Making today’s hottest trend work for you : The benefits of online video

As of October 2006, more Americans watched Internet video than had televisions in their homes. 30 million people have logged onto Youtube and other video hosting sites to watch the trailer for Spider-Man 3, and over five million have watched the Miller Lite “catfight” commercial online. The online video phenomenon has gone beyond the concept of the next big thing to become the perfect expression of what consumers want right now. Why is that, and what does it mean for your business? (Check out this site for more statistics on the hottest online video clips.)

Consumers today have become accustomed to instant informational gratification, thanks to such technological innovations as cell phones, text messaging, Google, wi-fi, instant home page news updates, and even online library catalogs. Full-color, high-definition LED displays are becoming the norm everywhere, enabling businesses to not only state what they do but to show video footage to consumers passing by on the street. We don’t just like to be spoon-fed our information; we demand it.

Broadband Internet access has the greatest impact on Internet video of any technological innovation. According to a 2006 study by eMarketer, broadband Internet is the fastest growing segment of the Web, creating “an unprecedented consumer demand in Internet-distributed rich media.” Broadband users have been proven to spend more time online, do more things, and do them more often than their dial-up counterparts. Naturally, as American broadband saturation continues to increase, so, too, will the viewing of online video content. (Click here for more statistics on Internet usage and trends.)

Internet video is especially appealing to consumers because it channels information directly into the brain; the combination of motion, graphics, voice, music and still images makes video the ultimate sensory learning experience. Statistics have proven time and again that viewers will skim a web page’s written content but watch a video in its entirety. In addition, video works to counteract the sterile, impersonal environment of a web page. It creates a feeling of interacting and connecting that is traditionally absent in technical endeavors.

This is all very interesting, but does can online video really help you sell your product? In a word, yes. At Torque, we’ve noticed tremendous customer response to online videos that we’ve prepared for clients. Nationwide, online video has proven to be one of the greatest converters of customers; not only does video content continuously boast a higher rate of viewers than static PDFs, but these viewers are more likely to act on what they have seen. Even video that is not specifically sales-oriented will lead to higher closing rates, as it will capture the interest of viewers and entice them to spend time on your website learning more about your services. In fact, eMarketer released a report this week showing that of the 80% of viewers who had watched an online video ad as of June 6, 2007, over half had taken some action, ranging from talking to friends and family members about the product to actually making a purchase.

Online video is here to stay. In a society in which reading levels are dropping to make way for more graphic forms of information transfer, creating an online video ad or even a short informational clip is your passport to a consumer’s heart, mind, and wallet. As Erin Hunter, senior vice president of comScore Networks Media and Entertainment Solutions puts it, “People want more than a two-dimensional experience online…[Online video] creates a fantastic opportunity for advertisers to capitalize on what is now a mainstream audience.”