The Art and Science of Video Commerce

Video commerce is a challenge because it’s equal parts art and science. The art vs. science debate is one of the longest running conversations in marketing – and today’s video commerce programs sits smack dab in the middle of it.

Those that think art is more important say that branding is about creating an emotional connection with the consumer. The customer has to believe in the product before they buy the product. Therefore, the customer needs marketing to contextualize products and build that emotional bond.

That’s why Coke runs ads in theaters before the movies – they want you to associate great movies with drinking Coke.

Big advertising agencies thrive on the art of the ad. Sometimes it’s ridiculous; sometimes it’s necessary.

The science perspective advocates look at the marketing funnel like a probability series. This is where digital has been able to take a big leap forward – A/B tests pit creative elements against each other with one goal in mind: better performance. The best design is not the one that makes the marketer weep – it’s the one that converts the best.

Historically, these science-y marketers did brand tracking surveys. Now they geek out on analytics reporting.

And that brings us back to e-commerce video: it’s that rare bird that requires both an artistic sensibility and strong analytical chops.


What makes an e-commerce video work? If a video is working on an e-commerce site, it’s improving sales. Hopefully by a lot.

But how do you know if a video will improve sales? First, we can say that any video is almost surely better than no video. Throughout 2010, the main priority for many e-commerce sites has been to get any video content on the site.

But, as a video program gets established, it needs to continue evolving to keep testing improvements.

This is where an art focus becomes critical. Looking at second-by-second drop off rates will tell you when your audience is abandoning your video content. But it won’t tell you how to get them to engage. You need a creative vision for how your video will represent your brand promise.


The science of video placement involves determining where in the consideration process video can be helpful. Are customers more likely to convert from video on the home page? Product pages? Off-site? Of course, the answer is that all of these venues can encourage conversion, but it depends on the user receiving the right messages at the right time.

That’s where the art of placement comes in. Having a set of videos that lead a customer deeper into an experience can provide education and context along the way. Sequencing, or storyboarding, video messages to roll out across several platforms, with different emphases, is a creative process that requires a little bit of magic.


Video platform providers are ramping up their analytics capabilities to give marketers granular insights into video performance. And they are linking video plays back to larger awareness and sales goals. The science guys are just at the beginning of what kinds of feedback will be possible to parse from videos.

But, turning data into insights – and then using those insights to pivot marketing strategies – is a completely artistic endeavor. You need human creativity to evolve your video program to use the feedback your audience gives you.

So, to have a successful program, you will need to get in touch with your inner artist and your inner scientist. Make sure that your team has both creative thinkers and solid analysts. And your video program will maintain that magic mix of alchemy to drive your business forward.