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Digital video viewing is one of the most common digital activities in the UK. eMarketer estimates 43.2 million people in the country will watch digital video content via any device at least once per month in 2017.
Of the digital behaviors tracked by eMarketer, only internet use in general will exceed video viewership. This year, an estimated 65.1% of the UK population will be digital video viewers, compared with 64.3% who will be smartphone users.
Uptake among children ages 11 and younger and adults 55 and older will drive the rising digital video viewership in the UK. These two groups have long trailed the UK’s most rapid adopters—teens and millennials—but are taking to digital video consumption at faster-than-average rates.
As digital video viewing in the UK matures, the methods used to do so are becoming more sophisticated. Nearly seven in 10 smartphone users, and almost half of the country’s population in general, will watch videos via smartphone this year, eMarketer predicts.
Smart TV and tablet-based viewing also will continue to rise, while PC-based viewing will decline further, according to third-party estimates.
Regardless of device used, most short-form content will be accessed on YouTube. But longer-form content is most likely to be streamed via BBC’s free iPlayer or through a paid Netflix account, and that’s a challenge for marketers, as neither offers advertising opportunities. Instead, digital video advertisers seeking UK audiences are turning to YouTube—typically opting for pre- and post-roll ads that studies show aren’t particularly liked by UK consumers—or to social networks like Facebook as well as mobile video opportunities, which are generally better tolerated by users.
Of the above, social video has been seen to be particularly effective. In an October 2016 survey by Brightcove, 47% of UK adult social video viewers watched branded videos in the social media sphere, and 43% went on to make a purchase after doing so.
“It seems remarkable that such a high percentage of social video viewers will go on to make a purchase after seeing a branded ad in such an environment,” said eMarketer senior analyst Bill Fisher, author of the new report, “UK Digital Video and TV 2017: Who’s Watching, How They’re Watching and What It Means for Marketers” (available only to eMarketer PRO subscribers). “However, this is merely symptomatic of the engagement that social video offers—that is, there’s a user choice involved in the decision to engage. As a brand, you still need to foster that engagement, but if you can, the rewards appear to be sizable.”
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