Getting started with online video is easy, right? All you need is a smartphone, some basic editing software, a Youtube account, and boom! Overnight sensation and tons of traffic to your website. At least, that is what most people seem to believe.

In reality, to truly succeed with online video, it all starts with understanding your audience. How are they accessing your videos? Does their consumption change over the course of the day? What kind of content does best? How do they discover and share it? After answering these key questions of Access, Content, and Discovery, it may turn out that Youtube actually makes no sense as the focal point of your online acquisition funnel, or that you completely missed the mark topic-wise.

Luckily for you, Yahoo Advertising just released the results of an in-depth survey of nearly 2,000 people to gain insights into their video consumption habits, and some of their data points make an excellent starting point for understanding your audience.

Access Throughout the Day

Multi-device engagement is the norm, and is not necessarily news. What is shifting is each devices’ share of a viewer’s attention. Laptops  capture eight-five percent, TVs seventy-three percent, smartphones sixty-five percent, tablets fifty-one percent, and video game consoles forty-nine percent. As you can see, laptops remain the most popular device for consuming online video, but expect that to change as internet-ready smart TVs become more commonplace overtime.

So what does this mean for you? If you are publishing videos on your website, you need to make sure your videos are responsive – e.g. automatically adjust to different screen sizes so the viewer experience is consistent across platforms. This will particularly help with keeping mobile traffic engaged.

The primary device used to view video also varies by time of day. This is key to the timing of any video marketing you are doing. Scheduling tweets to promote your new video clip? Aim for the morning and evening commutes, when a majority of viewing is done on mobile devices and people are catching up on social media. Save the longer form videos for later in the day, when people are shifting to static devices and have longer attention spans. Speaking of attention spans, people tend to seek distractions during the workday, so your relatively short and more entertaining clips will likely do better from say, 11 AM to 3 PM. Experiment with the timing of your messaging and see what gets the most traction with your audience.

Content is (Still) King

As we just hinted, the type of content being sought out also shifts throughout the day and corresponds to a certain extent to the type of device being used. In the morning, user generated content does better than short form videos (e.g. 3-10 minute news clips), or long form videos (e.g. TV shows or movies). This changes over the course of the day as viewers switch to laptops and TVs, and predictably, start watching more short and long form video. You can use this information to properly time the release of new content, schedule social media promotions for different types of video, or rotate the video content on your website.

The Yahoo study even gets at the types of content that are watched and shared the most overall. Not too shockingly, comedy, music, and how-to’s are the most popular types of videos online, in that order. Try to incorporate these different elements into your video production schedule to test different types of content. See what keeps your viewers coming back for more.

Video Discovery

So far so good, but how do you expand your reach and grow the audience for your video? Turns out, social media, browsing online, and going to a site directly or intentionally searching for it are by far more popular for content discovery than any kind of ads. Seventy-eight percent of people rely on social media, seventy-two percent browse online, and sixty-two percent go directly to the source. Ads were used by only eighteen percent of people to discover new videos to watch. For discovery, it should be clear that social media and being present on browsing sites are key to reaching new people.

Access, Content, and Discovery are key to understanding your audience, and represent the building blocks for turning your website into a destination for online video. Have you ever looked at how these three factors break down for your specific niche? Which one do you think represents the biggest challenge in terms of targeting and improving in your online video strategy? Sound off in the comments below!

Source: Why Online Video is a Daily Habit by Yahoo! Advertising accessed on January 17, 2014.