Directories Lead the Way for Early Adopters

Nov 30, 2008  •  Post A Comment

What’s the next big thing in online video? Niche video sites that offer editorial guidance on what to watch.
The same online early adopters who visited YouTube, Digg and Facebook long before those sites rocketed to mainstream popularity now are hanging out on video directory sites and instructional video aggregators, according to data from online-audience measurement firm Hitwise.
Hitwise found that as Web users become overwhelmed by the volume of videos online, they are turning to targeted Web sites for help, including how-to video guides such as WonderHowto.com and 5min.com, video discovery service video.stumble.com and mobile video upload service Qik.com.
Those services appear poised to break out because the online activity patterns of early adopters often serve as a barometer for what’s next, said Bill Tancer, global head of research at Hitwise and author of the book “Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters.” “This demonstrates there is a need in the marketplace, and it might be the next hot area to find ways to surface video content other than search,” he said.
In anonymously tracking the activities of online users and analyzing the Internet behavior of early adopters for the four-week period ending Nov. 8, Hitwise found that the online cognoscenti who drove the early usage of YouTube, Digg, Facebook, Flickr and Delicious.com are increasingly seeking guidance on what to watch.
“Rather than search or relying on most popular or featured selection on YouTube, they are investigating these vertical-specific sites,” said Mr. Tancer. “This group is telling us we have gotten to the point where there is so much video out there we need some assistance to tell us what to watch and the featured page on YouTube isn’t enough.”
YouTube says it offers more detailed discovery options than the featured page. “We are seeing that users are finding compelling content through a more thoughtful discovery process,” said a YouTube representative. “In addition to recommendations, related videos, active sharing and subscriptions—all of which are very popular discovery features—we are focused on improving discoverability for new video content.”
Despite these options, the massive number of videos on the Web today can pose challenges in tracking down a clip, said Ran Harnevo, CEO of 5min.com. “Think about all the spam videos that come up when you search for Sarah Palin and Tina Fey, because people created so many videos and it’s hard to find the original one you want,” he said. “This is the chance for niche content to rise up, but it can also be in niche areas like gardening or fashion.”
Online video is starting to splinter into defined niches, just as traditional media has already fragmented, said Stephen Chao, CEO of WonderHowTo.com and a former Fox executive. The site is on target to reach 2.2 million unique visitors this month with instructional videos in 36 categories and more than 400 subcategories, he said.
“From a user perspective, you can only get so far in term of search for how-to videos on other sites. This was designed to let you dig in.”


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