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The video revolution in eCommerce is finally underway

Over the past year, as I’ve spoken at various industry events and trade shows, I’ve felt very ‘lonely’ as I have evangelized the power (and potential) for video in eCommerce. There are two key things that have fueled this belief for me. First, as part of Adobe, I have seen the voracious consumer appetite for web video outside eCommerce - largely media and social networking sites. comScore has been tracking this growth throughout 2008 – noting that in July, 134 million Americans watched 11.4 billion videos… or more than 2 videos per user, per day. This represented 75% of the US Internet population watching video! 6.5 million Americans also watched mobile video in August. comScore’s data shows this isn’t a US-only phenomenon either – more than 25 million people in France watched more than 2 billion videos in September… 26 million Germans watched 219 million hours of web video in August (118 videos per viewer)… and 27 million people in the UK watched more than 3 billion videos in August. Consumers love web video – a lot. Second, through my Scene7 imaging experience, I’ve learned the old adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ rings very true in eCommerce. So what is a moving picture (a.k.a. video) worth?

It is obvious how video benefits ‘hardgoods’ categories ala appliances and consumer electronics to demonstrate and review a product; but can video help in any category? I am starting to conclude that it can. One of my favorite videos is on the Littlewoods UK site – a major player in the apparel market. They are an early innovator in video and have gotten ahead of the pack in eCommerce – I think they have more than 1,500 videos at this point, maybe more, many of which they’ve invested to produce themselves. So, check out this video on Littlewoods.com.

Every time I watch this video, I go back to the product page and feel like it pales in comparison to the ‘selling’ that happens in the video. First, the spokesperson has a great personality to convey the ‘fun’ of the brand – and she is very crafty in conveying the utility of the dress, the types of occasions one would wear it, how it would fit, what body types would benefit, etc. It is nearly impossible to get all that information across – in a mere 30 seconds – in any other format. And, did I mention consumers prefer watching video to start off with…?

Not into dresses? If you are a skiing enthusiast – watch this Cloudveil video. The clip shows extreme skiing interspersed with demos of key product features (entertainment and selling). These videos were all internally produced, keeping the quality high but production costs low. I used to think you had to keep your clip under a minute – but when it comes to talking to a targeted audience – in this case, skiing enthusiasts – three minutes of content actually works quite nicely.

Clearly, our industry (eCommerce) has really lagged this consumer trend (opportunity). I’ve been a bit surprised not to see more progress sooner as leading etailers look for the next big conversion and customer experience opportunity. However, I picked up on a research study from eMarketer yesterday that made me think “perhaps the revolution is finally underway.” eMarketer surveyed retailer intentions on new innovations – and adding “video or streaming media” has flown to the top of the list – even ahead of some real stalwarts like reviews and improved search! It would appear those retailers who have been dabbling in video – now have religion – and a strong intention to really make this ‘the next big thing’ to better serve their customers. The link to the study: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1006883

This move from "dabbling" to "top intended new capability" is exciting for the industry and the consumer. By no coincidence – with my strong belief in video – we at Adobe Scene7 will play a major role to enable (and ease the implementation of) the video revolution in eCommerce. Coincidental with the eMarketer release, we put out this announcement yesterday ourselves: http://www.scene7.com/news/2009/20090126.asp

As Adobe has established a great standard in web video with Flash video – delivering a very elegant and high quality experience for the consumer - and as Scene7 has similarly become the de facto platform for publishing and delivery of images to eCommerce sites, this very much felt like one of those ‘peanut butter meets chocolate’ moments when we became part of Adobe in 2007 and put together our joint product plans to add Flash video publishing. It is really something seeing it all come to reality with consumers, retailers and suppliers all converging on this great opportunity. I can’t wait to watch more moving pictures.

As you think about your video strategy, drop me questions in the comment box and I’ll either respond in the comments or email you back.

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Doug, Cloudveil videos are fantastic. Skiing the Grand – wow! Right on! Jay

Excellent article Doug and right on the money. Look forward to the next article.

Thanks Jim.

Great article! I agree that video is an emerging tool that e-comm companies can use to truly get an “in store” feel while shopping on the web. We are now in our 3rd year of shooting product videos with multiple manufacturers. While the cost is obviously higher than standard still photography the conversion numbers and ability to upload on Youtube.com and other popular social networking sites pays off.

Example: http://www.motorcycle-superstore.com/1/1/39/6528/ITEM/Icon-Accelerant-Jacket.aspx

Hi Doug – very good discussion about video. I agree with you. Its only a matter of time – the innovaters will drive this take-up of video!

Great blog. I totally agree with you about video and ecommerce. As a content producer (in the music and sound realm mostly) I’ve been steering my clients down the path of branded content marketing methods.

Content (such as video, or music) is becoming the message, instead of the thing that draws the audience to the message. Even your blog is a clever example of this.

John Schulte

Hi Doug,

Great article – seems like video’s definitely something to consider – more so since Scene7 will be providing the “plumbing” for it.

I think part of the challenge/barrier, aside from production of course, is efficient delivery systems – i.e. I don’t think video streaming servers ever made part of my “to do”, evaluate nor obtain list. Then there everything else needed to support it.

Now that supporting such in-house is “out of the way”….hmmm, you got me thinking! Thanks!

BTW, congratulations on this blog!

Thanks Doug,

As some have already pointed out, I would love to know how companies are doing this in a cost effective manner.

I would also be interested in seeing some case studies on the lift from using video over images.


Thanks for all the great comments. As there have been some questions on the cost effective implementation – I’ll make that a topic for a future entry.

Because we do not do a lot of aggressive online marketing I was very impressed and excited about what Littlewood was doing. The implications are mind boggling. There is no question that this is where our company needs to go.
I am looking for information on the platform Littlewood is using for it’s web store. Is the company willing to talk about what it is doing. Are there any platforms that won’t accommodate video e-commerce?
Any feedback would be welcome.

Kim vanderhyden

Hi Doug,

Interesting article, I think video is the way forward for online retailing. We have just finished a site for a new client that uses video, photography and flash – the client imports stone but didn’t want a showroom, just a website. There are over 80 film clips showing everything from the product to the production process, filmed all across Europe. In terms of cost it is a trade off between creating the site and renting, designing and staffing a showroom so the website is far cheaper. I’d be interested to hear what you think http://www.garethdaviesstone.com
Thanks,Henry Wilks

Thanks Doug, interesting article. I think your comments are extremely timely and are very accurate according to what I have read as well. We are not only going to see video become more relevant, but also “real-time connections”. There is a technology shift occuring in the home phone industry with the introduction of the Video Phone and I think this real-time connection will eventually translate over to the business world – once someone figures out how to integrate it. (I just bought Video Phones for my family who are out of state – it’s an amazing experience being able to see the person you are talking to).

This is often one in all the best blog posts that I’ve possibly ever read. It’s like a well-written paper. Your topic has relevancy, you’ve broken the topics down logically.

Excellent job.

very useful Doug, we have been using video on our site for years now and appreciate the depth you bring on Cloudville – great article & thanks


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