YouTube's Audience-- Not Who You Think

Let's clear up some marketers' concerns about YouTube.

If you go by much of the media coverage of Google's new acquisition, you might think that the average visitor is 17 years old and gravitates toward videos of nerds dancing. However, even though the typical image of the YouTube audience pictures teens or slightly older people, the demographic data contradict that stereotype.

Nielsen//NetRatings says that nearly 55 percent of YouTube's U.S. visitors in May 2006 were ages 35 to 64, with an additional 19 percent in the 25- to-34 bracket.

The data from comScore, also for May 2006, also show the 35- to-64 age group with the highest share of unique U.S. visitors, at nearly 48 percent.

A third source, Quantcast, offers more finely divided age groups, but shows the 35-to-64 slice with 65 percent of YouTube's unique U.S. visitors in August 2006.

The main takeaway from this demographic data is that marketers must go beyond media-spun, and often incorrect, images as they reckon not only where to put an online video campaign, but also how to target it. It will be shortsighted to peg all, or even most, video creative at those 24 or younger-the sites that might best sustain online video advertising are not just for kids. Even on the long-tail Internet, video will thrive best in mass-market niches, a phenomenon for all ages.

David Hallerman is a senior analyst at eMarketer. This article was drawn from his report, Internet Video: Advertising Experiments and Exploding Content. Contact eMarketer directly.