Video Views Up, When Will Sales Follow?

Jan 27th, 2009 | By | Category: Headline, Marketing, Research

Hot on the heels of a recent comScore report, we hear the interesting news that product videos views are up some 40%, year-over-year basis last October.  Now, that was done on a single rather small sample, but still this speaks to the increasing influence video will exert on product marketing online.

We’ve commented any number of times that rampant poor product imagery represents a consistent loss of sales for online businesses. Most retailers just end up using the low-quality, “ordinary” images provided by the product manufacturer. Rare is the retailer who invests the money to re-shoot product with an eye towards improved presentation on the web.

Certainly, replacing or augmenting poor product images with product videos can help sales. Is it better? Yes! Particularly if the video has greater quality than the manufacturer images it replaces. Is it enough? I doubt it. To get to the next level where the video has a substantial impact on sales, there must exist a certain persuasive quality to the video, and you don’t get that by simply running stills together at 30 frames per second — no one would claim the typical YouTube video to be on a par with the work of Hitchcock, Kubrick, or Fellini.

Now, no one is expecting retailers to win Hollywood awards for their product videos, but quality video production is waaaaaay more complex than quality still image production. It has to be scripted. Do you use a voice over? Is it a male voice, or a female voice? What about using a model — do we go with the hot one in a bathing suit or with Average Joe Everyman?  What’s the ideal length for this sort of product and audience? What will the calls to action be? Think about your typical product showcase on QVC or HSN and how much effort and time go into selling each product.

Technology like EyeView are springing up to measure video analytics (hmm, “vanalytics”, anyone? Too risque?) and even test it. But this, too, begs the question: are consumers even trained that they can click within video? (YouTube certainly seems to think they can be trained). So low early conversion rates may be ok, but give consumers a year or two and those clicks will be up significantly.

Where does this go next to get to this higher quality level? Videos can be used to show product in new, more revealing informative ways such as this sort of 3D imagery by Ortery, which revolves around a product, taking a series of stills, and then automatically creates Flash video of the product ready for upload. How about testimonials, perhaps by creating a product-specific “home shopping network” for one particular product? Imagine having Bazaarvoice integrating customer video testimonials directly into a longer, fuller product video.

What do you think?

P.S. If video and commerce interest you, then don’t forget to subscribe to my friend Xavier Casanova’s blog, which covers the intersection of video and commerce.

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8 Comments to “Video Views Up, When Will Sales Follow?”

  1. Dave says:

    One of the drawbacks of video in ecommerce is the technology needed to smoothly present and playback so that the shopping experience isn’t annoying. Currently, low conversion rates aren’t just because video is new, and consumers don’t know how to use it (although this is a big part of it), but also, users find sites that are bogged down with slow loading pages, video streams that play back for 2 seconds and then say “buffering…” simply leave and go somewhere less annoying.

    I think that to improve conversion rates when using videos, retailers are going to have to find ways to integrate video in a much less annoying way.

  2. You know what. I have to say that at my last company we spent nearly 2 months with 3 people, a lightbox, and Adobe Fireworks making thousands of high quality images so that we would not have crappy manufacturer images. We then spent money and had video made for each of the top-selling products and place them on the item pages. The target audience was 16-30 for our site, and this whole process didn’t seem to increase sales at all (we had 5-9k visitors a day, so quite a significant number to analyze). The site looks nice though.

  3. Tom Harris says:

    Interesting report on product videos. Has there been any studies done on service related videos?

  4. John Quarto-vonTivadar says:

    Web Design Florida: about when was that? recently? ’07? etc.

  5. John Quarto-vonTivadar says:

    Tom: I’ve not seen any published data yet w.r.t. service related video, just anecdotal results here and there shared at conferences

  6. paul W says:

    I believe a consumer made video review on YouTube can be authentic and compelling when incorporated as a testimonial. I think it can be compeling to see some products actually working too. Dyson vac? Ultrasonic Jewelry cleaner? Cooking product or utensil? Software screenshots with description? Website (basically a poor man’s online demo)? Basically anything that can go into a television infomercial or one of those demos in the mall or a mall store.

    I just put a link to one on a landing page I was designing today for an iPhone app, groceryIQ (thanks for the plug ;-). If I had the time I would test a landing page with and without the video so I could pass along the results. But I won’t have time on this one, sorry. Anyone else?

  7. […] place on your site? Jon Quarto-vonTivadar, writes how that is NOT the case in his article: “Video Views Up, When Will Sales Follow?” Take a look — he has good advice.  And here’s a series of articles about […]

  8. Some say videos help sales, but I just haven’t seen it. I don’t really think people have enough time on the web to sit through most videos.

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