Do user generated videos outperform big budget brand videos in e-commerce?

I interviewed the video commerce company EXPO about this week’s announcement with digital measurement firm comScore, on the marketing potential of user-generated content. According to the report, results indicate that the highest performing user-generated product reviews contained many of the same sales elements seen in professionally-produced television commercials.

The videos were scored using comScore ARS’s content assessment methodology, ARS Zipline, which comScore reports as being used in the marketing industry as a means of quantifying the potential of advertising creative to be recalled and to persuade consumers.

“The results of our research suggest that user-created video is a format that not only yields promising persuasive executions, but does so in a way that complements traditional forms of media,” said Frank Findley, Vice President of comScore ARS.

“What the research showed was that EXPO’s videos – shot by moms & gadget guys on camcorders from the comfort of their home – are as persuasive, and arguably more persuasive, then multimillion dollar commercials created with 50 years of science on persuasiveness built-in.” says Bill Hildebolt, EXPO president.

“It’s no surprise that consumers can persuade each other, but it is surprising that in consumer-produced video, people are naturally exhibiting behaviors that years of research have found to be persuasive in professional television commercials,” said Joe Torpey, Director, Digital Marketing for LG Electronics USA, Inc. “Brands are only beginning to uncover the value that lies in giving consumers their own voice on the social web.”

According to the release, the study also revealed that the user-generated videos displayed their greatest strengths in areas different from other forms of media. “When conveying their experiences, the product reviewers were naturally more apt to focus on the product and its attributes,” cites comScore. “This resulted in a strong branding presence and communication of such elements as product convenience and quality, which are key rational elements in increasing an ad’s persuasiveness to a prospective buyer.”

You can read the press release to learn more about an overview of the study, including the testing conducted and lab findings, including which user-generated videos performed the highest, and for what brands and products. (See example videos here:

Is comparing television commerce with Web video a fair study for e-commerce purposes? I found myself raising the question with EXPO’s CEO and co-Founder, Daphne Kwon: Is comparing television commerce with Web video a fair study for e-commerce purposes? After all, the first group, television, is for a large audience in lean-back (passive) mode of viewing, without any original intention of engagement. The latter group, web video, is for a comparatively smaller and select audience, in lean-forward (browser) mode.

“We definitely think professional TV commercials and our user-gen videos are complementary, not replacements of each other,” says Daphne. “One of the more interesting sub-findings in the study was that among the elements of persuasiveness, our user-gen video reviews showed strength where traditional ads are weak.”

“For example, comScore ARS has found that product quality and convenience are very persuasive elements in commercials.  In comScore’s historical database, TV spots have traditionally scored very low in incorporating those elements.  However, EXPO’s consumers were very strong in hitting those two elements in their videos.  As you can imagine, it’s very natural and important for consumers to discuss product quality and convenience when evaluating a product and that came out in their videos.”

“The exciting thing about that finding is that it opens the opportunity for brands to put the right content in the right place for consumers.  TV commercials might have strength in mass eyeball paid advertising, but what about “earned media” platforms like retail sites, or exploding social networks like Facebook?  Instead of repurposing TV commercials, brands can offer video of real consumers sharing unbiased information to create a more impactful experience on those sites.”

What E-commerce professionals can learn from this study on user gen videos

Daphne says that EXPO is hoping that this study will help marketers broaden their definition of user-gen video beyond simply ‘viral videos.’  “The advertising industry has historically been so focused on reach and frequency, that a consumer seeking product information and recommendations has gone un-served by video,” she says. “ I think it’s pretty safe to say that most viral videos are light on product relevance.  We think that this study will show that informative, unbiased user-gen videos should be included into the digital marketing mix as a powerful component to persuade consumers to buy products.”

Upcoming webinar on user generated video study

EXPO and comScore ARS will be conducting a webinar on Wednesday, November 3 at 1 p.m. ET to further explain the methodology and results of the study. To register for the webinar, visit: