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Online video began as a short form medium, but as creators and audiences become more comfortable with longer videos online, advertising dollars will surely follow suit.
Sites like Hulu and YouTube have been focused on branding partnerships for professional video content online. And consumers are proving that they have the attention span for longer content.
Production companies are now creating longer and longer videos for the online space and viewers are sticking around to watch. According to The New York Times:
"Video creators, by and large, thought their audiences were impatient. A three-minute-long comedy skit? Shrink it to 90 seconds. Slow Internet connections made for tedious viewing, and there were few ads to cover high delivery costs. And so it became the first commandment of online video: Keep it short.
New Web habits, aided by the screen-filling video that faster Internet access allows, are now debunking the rule. As the Internet becomes a jukebox for every imaginable type of video — from baby videos to “Masterpiece Theater” — producers and advertisers are discovering that users will watch for more than two minutes at a time."
Longer formats provide more room for advertisers and if audiences dedicated to specific videos migrate online, that opens up huge possibilities for growing revenue.
Currently, 99% of all video viewing is still happening in front of television sets. And while online video advertising is still just a drop in the bucket of the $70 billion video ad market, it can't be expected to perform much better when only 1% of viewers are watching their video online.
Online video is expected to become a $1 billion business by 2011, and $2-7 billion by 2012. But the entire video ad market is around $70 billion.
Sites like blip.tv are trying to entice viewers online. The Times points out that video viewing lengths on blip have greatly expanded in the past year. The most popular videos on the site a year ago were under five minutes long, while the average video length on the site is now 14 minutes.
Of course, the increase in video length is mostly due to television networks streaming their content on sites like Hulu and their own branded channels elsewhere. But if longer user generated videos start drawing audiences, ad dollars will follow.
The key is changing video viewing habits. Larger bandwidths and more reliable video capabilities have been instrumental in getting people to watch online.
According to Dina Kaplan, co-founder of blip.tv: “People are getting more comfortable, for better or for worse, bringing a computer to bed with them."