Virtual Spokesperson Promotes HowStuffWorks Site

HowStuffWorks has added rich media spokespeople in a push to drive visitors to its StuffGuide.com buying site.

Visitors to commercially relevant areas of HowStuffWorks.com, such as the digital camera information area, will be greeted with a Flash-based, borderless streaming video overlay of a woman at the bottom of the screen, talking about the digital camera resources available at the new StuffGuide.com site. The technology for the spokesperson, called BlueStream, was provided by Rovion.

“You can see here that it’s being used in a truly contextual manner,” Len Ostroff, Rovion’s CEO, told ClickZ News. “When you read an article on HowStuffWorks about how digital cameras work, up comes the video that talks about the benefits of digital SLRs, and guides them to StuffGuide, HowStuffWorks’ e-commerce property.”

The 20-second clip can be paused, muted, or stopped. It is launched by a line of JavaScript on the page, and will not be blocked by most pop-up blockers. Clicking on the video itself will bring a visitor to the StuffGuide site.

According to Greg Swayne, president of HowStuffWorks, the site saw a 12 percent click-through rate during two weeks in which the spokesperson appeared in digital camera-related content areas.

“The unique video vignette allowed a seamless and natural navigation for consumers that were educating themselves on the category of digital cameras on HowStuffWorks.com over to StuffGuide.com to get additional decision-making information such as detailed buying guides, product reviews, helpful tips and comparison shopping tools,” Swayne said.

The company plans to add the BlueStream technology to promote other products in coming months.

In past applications, BlueStream technology has been used to promote the NBA finals on NBA.com, to launch a new cable channel on TVguide.com, and in a Mother’s Day promotion on the Discovery Store. “It’s been used for a number of applications that are personality-driven,” Ostroff said.

A similar Flash-based “green screen” video application was used by Renegade Marketing for a Panasonic plasma TV promotion in June.

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