Counterpoint: The value of interactive video shopping

Yesterday, Jamie Beckland wrote a post highlighting why e-commerce merchants need to think twice about interactive video shopping.  To me, the central point of the article was summed up with this statement: “Most e-commerce marketers have bigger fish to fry than getting someone to convert from a banner.” (I added the word “video” to the quote).

I’ll start this counterpoint article in an unexpected way: I couldn’t agree with Jamie more. But I think the article missed the larger point by confining interactive video shopping to “banners.”  Display advertising for most retailers produces no more than 2% – 3% of overall online revenues.  The article pointed out three main reasons why interactive video shopping might be “whiz bang” but not worth retailers’ time.  The reasons given were:

1) Unclear user intent, and nonexistent purchase interest

2) Lack of security and trust

3) No ability to research

I’d argue each one of these really has very little to do with video and has more to do with how a retailer might choose to deploy interactive video shopping.  To expand:

“Unclear user intent” has less to do with video than targeting. The article states, “The user is in the middle of reading an article about how the NBA draft picks are shaping up.  What is the likelihood that they are ready to buy a movie that they might have never even heard of?”

To me, it sounds like the article assumes the user doesn’t know anything about the “movie.”  But that is only probably true of large reach display campaigns, traditionally the realm of consumer brands as opposed to retailers.  Retailers, as Jamie points out, need to think more about targeting.  Which is precisely why retailers that are enjoying some success with interactive video shopping via display tend to concentrate their investments in video retargeting, or the intent/consideration phase of the funnel.  Few retailers have the luxury of launching reach oriented display campaigns unless the company is making a strategic investment in brand building (e.g. what Sears and Best Buy are working on now).

Even so – video has shown to drive purchase intent higher even with UNtargeted display.  With retargeting, the stats go way, way above the .0008% cited in the article.  .5% to even 1% or higher would not be radically out of target for a retailer that knows what it’s doing and is buying the right traffic focused on retargeting.  A couple of stats for our readers from Doubleclick’s latest “Year in Review” benchmark reports, as it pertains to video:

But confining the discussion to display would just be far too limiting, so it’s best to not even make a “huge deal” out of it for retail, esp. since, as mentioned, most retailers are driving only 2% – 3% of revenues from display.

What’s far more interesting to consider is when interactive video shopping is combined with the right targeting.  For example:

– When users share videos over Facebook, notifying hundreds of their friends at the same time that a purchase is being considered.  Take the example below I shared from UK-based retailer Kiddicare to my own Facebook profile.  It is easy to see the power of interactive video shopping within the context of Facebook – as many on Facebook don’t want to leave the news feed when browsing others’ updates.

Then how about email campaigns?

Or when video shopping is used on a highly trafficked page on a retail site in conjunction with a promotion (for example, a video shopping experience tied to a limited time sale)?

Or when video ads are self-selected by a retailer’s affiliates and placed within the context of informative content related to the product?

There are far too many examples outside of display, and outside of 0.008% response rates, where interactive video shopping can be an easy win for retailers.

The second point, that interactive video shopping is ineffective because of a lack of security and trust makes sense –  when used in the context of massive, untargeted display campaigns focused on driving reach.  But when a retailer uses interactive videos within its own channels and with its own shoppers, such as…

– On video shopping sites

– Even on product pages (when it makes sense – the subject of another post)

– On email campaign landing pages

– In site search results

– As a tool to navigate from category pages to products, or brand pages to products, or even the home page to products

– On affiliate sites where content is contextually matched

– Through retargeted display ads

– Over Facebook

… the “lack of trust and security” argument doesn’t really apply.

Finally, the last argument against the efficacy of interactive video shopping is really more of a technical limitation than anything else, and maybe splits hairs as to what “is” and “is not” interactive video shopping.  For example, retailers like Vitamin Shoppe let customers read product reviews and browse related products in video (see example below).  Is that “interactive video shopping?”  In the example, checkout takes place outside the player, but the player still facilitates part of the shopping experience.

And to the last point, that video doesn’t give a shopper a chance to learn about the retailer, I think there are examples of retailers that are already incorporating retailer-specific content into their product videos, such as the disclaimer used by Kiddicare in the live video example below:

I don’t mean for this post to sound like a total takedown of the last article (and I’m sure I’ll get some comments from Jamie in this one ;-)

But I do think it’s absolutely critical to think of interactive video shopping as a tool divorced from any one channel or site, and rather to apply interactive video shopping in the channels and on the pages where it makes sense.

Until next time…

Happy Selling!