The title of this article refers to five key insights into digital video, but here’s a sixth for free: Everyone’s doing it.

Online video isn’t a side project for publishers, it’s the main event for many. For instance, 70 percent of The Sun’s online articles have a video embedded, according to Dominic Carter, chief commercial officer for News UK Commercial, in line with the huge increase in demand for mobile video they’re experiencing. 

No wonder; the average amount of time people will spend consuming online video each day is set to increase 19.8 percent in 2016, according to ZenithOptimedia’s Online Video Forecasts, and advertising ROI is still comparatively high compared to other forms of digital advertising.

So we’ve collated six key facts about online video consumption to see how audiences’ habits are changing – and what’s likely to change in the near future.

Video is mobile now

There are (of course) conflicting statistics about the proportion of video that is being consumed on mobile. However, there’s one consistent trend.

The Online Video Forecasts claim that just over half (52.7 percent) of all video will be consumed on mobile devices in 2016, while Ooyala’s latest Global Video Index demonstrated that 46 percent of all video plays in Q4 2015 were on mobile devices.

And Statista predictions demonstrate that the number of people in the US who are consuming video on mobile devices is set to increase still further in the US alone, let alone the emerging markets:


Image via Statista

Predictably, given the relative proportions of smartphone and tablet ownership, it’s smartphones that are seeing the greater amount of video viewing. Ooyala’s results show tablets only made up 14 percent of all views on mobile devices.

The Ericsson Mobility Report highlights how 50 percent of mobile data traffic currently comes from video, and Reuters predicts video will grow 14 times within five years and account for 70 percent of mobile network traffic.

Additionally, as the Innovation Enterprise notes, that’s dictated in large part by the changing nature of mobile devices:

“It is now far easier – not to mention a better experience – to watch television on a phone. Time on TV grew 56% for tablets, and 2.5 times this rate for smartphones.”

… but there’s greater parity between desktop and mobile video lengths

For the longest time the received wisdom was that mobile video lengths had to be short or ‘digestible’. As recently as September 2014 sites like Digiday were reporting that the average session time on Netflix for consumers on mobile devices was under ten minutes, which as the article notes is much shorter than the typical length of a piece of video content on the service.

But that statistic is rapidly shifting to favour longer videos, to the point that the average session time on mobile for YouTube content was 40 minutes by July of last year.

And Ooyala notes:

“For the second quarter in a row, 69% of all videos watched on smartphones were under 10 minutes long. On the flip side, that means that nearly one third of smartphone videos watched were longer than 10 minutes — Millennials are at it again.”

And many publishers and mobile carriers are responding. EE has just launched a new feature for its EE TV service that will allow customer to record programmes to their mobile devices:

“BT-owned EE, which first launched its TV offering in 2014, said the ‘Recordings To Go’ is designed to “set new standards” in how consumers access and watch TV and establishes EE TV the first UK TV service to allow remote viewing of “any and all” free programming.”

There’s more choice in platforms than ever before for advertisers

Video is a clear priority for a lot of social networks. Facebook’s new Canvas advertising product makes a big play of its ability to show video in the promotional package, no doubt due because it now sees over 100 million hours of daily video watch time.

Pinterest is now reportedly offering video ads, too, as Garett Sloane points out for Digiday:

““They would be wise to launch video ads, as video consumption trends continue to rise,” said Orli LeWinter, vp of strategy and social marketing at 360i. “That said, video behavior is not an organic one on Pinterest, so I’d be interested to see how they end up performing.””

And, perhaps in an attempt to make its video ads appear more native again, Instagram is now allowing users to post videos of up to 60 seconds in length, the same as advertisers.

… but there’s ever more choice for audiences too

The proliferation in platforms and means of monetisation has led to a vast range of choice for consumers. YouTube is still dominant (and with a definition of ‘view’ that actually makes sense), but Facebook and Snapchat are chipping away at that superiority.

And in the OTT world, there’s so much choice that any new entrants into the market are facing an uphill battle. Even this otherwise neutral coverage of Fullscreen’s launch into the space from the Wall Street Journal is headlined “Fullscreen enters crowded subscription video marketplace”:

“The subscription service, aimed at 13 to 30 year olds, will debut with 800 hours of content and charge $4.99 a month, about half the price of a Netflix subscription. It will not carry traditional advertising, although there will be some opportunities for marketers to pay to have their brands featured in some video content, the company said.”

And other players as diverse as the BBC, British Film Institute and Astro are launching paid-for subscription video services. That’s in addition to services like Vimeo and YouTube which allow individual content creators to monetise their own channels. It’s a crowded marketplace – and sooner or later you’ll run into a data-rich giant like Netflix:

“Lastly, a new Wired feature on Netflix’s use of big data (did you know that 90% of total anime streaming volume comes from outside of Japan?) illustrates, in impressive detail, how the online distributor is harnessing “a world’s worth of data” to create content with global appeal. And yet, the real appeal of Netflix’s individual shows is as hard to crack as an Apple iPhone—that is, before the FBI found a workaround. That’s because, unlike traditional networks, Netflix does not reveal ratings.”

Online video has created new audiences

Technology has long provided nucleation points around which entirely new audiences can form. Look at the growth of the drone racing industry for proof of that.

But new distribution methods have also created new audiences. While it might seem strange to some, video game streaming service reached 34.4 million global unique visitors over the past 30 days. Its CRO Jonathan Simpson-Bint told us:

“The average user is watching people play for 104 minutes a day. These are the people who’ve moved away from traditional broadcasters.” 

And by now we’re all familiar with the rise of the YouTube superstars, who are more influential and relevant to Millennial audiences than celebrities, many of whom have gone on to launch incursions into legacy media and online video spaces.

Online video then, is a potential goldmine for publishers looking for new revenue sources. But as other publishers flood that space, all looking to supplement their digital revenue, there are bound to be a few losers.