that are actually seen in the U.S., 54.7% of those won’t be in the U.S.
  • Just 45 people will see the ads: a staggering 95% of some previous subsegment of the 6-9 trillion ads served.
  • 76.4% of the remaining ads will be seen by high-school kids ages 12-18 who impact .04% of the gross domestic product.

Now here’s what the report will really offer, with italics in my words.

  • The story behind Facebook’s staggering growth (everything edited out of Social Networking: the movie).
  • New strategies and innovative ad sizes offered by publisher (words like “target” and “accountable” and “ROI” will be included, and some sample ad formats will show how to be advertisers can ride publishers like a drunk Texas cowboy on a wounded Mexican steer).
  • Category-level trends and insights (both industries covered: financial, travel AND consumer-packaged goods).
  • Advertising success stories of mid-sized and niche publishers (including data that’s so powerful it’s almost as real as the 3D Yogi Bear… but less interesting).
  • Tools to generate more sales leads and evaluate competition (tricks like “put together a white paper, demand registration, then call the person 5 times in the next consecutive 11 days”).

Oh I’m just teasing comScore. But about the lower-case C…

Teleporting Fat Guy Returns

How many views does it take for a video to be defined as going “viral”? It’s not 1 million, and it’s not 2 million… read on.

I’m a big fan of Smosh’s Teleporting Fat Guy (see original video seen more than 4 million times). So I was thrilled to see the adorable chubby guy return in the recent episode below.

By the way, I was chatting with Mark Douglas (KeyofAwesome) last week at the Next New Networks office…Oh sorry, did I name drop? While in NYC I also saw iJustine, MysteryGuitarMan, ShaneDawson, ShayCarl and CharlesTrippy (see video proof).

Anyway, Mark and I were discussing what “viral” means anymore, and the number 4 million seems about right. Only a few videos hit that number in the month they’re posted. So let’s go with 4 million as 2010 viral, but that means 4 million views right away- not cumulatively over months or years.

I need to clarify again that my book proclaims “viral is dead” for commercial videos, I do not contend that viral video will ever end. Ever. As long as we humans like to experience something together at the same time, we’ll have viral hits. It’s just that they’ll rarely be advertising videos… and I don’t like to see brands cede their online-video marketing strategy and tactics to “going viral” due to these low odds.

So here’s the teleporting fat guy appearing again, featuring Smosh’s Ian and Anthony traveling forward and back in time, and meeting their future selves. You gotta love Smosh for persisting and persisting with their comedic duo even when their managers sometimes sell ’em out too much. Smosh could pimp Amway and I’d still love ’em.

Wait- was this post about Smosh or about how many views it takes to make a video meet the definition of “viral”? Oh who cares. Just watch the face of Teleporting Fat Guy when he hears about the sponge bath. Hey did I include Smosh in my book? I can’t remember.

More Video Views Than People Living in Top 20 US Cities?

When I think about uploading a video to YouTube, I envision five audiences:

  1. The people I know in online video- fellow creators and members of the online-video community.
  2. Permanent record: is the video going to be a tattoo I might regret? Will it cause my kids or family any embarrassment that I haven’t already inflicted?
  3. The folks I know from “meat space” (not virtual). Friends, family, neighbors. Most don’t watch.
  4. My professional colleagues (most who don’t watch).
  5. The rest of the people on planet Earth who might stumble into a video by accident.

So this morning (while in the midst of crunching numbers for our annual Marketing Plan) I’m thinking about how 500,000 views for a recent “scary maze” and why a Pesto recipe video (5,000 or so views) got 100 times fewer views. I’m thinking 5,000 is kinda lame, and maybe I should stay away from recipes. But then I realize that 5,000 is actually a lot of people.

What would it feel like if 5,000 people showed up in my front yard one day to see me?

So’s then I become curious about physical metaphors for the total number of times my videos have been viewed across the globe… somewhere between 30 and 40 million (hard to count beyond YouTube and a lot of my stuff is ripped). These numbers don’t include television audiences when my clip appears- these are straight, measured online views.

Even 35 million is about 1/3 of the total people that watched the last episode for M*A*S*H or the latest Superbowl (which, of course, is far from comaring apples to apples).

Then I run a list of the population for the top 20 US cities. According to Wickipedia, there are about 32 million people in the top cities. Some of my videos are presumably viewed by multiple people at a once, and more are maybe viewed  by the same people more than once. I would imagine there’s a high “abandonment” rate in the first 30 seconds, so although 3O million views at an average 2.3 minutes sounds like I wasted maybe 150 days of cumulative human lives, it’s probably far less.

And here’s the irony. I walk around with my Nalts hat all the time, and outside my own community, I’ve been recognized exactly one time… 2 weeks ago at the LA airport by three young girls. I was speaking with Charles Trippy on my cell, and told him I had to hang up because fans were waiting.

I’m glad I can’t see everyone’s eyes. I used to get stage fright standing in front of an autitorium of 400 people. The thought of the New Orleans Superbowl filled 400 times over is a little daunting.

So even if you have a few hundred views, think of it in physical terms. It’s kinda surreal.