Almost a fifth of American adults have tried video calling either online or via their cell phones. That’s one of the findings from the first study from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. 17% of adults have made a video or teleconferencing call of some kind, 6% have made them with their cell phone. Since this is the first time they’ve studied video usage, particularly through a cell phone, they don’t have a benchmark, but you don’t need a study to see that video chatting is on the rise.
Several times a week, I see commercials on TV with people video chatting by cell or by laptop. A deaf woman uses it to sign to her boyfriend. Kids use it to connect with daddy who is miles away on business. A soldier sees his new born baby for the first time. Communications companies hawk the idea in the way chemical companies hawked plastic back in the 50’s. It’s space age technology in the hands of the everyday person. How cool is that?
Let’s look at a few more findings:
- Video calling online is especially appealing to upscale users. A third of internet users (34%) living in households earning $75,000 or above have participated in such calls or chats, compared with 18% of those earning less than $75,000.
- Younger internet users are considerably more likely to conduct video calls. Some 29% of the internet users ages 18-29 have participated in video calls or chats or teleconferences, compared with 15% of internet users age 65 or older.
- Online men are more likely than online women to participate in online video calls (26% vs. 20%).
- Urban internet users (27%) and suburban users (23%) are significantly more likely than rural users (12%) to have participated in video calls, chats, or teleconferences.
Here’s what I’m thinking. We know that mobile is a growing force in marketing. We also know that social sharing and recommendations from peers helps when selling a product or service. So how about product placement in video chats? Think about it. In the same way we hire mommy bloggers to write a post, we pay a teen to put a Dr. Pepper on his desk as he chats with friends, or hang a Nike poster on the wall behind him. Urban, young men are the primary users, so why not play the latest rap tunes while talking with your bros. KaChing! That’s money in the pocket for both the chatter and the brand.
I ran this idea by my teenage son who instantly replied that he’d never sell out that way, but if one of his favorite psychobilly bands offered him a hundred dollars to play their music while talking with his friends. . . that’s a devil he might be willing to deal with.
What do you think? Could video chat product placements be the next big marketing push? And how long do you think it will be before half of all Americans are chatting face-to-virtual-face on a daily basis?