Web Video Audience Differs Widely by Demo

NEW YORK The characteristics and attitudes of the online video audience differ widely based on each individual user’s experience and comfort with the still-evolving medium, finds a new research study conducted by comScore and Havas-owned digital agency Media Contacts.

During a keynote address delivered on Wednesday in New York, Jarvis Mak, Media Contacts’ vp, U.S. director of research and insights, said the most active segment of Internet users still accounts for the vast majority of video streaming on the Web — and that group often demonstrates a stubborn aversion to TV and advertising. But several more attractive segments are emerging as online video becomes more mainstream, says the study.

For example, in a given month, a typical heavy video user might watch close to 250 videos online, where a light user might watch just eight clips. But that sort of disparity is likely to change over time, according to Mak, who noted that a similar gap existed in the early days of the Internet between light and heavy Web surfers. That trend indicates that online video behaviors have yet to normalize. “It’s abundantly clear how nascent we are in the industry,” he said. “There is a long way to go.”

In the meantime, the agency, in conjunction with comScore, has identified four key segments of the online video audience that should help marketers better plan media and target creative. The four groups include:

— On Demanders: This group is 30 percent more likely to be heavy video users. This predominantly 18- to 34-year-old group gravitates to DVRs and video on demand, and 89 percent said they are inclined to pay for content to avoid ads.

— Sight and Sounders: These folks fall in the 55 and over demographic, and are mostly unimpressed with video content and video ads. Nearly half have been watching online video for less than a year, and most prefer TV.

— Television Devotees: This female-skewing segment frequently uses the Web to catch up on TV, and are fans of the broadcast and cable networks’ Web offerings. They claim to be OK with online video ads.

— Content Explorers: They are platform agnostic, and will watch pretty much anything on the Web — from long-form drama to short, user-generated clips. Perhaps surprisingly, this group falls into the 35-54, higher income category.

Mak said that besides impacting advertisers, he believes it’s important for programmers to consider these different groups as they post and package more Web video content because it is apparent that no single delivery format or ad format will suit the entire Web audience.

Of course, given the medium’s nascency, it’s possible that these segments represent a particular moment in time, and that Web video users could jump from group to group as their experience with the medium grows. “That’s one thing we don’t know,” said Mak.