For Product Videos, How About a Little How-To Help?

By P.J. Bednarski


For the tragically unskilled who don’t know an Allen wrench from a Phillips screwdriver, the next, welcomed leap from manufacturers should be more and better online videos that show consumers how to fix--or just build--the things they bought.

The holiday season, with its urgent exhortations to stay jolly, is also the time of the year when millions of consumers fail miserably trying to insert handlebar Part A into bike stem Slot B. And that is so unjolly.

Consumers who view product videos are 85% more likely to buy than those who don't, according to data  from Internet Retailer. And so, it just makes sense that if you're looking for a bike, seeing a product video that assures you it's easy to assemble the brake pads (apparently it usually isn't) could influence the purchase.

When Invodo, the video solutions firm that makes and tracks product videos, recently asked consumers to rate the quality of videos made for products (not just Invodo ads,  either) the good news was that on a scale of 5 as the highest, consumers gave product videos a rating of 4.17.   The large majority of the people who rated the quality of the video opted out of making  any further comment.
But here's where it gets interesting. Those few who did stick around to comment had a lot of pointed things to say about what's wrong with the product or merchandise  videos  they saw.   They were, in Invodo's own words, "overwhelmingly negative" toward the content of the online videos.    
Their beef is that a lot of product videos don't really give enough useful information, didn't tell consumers what they wanted to know, or told them what they already knew. (If you're shopping for a treadmill, a video can cut to the nitty-gritty, not dwell on the healthy  jogger running in place.)
Also:These consumers wanted to see actual demonstrations of features products have, not just seeing the item and hearing what it can do. If that mower mulches, let's see  it do some mulching!
Or, they complained, that the video didn't really have good close-ups of the type of material the product is made of, or the quality of the construction.  Is that leather or  pleather, plastic or steel?
During the holiday season, some manufacturers could probably score points by adding how-to sites.   Maybe it's not so true anymore that parents even attempt to assemble bicycles for their kids on Chrismas Eve. (Norman Rockwell has been dead a long time.) But certainly some people must still try to put together a bicycle (or anything,for that matter) and yet, there aren't many well done -manufacturer-sponsored videos that are going to help.  And it would seem that at least around the edges of the study, that's what the Invodo critics seem to be asking for.  
On YouTube, quite a few small bike store owners help out by giving a basic overview on building a bike, and building goodwill along the way.  Sometimes, the instruction is a little basic. One bike store owner started, "Take the bike out of the box. It should look something like this." And it was true. It looked very much like a box.
I'm new on this MediaPost beat authoring the Online Video Blog daily. This is day one, as a matter of fact, though I've hung around the media most of my so-called adult life. I'm impressed with the wide swath of programming and marketing opportunities that online presents, growing by leaps and bounds. But I may take a longer view, too. I remember that hardly less than a decade ago, the pinnacle of cable excellence, as measured by
Nielsen, was WWF Wrestling. Things evolve.
To steal from James Taylor, the secret of life in the media is enjoying the passage of time, and I continue to enjoy the ride. For vendors and  public relations people in the field, please send items, tips, studies, suggestions-everything but the letter bombs--to  Thanks.



1 comment about "For Product Videos, How About a Little How-To Help?".
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  1. Sam Simon from Cygnus Business Media, December 4, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.

    As a video producer in the publishing/media field it makes me scratch my head that the overwhelming majority of product manufacturers have not jumped head first into creating a library of videos around their products - especially with the countless positive effects it is shown to have. This might be the easiest point of entry into the video marketing arena - companies have the products and they have product experts who are typically pretty dynamic. Add a digital camera and really you're ready to go.

    Best I can guess is that they don't really know how/where to start and/or may be a bit intimidated or overwhelmed at the thought of producing video. In my opinion the two options to address either obstacle for marketers would be 1) Have an organization do the productions for you or 2) Just start shooting video and learn from your mistakes.

    Either way they go, those who start publishing these product videos are going to reap the benefits while their competitors fall behind.

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