The Online Video Snacking Trend

"Video snacking" describes how millions of people are creating viewing habits around quick & consistent consumption of video. I see evidence of this trend everyday in my work with Grab Networks, based on our server data. And, last month comScore published highlights of its video reporting for November 2008 that support this trend:

  • 146 million people, or 77% of the U.S. Internet audience, viewed online video.
  • Those viewers watched 34% more online videos than they did last year.
  • The average online viewer watched 273 minutes of video, up over 40% vs. the previous year.
  • The average duration of online video is fairly short, at 3.1 minutes per video.
  • And, the audience viewed 87 videos per month on average, 18 more videos per month than last year.

    The last two points highlight the trend of video snacking: "more people, watching more videos, more often."

    The average duration of online video was the only metric that remained consistent to last year, up only 18 seconds per video vs. the previous year. This is despite the fact that long-form sites such as Hulu did not exist last year. Americans still have relatively short attention spans when it comes to their online viewing experience.

    What is particularly interesting, though, is how women are using video vs. last year. According to the same comScore study as above:

  • Women watch 41% more online videos than they did last year.
  • They now watch 79 videos per month on average, up 33%.
  • They spend 227 minutes watching online video, up 46%.
  • The average video length for women is 2.9 minutes, vs. 3.4 for men.

    We also see some implications for marketers beyond the numbers. Through research we do to create content for clients seeking to reach women, we've found some distinct patterns in what women are looking for from their online video experience.

    Most women have extremely busy lives with work, home, budgets and kids (no new news there). They say that when they are watching online video, they crave content that transports them mentally away from their daily routine and reality. They also look for "information & inspiration" from relatable "sisters & situations." Video content that gives women real information, but that also allows for aspirational narratives, is particularly compelling.

    Video snacking is a real trend because online video meets a content need for viewers and is easily accessible to those viewers throughout their day. Marketers and agencies, particularly those that are trying to reach women, would be well served to look for ways to build on this trend to help achieve their goals.

  • 9 comments about "The Online Video Snacking Trend ".
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    1. Scott Maxworthy from Max Media & Entertainment, February 24, 2009 at 4:07 p.m.

      Good article.

      Online attention span is interesting - message not right, one click and your viewer is gone.

      Online video content needs to be very effective and engaging. If the message is embraced then hopefully it is commented and shared - increasing influence.

    2. Jeff Skaggs from CraveOnline, February 24, 2009 at 4:13 p.m.

      Great article, Dave.

      The trend you are pointing out also raises some other issues that all video publishers and advertisers need to be conscious about - video ad frequency.

      Far too many video publishers still run a video pre-roll before EVERY SINGLE piece of video a user watches, regardless of the length of the videos they are watching.

      Time-based (or session length-based) mechanisms for video ad insertion need to become a standard. For example, at, we would use a video ad insertion method that was based on the duration of a user's video-viewing experience. They would receive a pre-roll on the first video viewed, but would not receive another ad until they had watched at least 3 more minutes of video. Depending on ad demand, we could ratchet this session length to any desired duration - helping to allow the site to "breathe" when ad demand was light or providing increased frequency when inventory was tight.

      There a lot of video publishers doing this the right way, and the solution I mentioned is just one idea. However, until all video publishers become smarter about their users' video experiences (and less greedy about monetizing every piece of video watched), video advertising in a "video snacking" environment will continue to be viewed as intrusive.

    3. Gordon Vasquez from, February 25, 2009 at 4:20 a.m.

      How does this video snack look -->

      Way below the average on duration -- and makes you forget about everything --

    4. Suzie Shore, February 25, 2009 at 7:29 a.m.

      The insight into female behavior is really interesting. Women are becoming much bigger players on the web overall, so this ties in well.

      Would love to know more about female consumption of long form video.

    5. Dave Jackson from Grab Networks, February 25, 2009 at 10:49 a.m.

      All, thanks for the posts, a few comments:

      - We don't advocate an ad before each piece of content. Jeff, you are right as the viewer sees it as intrusive.
      - As for long form, we syndicate both long and short form. Our experience though with long form is that its more "appointment viewing", when the viewer has the time to watch. Whereas, snacking occurs throughout the day when the viewer has the need or time to view a few shorter segments.

    6. Heather Angus-lee from PROsocialmedia, February 25, 2009 at 11:52 a.m.

      Hi, Dave,
      Very compelling reading here. Question; Do you know how much of this online video market is owned by CORPORATE videos? Do you have any specific examples of corporate videos that are getting it right re: video "snacking" and the women demographics info you present?

    7. Lisbeth Kramer from Identities, February 26, 2009 at 1:19 p.m.

      Dave, you have any stats on the profile of women here? More women is one thing, but who are they?????? For indeed as I have for the past near decade been working with more to really connect with women (particularly 40+), I am interested to know and with their buying power, I think it would be cool info....thanks!

    8. Pinaki Saha from Me!Box Media Inc., February 26, 2009 at 1:44 p.m.

      @Jeff Skaggs - The problem is you only have that much of real estate to use as inventory and only that many degrees of freedom of the consumer to adjust your ad placement/frequency. What's needed is a somewhat different platform that provides a greater engagement from the consumer and appropriate placement of brand messages.

      If the message is hyper targeted and contextual, the frequency or inventory management will not be issues. Users will themselves navigate through your content and be accepting to the interstitials or pre-rolls (ofcourse as long as the company maintains sanity about spraying ads all over).

      We are launching a new platform soon in alpha mode that will address several of the above issues.

    9. Jeffrey Crigler from Catalist, May 3, 2009 at 1:07 a.m.

      Hi Dave,

      Even though I am the inventor and founder of the Voxant service that is now Grabnetworks.... I don't buy this "video snacking" idea.

      Snacking implies a couple of things.... eating things between meals, eating small bits of things.

      Maybe its semantics but the web is not about "tapas" at a Spanish restaurant (probably the best way to make a meal out of snacking!) it is about having a specific interest and looking for content on that subject of interest.

      People that spend hours on YouTube or the web in general aren't "snacking" they are trying to find a meal. Most viewers don't finish watching videos for a reason... they were not the meal they were looking for.

      If the thinking here is that snacking and grazing content will become the preferred method of getting information then I think GrabNetworks is missing the point. People don't set out to snack, they set out to eat. they "snack" only cause they can't find a meal.

      And what the best web companies are doing is packaging and creating content on which viewers can feast and this includes long from video, rich text melded with video and graphics and all sorts of information rich environments.

      This popular notion that I think GrabNetworks seems to be pushing, of ADD viewers consuming random 2 minute video clips, is neither desirable by viewers nor economically feasible for publishers.

      Jeff Crigler

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