MSN Video share surges – Soapbox and Live Search doing well?

In the latest Compete traffic rankings for video services released today, MSN Video shows a marked improvement in October compared to September. Visits were up 25.3% to 35m, giving it almost 9% of the video market in 2nd place. In comparison YouTube/Google has almost 54%, with Yahoo coming 3rd, 0.5% behind MSN.

So what has caused this dramatic increase? Aside from it potentially being a random blip (MSN had a 7.5% decrease for the September/August numbers) it seems that there are two possible reasons for the change.

The first is that at the end of September MSN Soapbox was migrated from a stand-alone site to part of the new MSN Video portal. This addition of user generated content to the premium content traditionally hosted by MSN Video has given a slight rise in videos per user, from 1.60 in September to 1.65 using the October numbers. It looks like MSN Video managed to succeed in attracting new users to the site, so the November numbers should show whether MSN has managed to retain them for a 2nd month.

Additionally the Live Search update was released at the end of September also, and part of this includes the new video search engine. Whereas the old Live Search had this feature tucked away as “in beta” and powered by a 3rd party, the new Live Search is promoted much more prominently. Featuring as an option on the main search homepage, switching to video search is now also available direct from regular web or image search results. The new mouseover video previews are also particularly cool, and help to engage the user with the content before they click through to view the full clip.

It’ll be interesting to see if this growth can be sustained through to the end of the year – I’m not sure it will but hopefully I’ll be proved wrong.