Marketers looking to take advantage of video-sharing website YouTube for advertising purposes might be interested to read that the user demographic for the website has seen significant shifts in recent times.

Research carried out by Dr Jean Burgess of the Queensland University of Technology’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation and Dr Joshua Green of MIT’s Convergence Culture Consortium has suggested that an increasing number of YouTube users are adult bloggers making use of professional production teams.

This is contrary to the popular perception of teenagers and children being the main users of the website, the experts said.

The study involved the analysis of 4,300 of the most popular clips on the website during the latter half 2007, as well as the comparison of user-generated and traditional media content.

Dr Burgess noted that observers can best understand YouTube as serving two main purposes – firstly as a cheap way of distributing commercial content and secondly as an arena for amateur videomakers to showcase their work.

While both of these uses of the website are still popular, commercial distributors in particular are looking to innovative new ways of making their content seen, she explained, going on to give the example of the HotforWords videos, which see a scantily-clad female explaining the etymology of words.

Viewers of the clips can post their own videos showing themselves asking a question, helping to drive traffic to the HotforWords site, Dr Burgess said.

In related news, new figures from comScore have revealed that UK web users watched 3.5 billion videos during the month of March, with Google sites – including YouTube – accounting for 48 per cent of these views.

The research also showed that UK users watch the highest number of clips each on average compared with other comScore Video Metrix nations like the US and France, with Britons viewing an average of 127.7 videos each.

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