Chew On This: Online Video Platforms Are The New Watercooler

If you thought primetime television fell between the evening hours of 7 and 10, think again. Judging from the "video snacking" trend that's sweeping through offices across the country, lunchtime is the new primetime, so get ready to reshuffle the communications cards in favor of bite-size portions and empty calories.

In case you haven't heard, video snacking refers to the booming business around spikes in Web traffic that always coincide with the lunch hour. This activity is attributed to workers who gather to tune in to Web videos over their soup and salads the same way they used to hover around the watercooler for purified H2O and gossip.

This is only further evidence of what survey after survey concludes: Web video is here to stay, and it's just as much a business tool as it is an after-school special for the high school set. In fact, a recent PR News/DS Simon survey on Web video as a PR tool reiterates its growing presence in communicators' portfolios, especially as they look to 2008.

"The overwhelming takeaway [of the results] is that Web video usage is commonplace," says Doug Simon, CEO of DS Simon Productions. "It's not an option anymore when 84% of respondents will be including online video in their 2008 communications plans."

Want more proof? According to the latest Horowitz Associates report, six out of 10 high-speed Internet users watch/download online video content at least once a week, and 86% do so on a monthly basis. These numbers are compared to 45% and 71%, respectively, in the 2006 study.

The various survey results go beyond the notion of video snacking, which, albeit a playful pastime in the cubicle, points to the widespread usage of the technology by professional businesspeople. For communicators, the findings demonstrate how many of their peers will use online video in 2008 to communicate both internally and externally, especially for direct-to-consumer communications (58.8%, according to the PR News/DS Simon results).

"The findings reflect how people get their information. Video adds stickiness to a site. It makes people stay longer," Simon says. "Anyone who works in any office these days knows that their staff is watching professional online video content." (Hence the video snacking phenomenon.)

Most important, though, is applying online video technology in a way that complements your brand--not redefines it. "There is a reality check when you start thinking about how it will work for your brand, how you will develop a following and how you keep with consistent messaging and brand images," Simon says.

Widespread professional use of online video also raises important questions of where executives will produce it.

According to the PR News/DS Simon survey, 46% of respondents create Web video in-house, while 27% set up the capabilities with an outside consultant and then produce content themselves. Twenty-four percent of all respondents rely solely on an outside resource.

"People will begin asking themselves if they need to hire people internally to do this stuff," Simon says. "It's a question of committing staff to online video full time versus just borrowing pieces of staff [to pull something together]." PRN

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CONTACT: Doug Simon,

Video As A PR Tool: A PR News/DS Simon Survey

1. Are you a corporation, PR agency or nonprofit/association?

Corporation 38.3%

Nonprofit/Association 31.6%

PR Agency 28.1%

No Response 2.0%

2. What areas of Web 2.0 are you looking to actively use for your organization or your clients (choose all that apply)?*

Online Video 74.0%

Blogs 67.4%

Podcasts/Vodcasts 54.1%

Webcasts 47.4%

Social Media (MySpace, Facebook) 37.1%

Video Blogs 25.1%

Second Life 8.0%

3. Are you using these tools to ?communicate internally or externally?

Both 50.3%

Externally 36.3%

Internally 9.9%

No Response 3.5%

4. What ways do you think online video can be most effective as a communications tool?

Direct-to-Consumer Communications 58.8%

Internal/Training Tool 22.5%

B2B 17.3%

No Response 1.5%

5. Are you looking to create the ability to utilize Web 2.0 in-house, or to partner with an outside resource?

In-House 45.6%

Set up w/ consultant, then in-house 26.9%

Outside Resource 24.3%

No Response 3.2%

6. Which of the following will you be including in your 2008 communications plans (choose all that apply)?*

Online Video 84.0%

Blogs 42.2%

Podcasts/Vodcasts 41.0%

Webcasts 35.3%

Social Media 28.0%

Video Blogs 17.5%

Second Life 5.7%

7. What will be the most important ?need for video in 2008?

Online Video 31.6%

Corporate Communications 17.3%

Internal Communications 11.1%

Webcasts 10.5%

Viral Campaigns 9.1%

Targeted Placement 7.3%

Earned Broadcast Media 3.8%

Video Blogs 3.5%

Source: PR News/DS Simon

342 respondents

*Based on 248 respondents