Online Video Finds Local Search

Local search and advertising options continue to explode. Ad options include keywords, category or heading buys, and now online video. So how should local business and national advertisers selling locally think about incorporating video and video search into their ad arsenals?

Let's take a look at the stats:

The Kelsey Group's User View study revealed 59 percent of those surveyed said they watch online video, and more than half state they engage in some sort of response activity, such as visiting a Web site, going to a physical location, or making a purchase. The study's findings are highlighted in a report by The Kelsey Group, "Online Video: A New Local Advertising Paradigm."

Online Video Ad spending is projected to be near $2.1 billion by 2009, according to eMarketer. This has certainly gotten the attention of local search publishers, including the Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) and local newspaper publishers. Search Engine Watch covered some of the local video offerings of the IYPs.

Online Video Drives Engagement

Like any other sound marketing decision, determine whether an online video will help you accomplish the primary marketing objective of creating or highlighting your unique selling proposition (USP) in order to increase lead generation and sales.

A good example of the potential of online video: a restaurant might show potential customers their dining room ambience and marquee menu items. Even so, while the upside for hospitality venues seems obvious, service-based businesses, such as plumbers and electricians, may not benefit as readily.

Calling Steven Spielberg?

Video production service can often be purchased from the Web site that will post your ad (for a fee). Certainly if you've already made a video commercial for cable or local TV, repurposing all or part of the commercial can produce a high quality online video.

Two things to consider:

  1. Local searchers are seeking where-to-buy information. When repurposing an existing commercial, consider if the goal is to inform and persuade or build a brand. In the case of the latter, consider creating a video spot that's more direct response focused.
  2. If you use professional talent/actors in the spot, secure the rights to use their images for online purposes. Just because you purchased the commercial spot for TV doesn't always mean you can automatically use the spot online.

If you're starting from scratch, the entry-level solution is to develop a video from digital still images of your business and/or products. Production companies can often use techniques such as pan, zoom, and dissolve, to create the illusion of movement from your digital photos. With the addition of a voice-over to the mix, you can create a low-cost, professional quality video (example).

The next level solution: a custom created video. A production company comes to your location, works with you to create a script, and shoots a custom video on site or in a professional production studio.

There are many production options available to local businesses. Search for "online video production" in your area and review the available local resources. Review a number of projects the candidates have produced. Ask merchants about their experiences with the companies under consideration. Then, select your best resource.

Here are a few sources:

• Innovate Media

• Turn Here

• Ad Fare

Search for Production Quality

Just a word on production quality; remember we've all grown up in the video era (MTV, VH1, etc.), and as a result, the quality of your video needs to be at least as good as a segment on the six o'clock news. Otherwise, you risk creating a negative perception around your brand or company, "Wayne's World" works in local access cable TV, but not for a company's online video; "party on" Garth.

Where To Post Your Online Video

The big names in online video postings include YouTube, MySpace, and AOL Video. However, these sites are more suited to non-commercial video and, as a result, are more entertainment-focused and present a different type of opportunity (read "viral").

There are a host of locally-targeted Web sites that now offer video placements as part of their local search products. Some of the Internet Yellow Pages sites offering this video ad component include Citysearch, Superpages, and Yellowpages.com.

Additionally, many local newspaper Web sites offer local merchants the ability to highlight their products/services via online video placements. Video ad placements range in price from $875 to $50,000 annual costs, depending on Web site and traffic.

Demand For Online Video

When asked about the effectiveness of video placements, Don Williams, National Sales Manager from Citysearch, said: "Citysearch users are engaged with video, more than any other element on the profile page, when making a decision about choosing a business. It is the most effective method of advertising as it gives the user an inside look at the business."

While it's still early going for local online video, now is the perfect time to test its effectiveness in your local search marketing-driven ad campaigns. Costs are still relatively low and online searchers are seeking this ad enhancement out when making local purchase decisions.