If you have used the Internet in the past three years, chances are you have watched an online video. Video is everywhere. Our friends post funny cat videos on our timeline. Our coworkers pass along inspirational messages about success. Our favorite brands showcase their products in inventive ways. Nearly every site you visit has a video displayed in some form. As a result, video has rocketed in viewership--and there's no sign of it slowing down.
Here are 5 reasons why online video will soon dominate your time spent on the web, and why if you're a marketer, you can use video to propel your business forward.
1. More and more users are consuming their video entertainment online
Study  after study  after study  shows that more people are using the internet to consume video. In April 2012, ComScore reported that the average viewer watched nearly 22 hours of video in a single month. Most likely, those 22 hours were broken into many short-form videos, each being watched for just a few minutes at a time. The market is moving more toward catering to the Facebook generation's attention span--quick videos that are aimed to inspire, provoke, or excite. Likewise, the viewing experience on tablets devices such as the iPad make short-form content even more enjoyable. Apps, especially in the travel realm, are using HD video to engage audiences. Desktop and laptop viewers and tablet audiences continue to consume more and more short-form video--and marketers are seeing a big opportunity arise.
2. Marketers are using video to engage social media audiences
If you truly want to measure a trend's staying power and rising popularity, there's one metric that almost never fails. Can you make money from it? If the answer is yes, and there is a lot of opportunity to do so, then you can bet that it will stick around for some time. With online video that is definitely the case. Brand marketers have found great ways to engage audiences and create brand loyalists through online video, especially through their Facebook brand pages. Look no further than a brand like Red Bull to see how this can be done perfectly. With more than 27 million Facebook fans, Red Bull, an energy drink company with an extreme sports edge, must be doing something more than just updating their status about their newest flavor. Like so many others, I subscribe to Red Bull's updates because it often features some of the world's best athletes doing unthinkable things. I don't even drink Red Bull, but you can bet I share their videos every time I see someone in a wingsuit flying through Yellow Mountain in China. That's just awesome.
I predict the next 5-10 years will be huge for video marketing online. Brands are moving further away from direct advertising, whose metrics that are hard to calculate, and into original video content--content that is created not to sell but to engage. They tell a story and they create brand loyalty. The days of direct consumer advertising is dwindling, and the advent of marketing through storytelling has arrived. This will propel online video even more into the world of serious profits.
3. Barriers to entry are low
With the barriers to entry continually being broken down with advances in technology, filmmakers now have the ability to create content--all in beautiful HD--for a much lower price tag than ever before. DSLRs, with the Canon 5D, 7D, and 60D leading the charge, have evolved into amazing filmmaking machines. Videographers now have the ability to create amazing looking shots for a fraction of the cost of even half a decade ago. Throw in a nice mic, a high-quality sound recorder, a tripod, and a bit of editing pizzaz and you can make some very compelling videos. While shooting and editing a professional-grade video still takes a good amount of skill and experience, and perhaps this alone will help keep the market from being too saturated, it is now easier than ever to teach yourself to create the next viral hit.
With that being said, there are still a few more barriers to entry. To create truly high-quality content, you must be a storyteller. You must be able to pull together a large selection of shots and content and pare it down into a manageable short-form video that will engage an audience. Again, these techniques can be learned and taught--so save a few thousand dollars, snag some equipment, watch and learn, and make the next awesome video.
4. Quality is expanding quickly
To expand on the previous point, the advent of high-quality equipment at a reasonable price means that more potential storytellers are getting their shot at creating videos. Before, the sheer price and other barriers to entry meant that there was a very small portion of the population who could even be in the field. Now, with it being much easier to afford to even make videos, there is more opportunity for younger talent to enter the market. As a result, quality is expanding quickly. While we still have a host of poorly shot cat and travel videos on YouTube, communities like Vimeo pump out amazing amounts of beautiful content every day. A quick look at the Vimeo  homepage will allow you to view some of the most compelling and original video work online.
Vimeo and Youtube are also amazing teaching grounds, with tons of professional how-to and DIY videos. Likewise, sites like No Film School  are giving independent filmmakers access to some of the best tips and tricks on the web, making at-home learning easier than ever. The result is a huge influx of high-quality video, which can only mean more viewers, more shares, and more enjoyment for all.
5. There are plenty of avenues for dissemination
Everyone knows YouTube and it continues to dominate the market. But unless you're a professional musician or are looking to score the new huge viral video showcasing your friends firing off bottle rockets from a made-at-home cannon, there are plenty of other places to showcase your videos. As mentioned above, Vimeo is the finest collection of artistic videographers on the web. Without outwardly deleting poor-quality content, Vimeo's homepage and search results make it easy to find awesome content and avoid the endless amounts of useless crap that often plague the YouTube experience. Along the same lines, Pinterest's new video feature gives curators great opportunities to pin videos to their boards. Even more so than Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest has created a sharing experience so simple and effective, it makes the potential or virility even higher. Niche markets have emerged for nearly every subject you can think of, so whether your online video is about cats with lightsabers (I'd watch it) or running The Mount Everest Marathon , chances are there are blogs and sites who want to share it. All it takes is a bit of research and outreach.
Kerrin is the co-founder of the new travel documentary site Humanity.TV . He is a self-taught filmmaker and photographer with a passion for adventure. Follow him on Twitter  and like Humanity.TV on Facebook  for inspiring travel videos and photos.
[Image: Flickr user IvernoDreaming ]