I see headlines week after week about the explosive growth of online video, but all too often they seem narrowly focused on how to syndicate video on YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, etc. While it's great that there are more venues for video than ever before (and even better that companies no longer need to rely on hugely expensive options like television to maximize their reach), if all your business is doing is repackaging the same old corporate brand videos in more places, valuable opportunities are being missed.
Today companies can use video to merchandise individual products, scaling the quantity and variety of videos to these destinations. Here's a look at how you can easily and inexpensively move beyond brand video and explore ways to merchandise products at the SKU-level.
Automating the Expensive Stuff
Unlike branding videos, "merchandising" videos that promote individual products don't have to be uber-produced. They do, however, have to convey all the useful information about a product that consumers need to know before buying. For example, suppose a prospective car buyer wants to take a tour of the interior features of several cars before visiting a dealer, or maybe a shopper wants to be presented with different angles, usage situations and functionalities of a video camera she is thinking of ordering online.
For this kind of video, new technologies allow you to eliminate the costs associated with shooting, editing, supers, voiceovers, updating price/specs and more, while maintaining a certain level of quality. The result is videos that cost pennies, not dollars.
Ken Burns Revisited
What is video anyway but photos in succession? Anyone familiar with the highly acclaimed "Baseball," "The Civil War" and "Jazz" documentary films knows that Ken Burns has transformed photographs into compelling, moving content with great success. New video automation technology now exists that allow marketers to leverage this format in a number of new ways -- ways that are far more sophisticated than the simple slide show we're all familiar with. There are several important benefits delivered by this approach to this type of video production:
1) Getting maximum use out of your existing quality images. Back in the Jurassic Age of marketing (pre-Internet), I worked for a major apparel retailer, and one of my responsibilities was managing photo shoots. An immense amount of labor and expense went into getting that one perfect image for the catalog, while dozens of beautiful photos shot from different angles or in different backdrops simply went to waste. The same process (and waste) exists today -- why?! I'm not advocating using all your outtakes (there are bound to be some crappy ones), but I'm going to guess that most product photos shoots result in a decent number of quality images. You've already paid for the photo assets, so use them for video assembly. (Especially when images display different ways of interacting with the product or functionality.)
2) Quality control. It's much easier and cost-effective to touch up single images as opposed to footage.
3) Fewer production issues. What's the single most time-consuming and expensive part of producing a video? Editing, changes and re-editing. Photos are much more simple to stitch together and rearrange, greatly reducing editing time and expense.
The marketers of complex products like real estate and automobiles are already turning to this video automation, or "real-time video." In fact, millions of videos are being produced, updated and syndicated every day. These executions have been shown to double the engagement time with each product (compared with static assets) and significantly lift lead generation. It's time for other verticals, particularly retail, to leverage video for their products. Video automation offers an affordable, resource-efficient and compelling way to leverage moving content to drive sales.