Why Online Video Will Keep Growing Like A Weed
By Chris Crum

Research Says Viewing Already Up 49%

As you probably know, online video has become quite a hot medium, and the rate at which people view it continues to increase. This is not surprising considering the year we had last year in online video. This year certainly started off with a boom as well as a famous super bowl ad truly introduced the world to Hulu.

Recent research from Nielsen shows that in May, unique visitors, total streams, streams per viewer, and time per viewer were all up compared to the same month in 2008. There was a 49% increase in time per viewer.

According to Nielsen, YouTube was way on top in video streams (with over 6 billion during the month) and unique viewers (95 million). Behind YouTube were Hulu, Yahoo, Fox Interactive Media, and ABC.com.

That was the past. What about the Future?

Cisco recently shared some interesting predictions (via Ben Worthen at the WSJ) of its own looking at the future of online video. Stats from this research include:

- Internet traffic will increase fivefold over the next five years, driven in large part by a jump in the amount of video transmitted

- Over 90% of traffic will come from video (including TV, video on demand, or file sharing)

- Video chat will increase tenfold between 2008 and 2013

- the amount of data flowing to mobile devices will double each year, increasing 66 times by 2013, with video being the fastest growing category.

Another reason why online video will likely continue to grow in a big way is that HTML 5 is continuing its path toward wide acceptance. Ryan Paul at Ars Technica has a fascinating piece on what this will mean for online video and rich media.

"A growing number of prominent companies that deliver content and services on the Web are putting their weight behind HTML 5 and touting it as the way forward for building interactive Web applications and deploying rich media in the browser," he says. "Video is one of the most significant areas where this trend will have a major impact. "

"For content providers like YouTube and DailyMotion, the HTML 5 video element offers numerous advantages," he explains. "It integrates seamlessly with conventional HTML content and can be manipulated with JavaScript and CSS. This enables Web developers to build video player interfaces that are more consistent with the rest of their website. The ability to control playback with JavaScript allows video to be a more native part of the user experience in interactive Web applications."

There's no doubt that there are big things on the horizon for online video as a medium. Just how quickly it has grown thus far may be a little overstated though. Christophor Rick of video marketing firm ReelSEO talks about a study from Trendstream that calls online video the fastest-growing media platform in the history of media. That might be going a little overboard.

"Now they say that online video has only been around for three years (or maybe Mediapost said that) but I beg to differ," says Rick. "Online video was pioneered by the pornography industry way before YouTube showed up (which was 2005). Sure, many might not want to admit it but honestly, porn drove internet technology innovation for a long time. So that means the numbers seem to be slightly skewed"

"The heart of the matter is this – online video is rapidly expanding," he says. "Since its initial inception maybe a decade or more ago it has obviously become the media du jour online....So is video the wave of the future for online entertainment? Well, isn’t it the current wave we’re all riding already? Will that stop? No, probably not. Will it grow? Yes, without a doubt. Will more people upload, watch, share, create, comment on, Twitter, or otherwise talk about online video? Absolutely"

I think Rick's conclusion is the main take away from all of this. You can probably fit online video into your budget whether you realize it or not. You can use video to improve your ranking and conversions, and as long as YouTube is top dog in the industry (not to mention the 2nd largest search engine), there are plenty of ways to use it to help your online business.