Monday, September 22, 2014

Online Video Personalization - Why is it becoming So important?

All of us have heard the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” But according to Dr. James Mcquivey of Forrester research, a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. I am not aware of the exact math Dr. Mcquivey used for his conclusion but through experience we know that video does leave a lasting impression.

In the last few years we have seen an unprecedented growth in online video. According to Cisco, 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video. And there are other cool things we keep hearing about video:
·         Web pages with video are 53 times more likely to appear on first page of Google.
·         52% of marketers say that online video has “among the best ROI.”
·         Visitors who view videos are 2 times more likely to purchase.
·         Every survey will tell you that there is a significant increase in digital video production budgets
·         10% of all video viewing in 2013 was online. And more and more people are using mobile and tablets to watch videos and for longer duration.

But there are enough challenges for most of the companies in the video space:
·         They don’t really understand how video contributes to sales in quantifiable way. It makes it more difficult to understand impact of video on sales if you are also a brick-and-mortar retailer i.e. you have some kind of Omni-Channel strategy
·         Most of them have very little idea about how many online videos should be produced every year. There is no quantifiable rationale behind those decisions.
·         Online video still has challenges of volume as it relates to professional grade content
·         It is not well understood how to target videos – basically personalization of videos. Basically, using data to identify the consumer and serving the relevant video based on context. Though, we understand at a high level at the viewing habits of large set of people but most of us remain clueless about viewing habit of individual users.

Personalization of online video is a big opportunity for online retailers from a sales and marketing perspective. It should be a big part of their overall personalization strategy. They need to work to tie their audience profiles and context to their video inventory through the help of analytics. A targeted video has all the benefits of personalized content but in addition to that it increases the engagement time. It has more probability of influencing a potential customer to buy from you than any other type of content on your website. It is also more economical to target videos through online channel. On top of that, video always has the potential to go viral.

Personalization of online videos should also take the customer/prospect journey into account. If the prospect is just considering your product/services then you should target a product/service video or a case study. For conversion, a presenter led video makes more sense; a training or a customer service video might be appropriate for loyalty purpose for a returning customer.
It is also rare to see web properties recommending videos in a similar way as you see on “Youtube” or watching videos on “Netflix.” Why?
Utilization of video is probably better understood on self-service side when it comes down to “How to” videos. It does help in significant savings in reducing calls to call centers.
Maybe, one of the reason for lack of video personalization strategy is that most of the companies are still trying to figure out the foundational pieces of online video - Basically, things which relate to video management, infrastructure and performance, SEO, video players, e-commerce support, mobile support, responsive design etc..  They are relying on one of the video platform vendors like Brightcove, Ooyala, Adobe/Scene7, Kaltura, KIT digital, Invodo etc. to take care of the foundation pieces. Personalization of video is not generally in the near term roadmap. Most of these vendors do a good job in building foundational framework for you and have their strengths in certain areas. You will have to figure out an evaluation process to choose one of them.
HTML 5 players, for videos, mobile/tablet support and video interactivity are one of the important things happening in online video world. Companies like Adways and Wirewax can offer you great options to integrate with your video platform if you are interested in producing interactive videos.
 But despite these new breed of video vendors available to you, in the end you will have to own your video personalization strategy because it is based on the data you have about your visitors. It will also depend on analytical and machine learning capabilities of your organization. Also, how efficiently, you can make different teams like content production, IT, CRM, creative and analytics work together.
 There are also other types of personalization happening on video front. AT&T tried using a personalized video to explain mobile bills to their customers. It uses the technology developed in its AT&T Foundry innovation center in Ra’anana, Israel.  It will be interesting to see how this trend evolves. We will probably see this kind of personalization being applied in re-targeting of video ads.
 In the end, personalization and analytics driven video strategy is still a distant thought for most of the companies. But companies who are serious about offering the best online experience don’t have all the time in the world to figure out their video personalization strategy. Most of the large companies have all the tools, content, data infrastructure and resources in place. They just need champions, right thought leadership and executive sponsorship to make it happen. Video personalization shouldn’t be an afterthought in your personalization strategy – it should be one of the key drivers.

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