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Saturday, March 30, 2013

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is video worth? Literally.

Guest post from Video and Beyond blog.  

Just over a month ago, Kulin Strimbu of Trip Television asked me to be a guest blogger on Video and Beyond.  She knew that I have a passion for all things related to marrying buyers and sellers (aka distribution in "travel speak").

I have to admit, I didn't know much about video (at least as it relates to distribution) before I started writing for this blog, but in the past month I have gotten a rapid education and I am hooked.

So today, I want to get serious with you about the effectiveness of an integrated video strategy to sell your products and services.   If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is video worth?  Literally.

I grew up in an era of watching Carol Burnett and remember thinking how clever it was that she ended all of her shows by tugging on her ear.  It was her signature and it was her way of acknowledging someone special in her life.

I didn't understand marketing then, but four decades later, in all of my own blogs, I end my tomes with "Stay Tuned".   That signals that the industry that I belong to (travel) is ever changing.

When I took on the guest blog role on Video and Beyond, I encouraged Kulin to do the same and come up with her own "signature line".  That line is "What are you waiting for?".

Well, it is time to cut to the chase.  While we want you to keep coming back and sharing our musing about the topic as regular subscribers to our blog, but as my old friend Timothy O'Neil-Dunne would say, I am gobsmacked (that is British slang for astonished) that the conversion stats alone don't already have you running toward an integrated video marketing strategy.  Kulin's phone should be ringing off the hook right now.

So let's look at the numbers.  I happen to run a number of online travel booking sites (affiliates of the major OTAs).  So, I have some empirical evidence to work with here.

For an organization selling $10 million in annual hotel room sales, to increase conversion by 1% would yield over $38k dollars per month in revenues.   That is $456k per year in incremental revenue.   That is an amazing ROI, even if we only incorporated video for our top selling properties (which most of you know generated the bulk of the revenues for any business).

While your numbers may vary, depending on whether you are working with merchant/wholesale model sales , a retail commission model or whether you are the supplier, if you don't know what every 1% of conversion is worth to you online, run do not walk to your calculator or spreadsheet and figure it out.

-->You are clearly going to have to do your own math, but Invodo says that shoppers who view video are 174% more likely to purchase than viewers who do not.

Did you hear that?   174% more likely to purchase!

I'm going to borrow Kulin's line today and at the same time, I'm tugging on my ear for good measure.

What are you waiting for?

Chicke Fitzgerald
distribution afficianado





Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Exciting Uncertainty At The Intersection Of Content And Commerce



Guest post from Video and Beyond blog.  

This article title was actually one found on TechCrunch today, written by investor and visionary  Mike Jones.   Jones said in the article "Content and commerce have always had a symbiotic relationship that many traditional content providers tried to separate."

While not written about the travel industry, this comment couldn't be more pertinent.

Top travel sites like Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, Orbitz are decidedly focused on commerce and the art of the transaction.  While traditional content (narrative articles and images) are core to what they do, it is actually all about conversion via the booking engine.

Those of us that consult with the investment community on the current state and future direction of the travel industry, know that investors mentally separate the Online Travel Agencies from sites like TripAdvisor (recently separated from Expedia), CondeNast and other content rich sites that are after all, focused primarily on helping consumers with the planning and engagement phase of travel.  These sites include lots of user generated reviews and narrative (both positive and negative) and a lot of images.

Neither type of site has embraced video as a core component of content to further their goals. 

To Jones' comment about uncertainty, Expedia's spin out of TripAdvisor may be the single biggest corroboration of the uncertainty of the intersection of content and commerce in travel.

However, we at Video and Beyond would challenge that the expansion of the very definition of content to include and in fact integrate video and article pairing or video and booking engine pairing may take the uncertainty out of the content and commerce equation altogether.

Video is interesting in that it is emotive and engaging in a way that a photograph just cannot be.   When was the last time you looked at a photo and just on the image alone, decided to go on vacation? 

Video tells a story.   Video engages your audience and most importantly, video sells.

What are you waiting for?



 


Drowning in Content and Complacency


Guest post from Video and Beyond blog. 

For decades we heard the mantra "Content is King".    

