comScore compiled 2010 into a new report called The 2010 U.S. Digital Year in review. In the report, as you might guess, they take a look at the U.S. Digital Media Industry. How did the year fare? ComScore says it was a year of, “renewed optimism, continued innovation, and the increasing fragmentation.” I guess that means things went generally well in their eyes.

Online Video in 2010 – Comscore’s Year in Review

comScore states an average 179M Americans watched video per month. They say engagement rose in both time viewing and frequency. Here’s a quick look:

More than 88.6 million people watched online video on an average day in December 2010 (up 32 percent from December 2009), while viewing sessions totaled 5.8 billion for the month (up 13 percent). Americans also spent a significantly higher number of hours viewing online video in 2010 versus the prior year due to increased content consumption and more video ad streams. The average American spent more than 14 hours watching online video in December, a 12-percent increase from last year, and streamed a record 201 videos, an 8-percent increase.

TSSSSSSSS…BOOM! I think these graphs speak for themselves and so like NASCAR on FOX, I’m going to just let you listen to the roar of the online video engines (Daytona 500 February, 20th, 2011).

Right. We all know I can’t shut up for a whole lap at Daytona. But you’re really, really going to want to hear what I’ve got this time round. Ready?

In Q4 2010, Americans watched, 500 Million hours of online video. Quick, call Dr. Evil and have him cut a TV ad that has him saying that. Actually, it was far more than that.

That 500 Million hours was only Hulu (323 million hours) and ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW (probably not that much from CW) combined (162 million). In fact, the broadcasters only accounted for half as much time as Hulu did all on its own. Hey Mr. Kilar, while I hate that I can’t watch Hulu here in the Czech Republic, I have to say, well done sir! (Plus, I’m moving back to the States in spring, so keep it up.)

That’s like 57,000 years of video in just three months and doesn’t even include GooTube!

I suppose props are in order for the broadcasters who did grow some 82%. Perhaps they’re finally catching up to us, the Digital Viewing Demographic of America (there’s a joke in that name for some really clever people…)

I guess all that weather in Q4 really brought in the viewers, plus with all the time off for the holidays and all the Christmas shows (I’m Mr. Snow Miser!) it was bound to grow but that’s crazy good ain’ it? Sorry, it was that NASCAR reference that got me ta talkin’ like that.

The Video Advertising Segment

Now the very important part. Yes, online video watching is key and definitely important for many of us. But for many others, it’s all about the Benjamins. So here we come to the online video advertising section.

Video ads online now reach 70% of online Americans, or 50% of all Americans…eachmonth!

December 2010 say 5.9 Billion ads served, 40 per unique viewer, 0.4 minutes per ad.

According to comScore:

Tremor Media Video Network took the top spot among video ad networks in December, delivering 1.0 billion ads to reach 40.8 percent of online video viewers, an average of 12 ads per viewer. BrightRoll Video Network reached 31.8 percent of online viewers, while ADAP.TV reached fewer viewers (27.1 percent) but delivered a higher number of video ad streams (681.5 million).

Well done, all around. That’s certainly a lot of Benjamins that everyone is pocketing. Considering it was only 16 minutes of ads for about 14.5 hours of content, I quite like that.

And lastly, the percentage of video ads in relation to content, grew for the year. This, as an online video viewer, is a trend I would like to see halted at our earliest convenience.

It’s rapidly approaching 2.0% of content. At 2.0%:

  • You will see 1.2 minutes of ads every hour of online video content.
  • A half-hour show would actually only be 29.4 minutes and 0.6 minutes of ads.
  • At 14.5 hours (Dec 2010 avg monthly online viewing), that would be 17.4 minutes of ads in a month.

Compared to current, standard TV advertising from Wikipedia:

  • You will see 18 minutes of ads every hour on TV (for hour-long format shows) = 30%
  • A half-hour show is 22 minutes with six minutes of national advertising and two minutes of local. = 26%
  • 10 hours of viewing is approximately three hours of advertisements or 30% of your viewing time.

Now 2.0% is sort of low I guess. I might be willing to tolerate say 10%

At 10% we would see 6 minutes per hour or 87 minutes of videos per month online. That would give me just enough time to get to the kitchen and back a couple times. Of course the majority of those ads are 15 second versions and I would have to sprint or time warp (Let’s Do the Time Warp Again!) to manage it.

I’m sure some online viewers will be mad at me for saying we’d tolerate up to 10% but considering that would still be roughly 1/3 of the ad load of TV to get what I want, when I want it, where I want it? I would definitely tolerate it. Plus, it gives the industry room to breathe and grow. So breathe and grow my friends. Make awesome web content. Put your best shows (like Human Target, Castle, Detroit 1-8-7, Blue Bloods, Shameless, Californication, Dexter) online for us to watch whenever we want, wherever we want. Throw in those ads, I’ll deal with it (especially since Shameless, Dexter and Californication are on pay channels).

Other 2010 Digital Media Findings

Online Spending Up 9%

Need I say more? Last year saw a spike in spring spending that reached almost 18% in March. Might that have been the pre-sales of the iPad (launched April 3, 2010)? Regardless what it was, it certainly pulled the numbers up by their bootstraps because prior to that event, growth was in single digits. After that things went down to right around 9% again but then slowly climbed for the rest of the year culminating in $18.1 Billion in online spending for December and a total year worth $227.6 Billion.

Travel e-commerce spending grew 6 percent to $85.2 billion, while retail (nontravel)
e-commerce spending jumped 10 percent to $142.5 billion for the year.

While some of the holiday season growth can be attributed to consumers taking advantage of discounting and promotional activity online (most notably, free shipping), it is also a clear sign of improving consumer confidence.

comscore 2010 US online spending

What grew the most? Consumer electronics, which might make my question of the iPad launch a very legitimate one. CE was up 19% while computer hardware grew 17% and (yes!) Books and Magazines taking third with 16% growth says comScore.

Flash Sales Sites Drove Growth?

comScore cites one of the hottest trends of the year as being Flash Sales Sites, like GrouponLiving Social, Gilt, Haute Look and others.

Looking at this graph, is it any wonder Google tried to buy them?

After Groupon is Living Social: attracted 10.7 million unique visitors in December, up 712 percent versus year ago while LivingSocial jumped 438 percent to 5.7 million unique visitors.

The nearest after that seem to all have less than one million visitors per month, so yeah. Look for Living Social to probably get snatched up (supposedly they got $175M from Amazon). These guys are like taken to the next dimension (if you have no idea what I’m talking about…don’t worry).

U.S. Top Web Properties Time Share

Who or rather, what managed to eat the most time for US Internet users in 2010? One might easily guess Facebook, or even YouTube or Yahoo!. And, you wouldn’t be wrong. While Yahoo! led the first half of the year, it was outpaced by both Google and Facebook by year end.

I skipped a whole lot of information in the report which can be had from comScore. There’s also a whole mobile section in this one and a whole mobile report. So I will get to those soon enough.