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.

Video Views Up, When Will Sales Follow?

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