Social Networking, Online Video Are Top Digital Trends - InformationWeek

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Social Networking, Online Video Are Top Digital Trends

In the U.S. market and others where homes are saturated with televisions and DVD players, video content is a predominant part of consumers' daily lives, analysts said.

Online video and social networking are outpacing other digital media behaviors, according to a study released Thursday.

Ipsos Insight released some findings of its annual study "The Face of the Web 2006." The survey, conducted in November and December 2006 among a random sample of 6,553 adults around the world, found that online video activities have replaced music as the driver of digital media's growth.

Thirty-six percent of U.S. Internet users watched a TV show or other video streaming online at the end of 2006, up from 28% at the end of 2005, and three-quarters had done so in the 30 days before polling. Brian Cruikshank, executive VP and managing director of Ipsos Insight's Technology & Communications practice, said consumer appetite for video content has accelerated the adoption of online video behaviors.

In the U.S. market and others where homes are saturated with televisions and DVD players, video content is a predominant part of consumers' daily lives, he said in a prepared statement.

"Increasing penetration of broadband access and PC ownership globally signals that the PC will begin to really assert itself as a 'second screen' within the household," he said.

Globally, about one in five adults has visited a social networking Web site, and 20% of regular Internet users had visited these types of Web sites in the past 30 days, according to the study.

South Korea led all other markets in popularity of social networking. Forty-nine percent of all adults there had visited at least one social networking site in the past, while over half of all online adults around the world had visited a social networking Web site in the preceding 30 days, according to Ipsos Insight, which attributed the popularity of social networking in South Korea to Cyworld, one of the oldest and most successful social networking sites in the world.

According to Cyworld, about 18 million people in South Korea have accounts with their service, about 30% of the country's population. Only 24% of Americans have ever visited a social networking Web site.

Ipsos Insight reported that online chat, text messaging, e-mail, video, voice chat, file sharing, blogging, and discussion groups help social networking sites create strong relationship with users -- "beyond the simple transactional nature many sites have with their audience."

"Social networking Web sites, such as Cyworld, MySpace, Facebook, and Mixi, have emerged as major factors in the culture of communication for adults globally, which is underscored by their popularity with Internet users even among lesser developed markets," Cruikshank said. Ipsos Insight said that at least two-thirds of all Internet users in most global markets have visited social networking sites in the preceding 30 days, indicating success with creating captive audiences.

"The frequency of visitation to social networking Web sites globally implies that many Internet users are no longer simply 'trying out' these sites, but rather adopting social networking as a significant part in their evolving digital lifestyle," Cruikshank said. "What will be interesting to monitor is the affect social networking will have on other online and offline entertainment behaviors that ultimately compete for a share of the consumer's disposable time. We have already seen some effects of social networking cannibalizing other online activities in some markets."

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