Five hours a day. Some of us barely sleep that many hours, but for the average consumer, that’s how much time is spent in front of video content daily.
That makes a clear statement about the direction in which communication is heading: into a realm of movement and sound, rather than the silent rhythms of words and phrases; into a realm where rules of grammar need not apply, where “there,” “their” and “they’re” all mean the same thing.
More importantly, it’s a realm where the ever-shortening consumer attention span can find bite-sized information and entertainment to snack on.
TVPage CEO and founder Allon Caidar said experiments have shown that the attention span of a goldfish is only around nine seconds long. Sad, you might say. Laughable. The poor goldfish has certainly been the butt of many a short-term memory joke over the years. Yet, according to research, the average consumer’s attention span clocks in even lower, at just 8.25 seconds. The only thing that keeps eyes on a web page longer, said Caidar, is video, which holds a consumer’s attention for 30, 60 and even 90 seconds at a time.
YouTube and Facebook are some of the most trafficked sites on the web — with one dedicated solely to video content and the other deliberately moving in that direction, as indicated by the new Facebook Watch feature and in statements by CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the company’s new video-first strategy.
In advertising, one must speak the language of the target market, and today that market is clearly speaking video. Ad targeting has been a popular way of tapping into the trend, and while it certainly delivers better results than just randomly serving ads in as many locations as possible, Caidar sees another way to leverage video to increase click-through rates and thus drive sales: interactive video commerce.
It is this experience that TVPage endeavors to help websites deliver to consumers as they try to grow their eCommerce sales. Caidar says it’s a new shopping pattern and a new path to purchase tailored to the emerging video culture.
“Brands know they need a video strategy to speak with consumers in the medium they’ve chosen to communicate with,” Caidar said. “Merchants illuminate the site by adding video content.”
Here’s How It Works, from the Consumer’s Side
Imagine a musician is in the market for a new guitar. He heads to the Taylor Guitars website to browse. As he arrives on the home page, he is served a video — but this isn’t just a retail ad. It’s more of a “getting to know you” video that helps him get acquainted with one of the product options that are available.
There’s a high element of education involved, said Caidar, so the musician isn’t just being told to buy a thing; he is given the information he needs to make an informed purchase decision, in a language that makes his shopping research feel a lot less like research.
If he likes the guitar in the interactive video, the musician can buy one by clicking one of the product links alongside the video window. The part where he navigates to the product page to place an order gets cut out completely, said Caidar; why waste his time if he already knows what he wants? Instead, he can submit payment after the first click, as the video creates a direct pipeline into the cart.
Alternatively, maybe the home page video didn’t resonate, or the musician just wants to do more research before making up his mind. As he navigates the site, each product page he visits will serve up a relevant video to help him get acquainted with that guitar. When he’s ready, the same pipeline to purchase will be in place for him to follow.
Taylor Guitars was the latest retail brand to introduce interactive community videos with TVPage.
How It Works, from the Brand Side
Caidar said the key that makes the whole system work is linking videos to products in an intelligent manner. Machine learning pulls data from titles, descriptions, auto-generated transcripts and objects in images that get translated into text. That data is then used to connect videos to the appropriate product or products to ensure that the customer is clicking through to the same item he saw in the video.
To power targeting, the recommendation engine also pulls in data on the user’s watching habits, either from previous visits to the company’s website or from activity on other marketing channels, like Facebook and YouTube.
The videos themselves come from four different sources, Caidar said, all of which undergo a moderation process before being served to users.
Some videos are indeed produced by the company itself via an in-house agency. These are often lifestyle content that’s relevant to the product or brand that helps get customers excited, even if they’re not direct advertisements for specific items.
Other videos come from third-party brands whose products are carried on the site — think companies like Staples or Toys R Us, which carry stock from a variety of brands. Those brands produce videos of their own, and they can be invited to push content into the larger website’s video engine.
User videos may be pulled from social platforms, wherever content that features the product is publicly available. Finally, some videos are submitted directly to the site by users, such as reviewers and influencers.
Caidar said user-generated content serves the dual purpose of not only promoting products, but also getting musicians more deeply enmeshed in the brand community. They feel they aren’t just having products pushed on them, but are hearing from other artists who liked those products — similar to an opening act getting a guitar recommendation from the headliner.
“Video is the closest thing to human touch that you can get digitally,” Caidar said. “It’s the digital equivalent of having a salesperson in front of you. The consumer gets much more educated and sold on the product.”
Data collected around videos viewed and products purchased can be used to fuel marketing channels, Caidar said, so that brands can attract new customers rather than just better serving those who are already on the site.
It’s not just Taylor Guitars and TVPage. Facebook has started to adopt a similar approach with its collection ad unit, enabling users to buy directly from videos. Click-through rates to products from social platforms are at 20 percent, said Caidar: It’s the digital version of candy bars in the checkout lane.
Today, he noted, only 1 to 2 percent of visitors to eCommerce sites convert to a sale, so there’s plenty of room for this strategy to grow, and it has almost nowhere to go but up.
“There’s a huge opportunity to convert the other 98 percent into a sale by tapping into consumers’ short attention span[s] and impulsive nature[s],” said Caidar.