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[12 comments]

Retailer Videos Find Audience on YouTube

May 26, 2011

Online video is a big deal and becoming bigger based on the latest from YouTube.

The website, celebrating six years online this month, reported the number of daily views it generates has moved past the three billion mark, a 50 percent increase over last year. As a release to announce the accomplishment quantified, "That's the equivalent of nearly half the world's population watching a YouTube video each day, or every U.S. resident watching at least nine videos a day."

Content on the site is also exploding, with more than two days worth of video being uploaded to the site every minute. That number represents a 37 percent jump over the last six months and 100 percent over last year.

The numbers of merchants and the views they generate on YouTube has taken off in recent years, with chains including Best Buy and Walmart creating multiple video channels.

Retailers' use of online video, in general, continues to increase with 73 percent of U.S. sites using video on company sites as well as YouTube, Facebook, etc, according to eMarketer.

Craig Wax, CEO of Invodo, told eMarketer, that retailers are using online video to improve the customer experience. "From a quantitative perspective, they're looking to increase sales conversion rates and at the same time drive more traffic to their site. They're able to do that because of video's impact on SEO. They're also looking to decrease the costs associated with product returns. When people watch videos about a product, they're typically much less likely to return it. Video can remove a lot of the uncertainty people have in buying certain items online."

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Discussion Questions:

Discussion Questions: Do you believe online videos should become essential to retailer marketing and communications plans? How should third-party sites such as YouTube be incorporated into the plans?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

How important is the use of video to the success of retailers in online and social media environments?

Comments:

I believe video is very important but a big miss if all you can use it for is a generic product example. Why? Because you may sell the viewer but lose the sale. The best ones I've noticed using video are farms stands--yes farm stands. They can make a quick video of what they just picked that morning and send it out to their lists to juice sales. They remain on YT to show how committed they are to freshness. How to capture that energy, relevance, localization and newness with apparel remains to be seen.

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Bob Phibbs, President/CEO, The Retail Doctor

Online videos should definitely be part of any retailer's marketing arsenal and retailers should maintain YouTube channels that include (approved) customer-generated videos as well as company videos. There are also good opportunities for contests relating to customer-created videos. However, retailers need to be realistic in their expectations. For every one YouTube user watching a retail video there are probably 10,000 watching the latest clip from Lady Gaga.

Dan Berthiaume, Editor, Independent consultant

In general, there's no question that video is preferable medium for breaking the attention span barrier. However, it's always a question of the value of the content. If a retailer has great content and video is the best format, then YouTube is a great means of exposure. I think marketers need to think less about incorporating YouTube into their plans and more about creating wonderful, exciting, spreadable content. If YouTube happens to be the best vehicle to deliver it with, then go for it.

Doug Stephens, President, Retail Prophet

Pre-View advertising for online videos are effective because they are too short for viewers to walk away, and most cannot be fast forwarded or deleted in order to view the forthcoming video. You have a captive audience.

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David Biernbaum, Senior Marketing and Business Development Consultant, David Biernbaum Associates LLC

Video is important. But, with a time-starved populace, its relevance is often overstated. Its importance generally declines as the targeted customer gets older.

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Christopher P. Ramey, President, Affluent Insights

Essential to retailer marketing? No. Nice to have? Definitely. Years from now, everyone will wonder why the focus was on print advertising.

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Cathy Hotka, Principal, Cathy Hotka & Associates

In general it is hard to argue that video is not increasing in importance for retailers.

That said, there are a lot of dimensions to this conversation--there is video advertising, video customer service, live video interactions, on demand video demonstrations of product, user generated video reviews/testimonials etc, etc.

My own experience is that there still remains a misalignment between the video content being created and many of the use cases where it is deployed. This problem seems particularly acute in physical store environments.

Retailers should be looking to develop capabilities and deploy video within the context of specific business objectives/initiatives and not be simply chasing "video" as a strategy. This will be even more important as we ascend the adoption curves for smart phones and mobile 4G connectivity expands. These factors will no doubt result in an increase in video-related capabilities and the pace of innovation.

Paul R. Schottmiller, Senior Vice President of Strategy, Retail and Consumer Goods, Merkle

I love the idea of using video to spread relevant marketing messages for retailers. The key is to have good creative, and get feedback from shoppers so the messages can be developed with shopper input. If it's just another way to deliver a coupon, no thanks. Retailers have to be creative about putting forth key differentiators that inspire people to shop.

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Anne Howe, Senior Vice President, Shopper Solutions, part of Acosta Mosaic Group

I agree with Bob that video should be used to differentiate the retailer, and not just promote a product the customer can purchase somewhere else.

Video can also position a store's expertise, store experience, promote an event, etc.

Most important, it should result in the customer visiting the store, or at the very least remembering why they shop at the store.

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Doug Fleener, President and Managing Partner, Dynamic Experiences Group

Isn't it gratifying to know the future of trees is safe since we are now deeply entrenched in the electronic media age? Print advertising companies better start looking for other revenue sources quickly.

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Ed Rosenbaum, CEO, The Customer Service Rainmaker, Rainmaker Solutions

Last December, I was in the market for a new camera for holiday photos, but the camera I wanted wasn't available in any stores near my home. I was okay with making the purchase online, so I did the normal pre-purchase e-research (manufacturer site, various retailer sites, product reviews and specs, etc.). Still, what ultimately made me confident in clicking "buy" was a video demo I found on the site of a single-store photographic equipment retailer which clearly showed how the camera worked and expected results.

The catch: I didn't buy it from the single-store operator, but from Walmart.com because I got a better price, and the free site-to-store shipping meant I got the camera in time for the holidays.

I'm a big believer in the power of video to create a more confident shopper. But my experience is probably the same as many other shoppers: Video alone can't ensure the final sale will be made at the retailer supplying the video. Had the single-store operator included some sort of first-time customer offer (like free shipping), that may have helped me buy from that site. Likewise, had Walmart.com included a video demo on their site, they could have reduced the risk that I may make the purchase elsewhere.

While video will only grow in importance to brands and consumers, it's only one step on the path to purchase. The brand at the end of that path--i.e., the retailer that ultimately gets the sale--will likely be the one who learns to successfully combine video with the rest of their offering to ensure the browsing shopper becomes a confident buyer.

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Tim Henderson, Editor/Writer, Independent

I hate the way web folks love to publish big numbers that are meaningless. I'm reminded of about a web search in a comment from a cartoon recently: "3 million cat videos; zero useful information."

As a video specialist, my sense is that retailers need video on the website--but it's more explanatory video--show people what they couldn't otherwise find out about the product. They CHOSE to look at the product.

But online video is no panacea for drawing people in--it just doesn't play that role. Online video reaches the people who are highly motivated to seek out the video.

My fundamental advice: Retailers should absolutely use video. They should put it on their website and probably NOT on YouTube. And, they should create much more convincing sales video and avoid what production companies really want to make--the "wow" video.

Doug Garnett, Founder & CEO, Atomic Direct

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