2010 Video Commerce Summit Recap

I’ve just returned from the 2010 Video Commerce Summit hosted by my company, Liveclicker. This is the second time the summit was held in Seattle, WA.  In all, the summit was 2X the size of last year’s with 75 onsite attendees from many of the top e-commerce sites including Amazon.com, Bed Bath & Beyond, Zappos, Microsoft, Costco, Nordstrom, REI, Overstock.com, and over 20 others.  REELSEO was onsite for videography.  Throughout this week we’ll see interviews on REELSEO.com highlighting learnings from the speakers and attendees.

Jimmy Healey from Onlineshoes.com addresses the audience during his presentation, “The Marriage of Online Video and Social Media”

I’m still digesting all of the information from the summit so beware the below thoughts are somewhat stream of consciousness as I reflect on the state of the video commerce industry.

  • The manner in which retailers are using video varies widely today, however most e-commerce sites seem to be concerned mainly with product videos.  It wasn’t universal, but the focus on product video was unmistakable.
  • Scaling video in e-commerce is a hotter topic than ever before, and it seems clear no one method of scaling is poised to dominate.  Automated video (e.g. SundaySky, Treepodia, DynamicVideo, Stupeflix) is preferred by Overstock.com (which uses SundaySky), but other retailers like REI choose to use a system like TalkMarket which automates much of the traditional filming process without creating artificial/computer-generated looking slideshow content.  Still other retailers are scaling through user generated video: Beautychoice.com scales through its YouTube “Beauty Stars” program while drugstore.com is using ExpoTV’s new integration with Liveclicker’s Video Exchange Marketplace to broaden access to user generated videos.  Zappos, which initially began using TalkMarket, has chosen to instead hone its own in-house production process to make video scale as they race toward producing 60,000 videos in 2010.
  • I’m more convinced than ever before there is a direct response TV play for many retailers, especially lifestyle brands.  The reason is simple: TV offers reach.  Reach is the #1 problem faced by retailers today in their video programs.  It’s not about the number of videos, but rather making sure the investments in video are targeted enough that they reach a wide audience and focus on hot products that generate lots of revenue (HSN model, which btw is total opposite of the auto-video model in my view).  I’m unsure whether my view is shared by many retailers, but seeing HSN’s stats for the lifetime value of their multichannel shoppers for TV and web (~$1,250) is nearly twice the value of the shoppers that are only on TV or only on the web looks like a major opportunity for most traditional “web only” e-commerce sites.   Plus, smaller retailers like PFI have been able to make TV work with close to “zero” budget, funding efforts through vendor co-op programs.  Still, the lack of video as a core competency for most retailers, plus the inability of most retailers to make a sizable direct response TV play without direct CEO level support will probably hold most back for now although I do expect to see a couple of interesting announcements over the coming 12 months that are likely to propel the industry in this direction and further blur the distinction between TV direct sales and traditional e-commerce.
  • Video SEO continues on as a hot topic in online retail.  This is the subject of a multi-part blog post, but suffice it to say many retailers see a big part of the immediate video opportunity comes in the form of better SEO.
  • Guided video shopping is poised to become an emerging trend in the second half of this year entering into the busy Q4 season.  We’ll likely see several interesting cases from top retailers that are working to bring interactive video to the next level during the upcoming holiday.
  • We held a ‘future of video’ panel with Dan Greenberg (Founder/CEO Sharethrough), Xavier Casanova (Founder/CEO Liveclicker), Yaniv Axen (Founder/CTO SundaySky) and Mark Robertson (Founder/Publisher REELSEO).  Some of the views held in common by the panelists included a) each person sees a rich future in automated, personalized video, although it wasn’t clear what form that would ultimately take b) successful video platforms will take open approaches while providing the right amount of rich functionality to appease the partner ecosystem while remaining highly competitive in the core product c) there is going to continue to be a blurring between brand and direct marketing with video, but the two worlds are still far apart.  It’s clear though that video is blurring the worlds of branding and e-commerce in new ways that are likely to have significant impact on the ways we shop and interact with brands.
  • This video commerce industry feels like the e-commerce industry felt in 1998.  The future is bright for all of us in video commerce.  We’re still in the top half of the first inning in an exciting baseball game.  Until next time… Happy Selling!
View from the Video Commerce Summit Private Suite at Safeco Field at the 2010 Video Commerce Summit.
View From left: Justin Foster (Liveclicker), Bill Hildebolt (ExpoTV), BJ Fogg (Stanford), Denny Bills listen in on the panel, “Social Video: The Next Wave of Video Commerce?” with Dan Greenberg (Sharethrough), Andy Chen (PowerReviews), Jimmy Healey (Onlineshoes.com), Jordan Blum (BeautyChoice).
Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab Director BJ Fogg delivers his keynote address, “Placing Persuasive Video on the Path to Purchase.”
Summit attendees listen intently as HSN’s Emery Skolfield presents “How HSN Maintains its Video Commerce Leadership.”