When it comes to video commerce, OMMA doesn’t “get it.”

Over the weekend, I thumbed through the December 2008 issue of OMMA magazine, “Survival Guide: 2009.”  OMMA assembled its 2009 Survival Guide from a collection of “Top 10 Things You Need To Know About…[insert important industry topic here].”   You can imagine my delight when I turned to the section on Video, authored by Daisy Whitney. Finally, a top-tier publication was going to let all of us online marketers know what we need to do to succeed with video in 2009.

Imagine my disappointment when I saw not a single suggestion was related to video commerce.   Sure, there were plenty of references to branded entertainment, viral marketing, media companies, video advertising, Hollywood, and entertainment brands.  That’s nothing new – video has been all about these things for the last few years.  Video commerce is something different – something truly new.

For too long, the industry of online video has been framed through the lens of media companies, Hollywood, and online advertisers.  Unfortunately, that view is inadequate for online marketers because it views video primarily as a product for advertising, not as a sales tool.

As online marketers in the e-commerce industry, we need to move away from the idea of video as a media that builds audience and instead focus on how video supports the core business.   Viral video can be important, sure.  Launching a new online TV channel might sound like a great idea… I get it.  But online marketers focused on selling products need to think more about how video will help sell more, not about how to use video to launch a new media venture.  Let me put it another way, perhaps a bit more bluntly:  E-commerce companies can either monetize video NOW by driving more traffic to their e-commerce sites and increasing site conversion rates, or e-commerce companies can focus on video as a new media outlet and HOPE to break even by selling ad inventory while simultaneously entering a completely new industry already bursting with new and established entrants.

I don’t mean to be the one to be the bearer of bad news, but in times of economic slowness, despite what all the optimists out there in the media say, few of us will have the luxury to experiment outside the core business in 2009 (and those of us that can, count yourselves among the lucky ones!)  Video commerce is different because it’s primarily concerned with supporting the core business of selling products.  QVC, HSN, and ShopNBC may not have viral video hits or the most ground-breaking ads, but they’ve built empires on the power of direct response video and now are leveraging that content to drive sales online by merchandising with video on their sites.

While I don’t think the QVC and HSN model are necessarily the best fit for all e-commerce companies, their online model should be considered by those of us without a background in video production and direct response.  Let’s remember these pioneers of the video commerce industry aren’t dedicating so many resources to online video simply because it’s “easier for them to do” since they already have content.  The reason they’re doing it is because they understand what many of us still do not.


In closing, I’d like to reiterate I have nothing against Daisy Whitney.  She is an accomplished reporter and without a doubt one of the leading online video industry luminaries out there, but her background isn’t in e-commerce – it’s in media.  And OMMA, as the self-proclaimed magazine of “Media, Marketing, and Advertising” is way too heavy on media and advertising reporting when it comes to video, and way too light on using video as a marketing tool accountable to the bottom line.

Happy Selling!