Visitors Watch Youtube Site

YouTube is a site where you can watch just about any type of video imaginable. There are videos of cute kittens, indie rock bands, stand-up comedy routines, stupid human tricks, vintage television commercials, high school musicals, film school projects, home movies, breaking news clips, personal video blogs—you name it. Users have uploaded literally millions of clips, and anyone can watch them in his or her web browser at no cost.

Most of the videos on YouTube are amateurish, produced by nonprofessionals with simple webcams or consumer camcorders—and that’s okay; it’s personal, but stuff that people like to watch. But there is an increasing number of more professional clips, many designed to service or promote a particular product or business.

That’s right: Businesses small and large have discovered YouTube. In fact, YouTube is the hottest new medium for online marketing; if your business has an online component, you could, and should, be promoting it via YouTube videos.

A Short History of YouTube

If you’ve never visited the YouTube website (watch in Figure 1), you’ve missed out on the hottest thing on the Internet today. It’s hard to believe that YouTube is barely five years old; what did we do online before there were YouTube videos to watch?

Figure 1 The YouTube site—home base web for all your online video marketing.
Figure 1 The YouTube site—home base web for all your online video marketing.

YouTube: The Early Days

YouTube was the brainchild of three former PayPal employees: Chad Hurley, Steven Chen, and Jawed Karim. The three founders had left their former company and were looking for a new business opportunity. After exploring a few less interesting ideas, they eventually realized there was a real need for a service that facilitated the process of uploading, watching, and sharing videos. Hence the development of YouTube.

The trio registered the domain name on February 15, 2005 and then started developing the technology for the site—in Hurley’s garage. Chen, the programmer of the bunch, worked with Adobe’s Flash development language to stream video clips inside a web browser. Hurley, a user interface expert, adopted the concept of tags to let users identify and share the videos they liked. Together they came up with a way to let users paste video clips onto their own web pages, which expanded the reach of the site.

The development work done, a public beta test version of the site went live in May 2005. After a few months of working the kinks out of the site, the three men officially launched YouTube in December 2005.

YouTube Launches—and Gets Acquired

YouTube proved immensely popular from virtually the first day in business. Site traffic that first month was three million visitors, which is pretty good for a startup. The number of visitors tripled by the third month (February), tripled again by July (to 30 million visitors), and reached 38 million visitors by the end of the site’s first year in business. That made YouTube one of the top 10 sites on the Web, period—and one of the fastest growing websites in history.

That kind of growth didn’t go unnoticed, especially by competing websites. The biggest of the competing sites, Google, set out to buy the company, and did so in October 2006. Google paid $1.65 billion for YouTube—an incredible sum for such a young company, and one that had yet to generate significant revenues.

This put YouTube smack in the middle of the mighty Google empire. That said, YouTube continues to operate independently of the mother ship; the site looks and acts pretty much the same today as it did in the pre-Google days. The only big difference is volume.

YouTube Today

The number of videos and user on the site continues to grow, which is great for businesses looking to take advantage of the opportunity. In fact, the growth has been nothing short of stratospheric; traffic to the site has doubled in just the past two years. (Figure 2 shows this growth, graphically.)

Figure 2 YouTube visitors per month—tremendous growth through the years.
Figure 2 YouTube visitors per month—tremendous growth through the years.

How big is YouTube today? According to the market research firm comScore, YouTube is the number-three site on all the Web, with more than 146 million visitors per month (as of August 2010). And those visitors are watching a lot of videos—more than two billion videos a day, representing more than 40% of all videos watched online.

Who Watches YouTube—and What Do They Watch?

Not surprisingly, it appears that YouTube is replacing traditional television viewing for many users. According to Google, an average YouTube viewer spends 164 minutes online every day; in contrast, viewers spend just 130 minutes per day watching traditional television. Where would you rather put your marketing message?

YouTube’s viewers come from all ages and demographic groups. Figure 3 details the age distribution of YouTube’s user base; the attractive 18–44 demographic represents 56% of YouTube’s viewers. In terms of gender distribution, it’s a fairly even 55% male/45% female split.

Figure 3 The age distribution of YouTube’s viewer base.
Figure 3 The age distribution of YouTube’s viewer base.

These viewers are active viewers. Yes, most people still watch YouTube on their computers, but that’s changing. More and more users watch YouTube on their mobile phones while they’re on the go; the YouTube app is one of the most popular applications for the iPhone. And an increasing number of people are watching YouTube in their living rooms, as an increasing number of flat screen TVs and Bluray players come with Internet connectivity—and a YouTube widget—built in. 

What are these people watching? Lots and lots of different videos, that’s what. Sysomos recently analyzed YouTube usage by category, and came up with the numbers shown in Figure 1.4. Music is the big category, at 31% of all videos viewedbut after that it breaks down a lot more evenly.

Figure 1.4 What people watch on YouTube, by category.
Figure 1.4 What people watch on YouTube, by category.