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YouTube, the US Midterm Elections and UK Politics
/ November 6, 2006 1:56 pm

The following is a blog entry from Heather Hopkins at Hitwise : "Half of the top ten most linked to videos online are connected with US politics." This was pointed out by Antony Mayfield on Friday (Head of Content & Media at Spannerworks, a search engine marketing firm). The impact of blogs was much discussed in the past three US elections. This election, the attention seems to be turning to YouTube.

I checked Hitwise US data and pulled some interesting charts (included below) that show that YouTube's US traffic is becoming more political. YouTube accounted for 63% more visits to Politics websites last week compared with one month ago. YouTube sent 88% more of its own traffic to websites in the Politics category last week compared with one month ago.

The following chart shows the share of US internet visits to YouTube compared with the share of upstream visits to Politics websites from YouTube. The trend is clearly illustrated by the grey line – showing that YouTube has been accounting for a larger share of US visits to Politics websites since January.

Now, you may be thinking that as visits to YouTube grow so too will it account for more traffic to Politics websites. The following chart shows YouTube's share of US visits again on the left axis, but this one shows the percentage of downstream visits from YouTube to Politics websites. In other words, what proportion of YouTube's own traffic is going to Politics websites? Again, a pretty compelling story. As YouTube's visits have been growing, so too has the site been sending more of its own traffic to websites in the Politics category.

Politics websites of both Democratic and Republican persuasion are participating in the YouTube revolution, but last week Democratic leaning websites were more prominent in YouTube's clickstream. The top three Politics websites sending visits to YouTube were Daily Kos, What Really Happened and Democratic Underground. The top downstream Politics websites from YouTube were JibJab, Daily Kos and John Kerry.

It is also possible that YouTube is helping political websites appeal to a younger demographic. Last week, 8.36% of US visits to websites in the Politics category were from 18-24 year olds and 26.27% were from those 55+. The percentage of visits from the 18-24 year old range was up 18% over three months ago and the percentage from 55+ was down 14%. Whether this will impact voter turnout from young voters is another matter…

I often hear that the UK is lagging the US by 3 to 5 years in online political activism. The perception is that US politicians and voters are more engaged online than in the UK. I often raise the examples of political bloggers Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes, two of the most popular UK blogs (based on share of UK internet visits). But what about in video clips? I haven't come across many embarrassing clips of MP's snoozing in parliament or of Tony Blair fumbling for his words. Is it simply that the Parliamentary system is too exciting for naps and that Question Period hones one's grasp of the language?

In the UK, YouTube was the #12 downstream site from the Politics category, receiving 0.76% of category visits. This compares to the US where YouTube was the #14 downstream website from the Politics category, receiving 0.70% of category visits.

So, in the UK Politics websites send more of their traffic to YouTube than in the US. BUT… The top three politics websites sending UK visits to YouTube last week were US sites (Daily Kos, What Really Happened and As we gear up for a Labour leadership contest and get closer to an election, it will be good to watch whether UK political websites become more prominent in YouTube's clickstream.

After receiving some feedback – I wanted to add this chart showing share of upstream UK visits to Politics websites from YouTube. Note. This post originally appeared on Hitwise blog here.

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