Title: 125.5 Million Americans Watched 10.3 Billion YouTube Videos in September

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Normally, announcements made on a Friday afternoon are bad news. But yesterday at 4:21 p.m., comScore Video Metrix announced that more than 168 million U.S. Internet users watched nearly 26 billion videos online during September 2009 — an average of 154 videos per viewer. That’s good news, isn’t it?

To put this in perspective, Super Bowl XLIII achieved the largest television audience in U.S. history with a total audience of 151.6 million viewers, according to official national ratings data released by Nielsen Media Research.

In other words, more Americans are watching online video each and every month than watch the Super Bowl once a year. Get it? Got it? Good.

logo_halloween-vfl129017.png YouTube accounted for close to 40 percent of the 26 billiion videos viewed during September, to remain the market leader by a wide margin.

According to comScore,
— 84.8 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video in September.
— The average online video viewer watched 9.8 hours of video that month.
— The duration of the average online video was 3.8 minutes.
— 125.5 million viewers watched nearly 10.3 billion videos on YouTube.com — which is 82.4 videos per viewer.
— 45.6 million viewers watched 424 million videos on MySpace.com — which is 9.3 videos per viewer.

Now, let’s compare these numbers to ones that search marketers should know by heart.

According to comScore qSearch, Americans conducted 13.8 billion core searches in September 2009. They watched nearly 26 billion videos online that month. This means Americans are watching almost twice as many videos as they conducting searches at the five major search engines.

So, is your video marketing budget twice as large as your search marketing budget? Hmmm. Maybe that’s why the news was buried on a Friday afternoon.

Let’s drill down a little deeper.

There were almost 9 billion core searches conducted on Google in September. There were 10.3 billion videos viewed on YouTube that month. That’s right, Americans are watching more videos on YouTube than then are conducting searches on Google.

But wait! There’s more!

According to comScore qSearch, there were 21.3 billion expanded search queries conducted in September. This counts searches for mapping, local directory, and user-generated video sites as well as searches at the major search engines.

Who were the leaders in expanded search?

Google was #1 with 9.4 billion expanded search queries.
YouTube was #2 with 3.5 billion.
Yahoo! as #3 with 2.7 billion.
Bing was #4 with 1.2 billion.

So, even if you put blinders on and say you are only interested in “search” and not interested in “marketing,” then YouTube belongs on your A-list. It is the #2 search engine.

If you want to see what other marketers are doing on YouTube, check out Coldwell Banker’s channel. And for the backstory, check out my interview with Michael Fisher, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Coldwell Banker, at SES San Jose 2009.

Michael Fisher of Coldwell Banker discusses Coldwell Banker’s successful viral marketing campaigns

And there are advertising opportunities on YouTube, as well. For example, check out my interview with Matthew Liu, YouTube Product Manager, at SES New York 2009. He talks about Sponsored Videos, which has since been renamed Promoted Videos.

YouTube Product Manager, Matthew Liu on YouTube’s Insight and Sponsored videos at SES NY 2009

Now, many search marketers measure the success of their campaigns in terms of conversions. In these cases, it’s not just about views or clicks; it’s about what the user did next: Buy something, fill out a form on your website, or take some other action.

These marketers want to be able to incorporate these kinds of conversions into their campaigns so they can “close the loop” and drive traffic to off-YouTube web pages. Back in June, YouTube launched this feature as an option for all Promoted Videos, allowing anyone who runs a campaign to specify a “Call-to-Action” for users, helping them generate engaged, well-targeted traffic for their websites.

Adding a Call-to-Action overlay to your video is easy. First, run a campaign to promote your video on YouTube. Then, go to the Video Details page under My Videos and fill out the fields in the section marked “Call-to-Action overlay.” All you have to do is include a short headline, ad text, a destination url, and upload an optional image, and the overlay will appear whenever someone watches your video. Clicks on the overlay will be tracked in YouTube Insight.

Get it? Got it? Good.

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