In January of this year, the first video blogging (or vlogging) conference was held in New York City. But, unsurprisingly, most people attended vloggercon 2005 online.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, an estimated 8 million Americans have blogs and 32 million have read a blog, up 58 percent from just 10 months earlier. Technorati, a blog search engine and measurement firm, reports roughly 23,000 new blogs are created every day.

Video blogging is still nascent, and it’s unclear how it will grow up. With broadband penetration at a tipping point and low-resolution digital video cameras available in cell phones and PDAs, it’s only a matter of time before vlogging becomes an opportunity (or a major challenge) for marketers. Imagine consumers regularly posting hidden-camera videos of a customer service failure at a bank or a retail store. It’s closer than you might think.

Today, there are only a small number of well-trafficked vlogs, and many are purely entertainment-oriented, such as Steve Garfield’s, or more news oriented, such as Rocketboom. Google, Yahoo!, and other portals are looking into hosting vlog services, however, and Google recently announced it’s including personal vlogs in its video search function.

Online video has been around for a long time, but with broadband’s ubiquity and the explosive growth of text-based blogs, camera phones, and small, inexpensive digital cameras with video capabilities, the rise of vlogs seems inevitable. Vlogs’ popularity rose noticeably after the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia. Dozens of vlogs sprung up distributing raw tsunami video footage. People sent e-mail containing obscure tsunami URLs depicting gruesome imagery. Later, the same footage ran on the evening news. The major news networks all pulled from the same sites, but more complete, newsworthy footage was available sooner because of vlogging.

Clickz.com 26 April 2005