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Selling the Goods: Retailers Embrace Video as Virtual Sales People

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We spend so much time focusing on the TV-like branding impact of video that it is easy to forget that streaming media can also take some of its cues from the infomercial - direct sales. According to its quarterly survey of video presence at major online retailers, e-commerce video provider SundaySky video is becoming an increasingly important part of the sales process at many sites. The number of retailers in its survey using 1,000 or more clips at their sites has increased 50%, now comprising 32% of retailers, up from 22% the previous quarter. Leading the way is Overstock.com, which by SundaySky's count carries 95,000 product-oriented clips. Close behind is Amazon.com with 72,636 videos. Also deep into video are the online extensions of the shopping channels, HSN (29,6220 videos) and QVC (17,687). According to SundaySky Head of Innovation Tomer Naveh the most impressive shift in this quarter is not the higher volume of videos being used by retailers so much as the number of companies now recognizing the power of video to sell the goods. "We hadn't seen such an increase in the number of retailers using video over previous quarters," he tells me.

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In addition to leveraging video on site, retailers have been upping their presence and acceptance on YouTube. Naveh, who conducted the research for the study, also measures retailer popularity on Google's video hub and finds that subscribers to retailer video channels increased 21% in the quarter. The number of retailer videos posted to YouTube in the quarter rose 9% to 96,000, and the 420 million views of these videos represented a 13% quarterly increase. Nike and Systemax (TigerDirect, CompUSA, CircuitCity) enjoy the most video views on YouTube. 

Another key area for tying video to sales is search visibility. The number of retailer videos popping up in search results has also increased substantially, he says. In this respect HSN is a search SEO leader, with 12,500 videos being indexed, compared to Overstock with 6,310. Interestingly, high profile brand Nike also does well in search, even better than Apple or Victoria's Secret. Bing has been drilling more effectively into retailer video recently. SundaySky's survey finds that while Google showed a decrease in the number of Web sites indexing 10 videos or more, Bing doubled the number of sites for which it indexes ten or more clips.

In a case study of Zappos' video success SundaySky says that strong indexing of mass scale video deployment at the show seller resulted in an estimated 77,00 visits per month generated by video search results alone. In its analysis of top shoe shopping keywords (gleaned from Shopping.com) it found that 8.1% of the tested keywords generated Zappos video results.  

The metrics around video in search and on retail sites is starting to prove what many marketers felt in their gut - that video has a direct effect on buying decisions and its value can be mapped and measured, not just guessed.
1 comment about "Selling the Goods: Retailers Embrace Video as Virtual Sales People".
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  1. Grant Crowell from ReelSEO.com, May 29, 2011 at 12:54 p.m.

    Good article on the metrics, but I think a distinction needs to be made. A "virtual salesperson" around video is someone who can actually help you out online in real-time (or get back to you with help) directly from the video content you're able to submit your question from. These are really product announcements or demos around video, and not really having someone provide you with real-time customer support like a virtual salesperson (or help desk) could. I look forward to the day where we can have live video chats with actual sales reps and customer service reps to do just that.

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