Half of U.S. population will watch online video by 2008

The year 2008 will represent a mass-market benchmark, as more than 50 percent of the U.S. population — 155.2 million people — will watch video online, according to market research firm eMarketer.

The current year, 2007, will show the greatest year-over-year growth for online video ad spending, rising 89 percent to $775 million, the firm said. But more significantly, the growth rate will remain near or above 40 percent through 2011, when video ad spending is predicted to reach $4.3 billion.

Even by 2011, the amount of time spent watching video online will be more significant than the ad dollars chasing those eyeballs, the firm said.

“As marketers and web publishers look for ways to expand video’s place in the online advertising universe, two key concerns will keep growth below expectations,” said David Hallerman, senior analyst and author of the report. “One is the uncertainty about what the audience will accept, with questions about where in the content the ad will run and how long it will run for. The other is the difficulty gathering together enough video ad inventory, with questions about ad placement and how to monetize the billions of user-generated video streams.”

The eMarketer report is titled “Video Advertising Online: Spending and Audience.”