Design firms and companies alike, focused their web design and marketing campaigns on ensuring that they had content and lots of it.  


And like one of the tombstones in this Tom Fishburne cartoon,  those that follow this same strategy year after year are destined for the marketing graveyard, where complacent brands go.  


Fishburne says in his blog that there are "three types of companies: rule makers, rule followers, and rule breakers. It’s easy for rule makers and rule followers to get complacent, particularly in industries that have been around for a while". 


Which kind of company are you?


For over three decades, the travel industry has distributed its products electronically on a global basis.  The rule makers set the tone and embraced the "content is king" mantra.  Many became rule followers, thinking the leaders had set the bar high.  But we are in fact largely a commoditized industry, swimming in a sea of same.


Fishburne paints a powerful picture when he talks about watching your progress against your competitors on a chart, which he calls watching the "worm races".  If you are not the rule breaker, you may find yourself in one of those dreaded and never ending races.


It is clear that content is still important, but there is a distinct trend back toward simplicity.  Less words.  More rich media. 


We at Video and Beyond happen to believe that today, relevant video is the highest form of content, but so often is left on the project "to do list", awaiting the elusive funding.


Video is not a project and it is not a fad.  Video engages and it helps you convert the "looker" to the "booker".  In short, video sells.


So I am left wondering, why the travel industry is still producing such content heavy sites - lots of words and images, the majority of the time leading to a booking engine for the sale of commodity products, with price taking the lead?  


Can it be that travelers are intrigued?  With 1% conversion rates as standard online (unless of course you spend millions on consumer branding), I think not.  


Where are the rule breakers?  Let's integrate rich media together.  Let's prove that it intrigues, that it engages and that it sells.  


What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Video Marketing On Ramp - Getting Started



Guest post from Video and Beyond blog.  

So you have been following Video and Beyond now since we launched and you are convinced of the value and ROI potential of integrating video, but you are not yet doing anything with video.

How do you get up to speed?

Well, it is a bit like the freeway on ramp metaphor when you are driving.  

From a complete standstill, it can be a bit daunting to enter a freeway.  I still remember the first time that I drove on a freeway when I was learning to drive.

At night, it can be downright intimidating if you are completely in the dark and unable to judge the speed of the oncoming cars.

The good news is that the traffic on this particular highway - the travel industry's integrated use of video for marketing and conversion, is not moving quite as fast as you might imagine, so it is not too late to catch up.

There are some key questions that you need to ask yourself.

1.  If you are wanting to use video to reinforce your brand/product/service, but don't have high caliber video of your product (be it a hotel, cruise ship, an attraction or an entire destination),  you need to start by producing video reflecting the experience that a traveler will have with you.   Tell a story.  

2.  If you have video and you want for someone to manage your video for you, so that you can focus on your core business, you need to find a company that can manage your library of rich media (including stills and even written narrative).  That way, anyone that wants to display your video would provide it to them in the right format, with the ability to publish your video in multiple formats for PC, tablet, mobile and even IP TV and cable.

3.  If you have video, but you want to play it on more than just your own website, you need to work with a firm that does video distribution.  It is possible in this scenario to actually make money on distributing your existing video library through revenue sharing on advertising, versus paying to promote your product.  This is not a requirement for a distribution agreement, but it provides a way to monetize your content, as well as helping people learn about your product/service.

Bottom line?  Put your foot on the accelerator.  Set your sights on the integrated digital highway, using video as your vehicle.  We promise you will see results!

Video sells.

What are you waiting for?

EDITORIAL NOTE:  

We work hard to ensure that this blog is not a commercial, but we would be totally remiss if we didn't point out that Trip Television provides production services, rich media management and also video distribution.   If you need help accelerating using integrated video, we can help.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Best Content Marketing Tactic - ROI



Guest post from Video and Beyond blog.  



In their recent article entitled"Which Content Marketing Tactics Get the Best ROI?", eMarketer outlined the top content elements.  Not surprising to us, video came in second, to featured articles. 

Click image to read full eMarketer article
The article begins "In an environment in which consumers’ attention is increasingly fragmented, the idea of using content to capture interest and engagement is catching on amongst marketers."    Since short attention span was the focus of our blog yesterday, this really resonated with me, so I had to write about eMarketer's results.

