Despite the popularity of social networking and video sharing sites, gaming is the most popular online activity in the US with some 34 percent of adult web users playing online games at least once a week , according to a new report issued by research firm Parks Associates.

Online video came in as the second most popular activity, with 29 percent of users watching short clips weekly, while social networking rounded out the top three at 19 percent. To a great extent, casual games have been responsible for the success of online gaming, according to research analyst for Parks Associates James Kuai. Marketers should be cautious not to overlook games when investing online as it has some business advantages over other online activities:

"Unlike sites for social networking and video streaming, which rely solely on advertising revenue, casual gaming has more mature and heterogeneous revenue models, including Web-based and in-game advertising, try-before-you-buy, subscriptions, and micro-transactions."
Sites like Yahoo Games and EA's offer users access to a wealth of ad-supported games, where sponsors have options for branding opportunities, and display and banner ad placements. However, "the casual gaming industry cannot rest on its laurels," says the report, as online video is set to challenge the favorite online activity spot. Compared to a year ago, online video rose 123 percent compared to a 79 percent increase for online gaming.