The growing popularity of online social networking and video content is deepening web users’ engagement with the internet and is causing a dramatic shift in the global online landscape – both for consumers and for advertisers, according to a report from The Nielsen Company, which was distributed at the ad:tech conference in San Francisco, reports MarketingCharts.

Nielsen’s research shows that since 2003, the interests of the average online user have shifted significantly, evolving from use of “short-tail” portal-oriented browsing sites – such as shopping directories, guides and internet tools – to sites that contain more specialized “long-tail” content geared to specific and interactive user interests

The number of American users frequenting online video destinations has climbed 339% since 2003. The unique audience for online video surpassed that of email in November 2007.

Time spent on video sites has shot up almost 2,000% over the same period.

In the past year, unique viewers of online video grew 10%, the number of streams grew 41%, the streams per user grew 27% and the total minutes engaged with online video grew 71%.

There are 87% more online social media users now than in 2003, with 883% more time devoted to those sites.