Their opening salvo begs the question, how did we capture interest and engagement before? 

As I look at their list, I think it is clear that most of these elements have been in use in some form of media for decades.

I'm convinced that there is very little that is new under the sun.  We just get smarter about how to use what we already have.  And of course, we continually have new delivery mechanisms and that is the shiny new object aspect.  Clearly using video on a TV or even a PC is less sexy today than its use on an iPad or a smart phone.

The article points out that content tells a story and in that regard, there is truly nothing better than video.

If a picture tells a thousand words, then by eMarketer's standards, then video tells its story 14.1% better! 



Better ROI comes from higher engagement.  Video engages.  Video sells.

What are you waiting for?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Late to the Video Marketing Party?


Guest post from Video and Beyond blog.  


Being late to the party is not always a bad thing.

Those of us that are innovators know that when you are first, there is a lot of learning that has to happen to get it right and the price for that can be very high.  There is a reason that the early pioneers got arrow in their backs for their efforts and that entrepreneurs often talk about the blood, sweat and tears experienced along their innovation journey.

Innovators set the stage for those that will follow, learning the painful lessons and establishing best practice for their peers.

In this cartoon by Tim Cordell, we are faced with a gentleman that is musing about being late to the party - presumably a pattern for him based on his remarks.

The video he is viewing has already had nearly 200,000 views.  We don't know from looking at him whether he is upset because he wanted to be the one to find (or better yet, produce) that amazing viral video, or whether he stumbled on it after working til midnight, inventing the next big thing.  In either event, his comments indicate he feels like he is a laggard.

The travel industry as a whole were key innovators in the digital marketing arena.  I would even argue that we invented e-commerce, selling travel products electronically on a global scale as early as the 80s.  At least this was the premise for my first book, eCommerce Pioneers - the History of Global Travel Distribution.

As you look at the Technology Adoption Lifecycle popularized by Geoffery Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm, it is easy to see that as an industry, we were one of the first to cross this particular "Chasm".   We are now moving headlong into widespread adoption of not only e-commerce, but many companies in our industry are also aggressively pushing the envelope on the mobile platform.  We are seeing use by not only the early majority, but also the late majority.  Only the laggards hold onto their flip phones, seeing their lack of adoption of a smart phone as a badge of courage.

We now face an interesting anomaly.  The same companies that led us across the digital marketing chasm and the e-commerce chasm, including those who are showing us best practice in mobile marketing are somewhat "fashionably late" to the integrated video marketing party.

As you look at the top sites in most every category within travel, video is conspicuously absent. 

Digital marketers instinctively know that rich media is valuable, yet we don't see widespread use of this particular asset.  Perhaps they think it is too complex or too expensive.

We know that video inspires, it educates and yes, it even increases sales.

So rather than fearing this chasm, I encourage you to stick with us on Video and Beyond and learn how to take your marketing to the next level - moving past early adopters to the mass market, increasing conversions with every step of the way.

In the coming weeks and months, Kulin Strimbu (with the occasional guest post from yours truly) will be covering the basics of video (things like commonly used terminology and debunking the myths), to some of the more sophisticated uses of your video assets, such as syndication or monetizing through associated display of your content on media sites. 

Take time to subscribe to this blog and if you have questions or recommendations of companies that are demonstrating leadership and innovation in the integrated use of video in their digital marketing strategies, please use the comment section and we promise to respond.

When it comes to video marketing, are you late to the party?  Not to worry!  This party will be going on for a very long time.   Fun will be had by all.

Video sells.  What are you waiting for?
















Friday, March 08, 2013

Who is the biggest GDS? #2 Blog of all time. Really?

I have just taken a look at the stats for the top 10 posts of all time on my blog.  Actually, one of my favorites is the #1 post - To Delta Airlines:  I would have built the website for $80 million.

But what surprises me is that "Who is the biggest GDS?" is the #2 post.   And of late, it is the #1 post every day.  It makes we want to write an update.  Well, sort of.....   

Is anyone really interested in reading an update to that post?  If I get some comments asking for it, I may do the research and write the blog.

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