Any look at the leaders has to start with Launch Music. Yahoo! never managed to do much with Broadcast.com after they acquired the Internet streaming company in 1999. But the portal made up for lost time, and instantly became one of the leaders in streaming media, with their acquisition of Launch Media in 2001.
Launch Media was a streaming radio service that had built a small, but respectable collection of music videos, and was already attracting millions of teens and young adults each month. Almost immediately, millions more started flocking to the site from Yahoo!
Today, Launch Music on Yahoo! has collected an astounding number of videos, and attracts 12 million unique visitors a month. According to Yahoo!, one quarter of those visitors are 13- to 17-years-old, and 40 percent are 18- to 24-years-old. Just over half of Launch visitors are male. With the average visitor watching 20 to 25 music videos, Launch delivers a whopping 250 to 300 million videos each month.
Yahoo! offers advertisers not just 15- or 30-second ads between the music videos, but also a combination of companion and leave-behind ads. A 300 by 250 pixel banner runs next to the in-stream video ad, and gives users a chance to respond immediately to the advertiser. A 468 by 60 pixel banner runs during the video ad as well, and typically stays on the screen for two or three music videos after the in-stream ad has run.
Advertisers have occasionally taken over pieces of the Launch video player, as Frito-Lay did earlier this year. These packages include a persistent logo on the player window, in addition to in-stream ads and banners.
Because Launch's demographics skew decidedly young, it's no surprise that they attract a variety of consumer goods and entertainment marketers. Adidas, Electronic Arts, Pepsi, and Sony Pictures have all run campaigns on the site recently.
The question that remains for Yahoo! is whether they'll ever be able to extend their market leadership from music into other types of video.
The company has had several false starts over the years, ranging from Broadcast.com all the way to last year's failed Yahoo! Platinum, a subscription video service. Undoubtedly, the company - and its advertisers - is anxious to see a viable video news and sports service as well.
Yahoo! has been in the streaming business for years, but next week, we'll take a look at one of the newer players in video advertising: MSN Video.