In the automotive industry, aftermarket products are huge. Consumers relish having the ability to enhance their vehicles post-purchase, whether with the purpose of improving their functionality or to better reflect the owner's personality.
In digital marketing, efforts to facilitate functionality and highlight brand (our equivalent of "personality") have traditionally been made pre-purchase, or even pre-development. Issues like how best to garner consumer attention and motivate clicks are taken into consideration early in the site and ad development process – particularly when assets include production-heavy online videos. And as any digital marketer will tell you, optimizing them once they've been launched can be a major strain on resources.
What our industry needs is its own aftermarket business. And with the help of companies like Veeple, we're getting it.
The Palo Alto, CA-based company was launched in 2006 with the intention of facilitating interactive and actionable video. Veeple's sales pitch – "Dramatically increase conversions using interactive video" – is one that's bound to resonate with media planners and buyers for whom getting "interactive" is so important that it's often part of our job titles.
But what's really interesting about its product is that it can be applied to any video that a marketer or client has to work with on a site or in a campaign. That means if your latest video ad isn't producing the results you were hoping for, or you're looking for a creative way to repurpose video ads from campaigns past, there's something you can do about it beyond either re-shooting or optimizing your media buy.
"So much content is already produced. We're not asking people to start from scratch," said Doug Broomfield, SVP, user experience and customer support with Veeple. "You can now take something and make it fresh by adding a link at the end, or a PDF that can easily be swapped out next week."
Through its online platform, Veeple allows marketers to make their videos interactive by adding customized clickable "spots" and presenting the video in Veeple's own media player (which, naturally, can be branded for the advertiser). With the help of a video editing platform, videos can be enhanced with speech and thought bubbles, text boxes, downloadable PDFs, Word and PowerPoint documents, images, and contact information – useful for videos that feature a host.
This is similar to the video annotations feature launched by YouTube in 2008. However, YouTube doesn't allow its consumers to link to an external site; consumers can only drive viewers to another video on YouTube. Veeple's object recognition technology also allows consumers to make individual objects clickable, such as an item of clothing or a product within the video content.
Once a video has been enhanced, the marketer can use it in a number of different ways. Broomfield said his clients – of which there are over 100 including World Vision, Blinds.com, cPanel, and ZillionTV – feature their interactive videos on their Web sites and blogs, as well as on many social networking sites, and in standard media buys on major and niche sites alike. His only caveat is that it has to be a site that accepts an embed code; without the associated video player, videos revert back to the passive, one-sided files they once were.
While this should mean that marketers can't use Veeple's interactive solution for videos they hope to place on YouTube and similar video sharing sites (as such sites require raw video footage for use in their own players), Broomfield and his crew have found a way around this.
He tenders an example of a lengthy documentary-style video created about Jaycee Dugard, the kidnapped child who was finally located last year. A shortened, non-interactive version of the video was placed on YouTube, along with a link to the full, interactive version hosted at a dedicated URL. Out of 19,000 YouTube viewers who watched the video, about 25 percent went on to view the interactive version, with a CTR (define) of nearly 12 percent on the links to the Jaycee Fund, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and PDF download spots.
When asked why the adoption of clickable video has been so slow, Broomfield cited an assumption made by both marketers and consumers that video must be passive.
"We have to change their mindset," he said. "Everyone is used to sitting and staring at video, and we have to get them over this hurdle and show them that consumers will lean in and engage with videos that are interactive."
Access to Veeple's solution is offered for a sliding monthly fee based on impression volume.
The immediate value of Veeple lies in the flexibility that it offers many digital marketers, but the company believes the real power of interactive video will ultimately be in incorporating the concept into video scripts during initial development. For instance, videos could feature a host who invites the viewer to click for more information.
Both approaches have merit; the point is simply that video-made interactive helps to engage viewers. Veeple has seen it deliver CTRs of up to 22 percent. If those numbers don't jump-start the use of clickable video technology, I don't know what will.
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Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.
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