The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

YouTube Ranking Factors: Additional Factors That Can Increase Your Rankings, My Guest Post on ReelSEO


YouTube Ranking Factors and Going Beyond Titles and Tags
As some of you know, I covered Search Engine Strategies New York (SES NY) a few weeks ago via twitter and blogging. Each year, one of my favorite sessions at SES is Video SEO. Since I have a lot of experience with video seo projects, I enjoy hearing from the panelists and comparing their advice to my own findings. This year, Greg Markel from Infuse Creative focused on YouTube ranking factors. Greg knows his stuff and his past presentations were top notch. This year was no different. In addition, Matthew Liu from YouTube was part of the session, so it was interesting to watch Matthew's reaction as Greg made his case. :)

Going beyond views, titles, and tags...
Whenever you discuss optimizing YouTube videos, most people think about titles, descriptions and tags. But as Greg pointed out, that's only part of the equation. There are many other factors that can impact your rankings on YouTube, including several community factors. This actually makes complete sense when you break it down. For example, views, ratings, comments, channel views, subscribers, age of video, inbound links, etc. Needless to say, this intrigued me...

So based on Greg's presentation and my obsession with testing everything in online marketing, I decided to take a closer look at the factors that contribute to YouTube rankings. That's when I decided to visit YouTube and conduct some research. To learn what I found, you'll have to hop over to ReelSEO and read my guest post! :) The only thing I'll say here is that I believe Greg is on to something...

GG

PS I'd love to hear your feedback. How are your YouTube videos ranking? Have you analyzed your competition on YouTube? Definitely feel free to post a comment on ReelSEO or just post it here. Now check out my guest post! :)

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

My 2 Part Video SEO Series on ReelSEO, Using SWFObject 2.1 With Flash Video


Glenn Gabe's Guest Post on ReelSEOIf you’ve read my blog before, they you know I’m passionate about online video, video SEO, and how interactive video can be used for marketing and advertising. When it comes to video search resources, I’ve been a big fan of ReelSEO for a long time. They provide excellent coverage of the space and have a wealth of experience with video search. Needless to say, I was excited when they approached me about writing a guest post for the site.

My two part series went live this week and it covers providing alternative html content for your flash video projects using SWFObject 2.1. Please check out my posts below and I recommend subscribing to ReelSEO. I’ll also be writing more posts for ReelSEO in the future and I'll make sure to notify you here on my blog when they go live.

My 2 Part Series on SWFObject 2.1 for ReelSEO:
Video SEO Tip: Using SWFObject 2.1 to Provide Alternative HTML Content (Part 1 of 2


Video SEO Tutorial - Using SWFObject 2.1 to Provide Alternative HTML Content (Part 2 of 2)

GG

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

YouTube Insight, How to Optimize and Enhance Your Online Videos Using Analytics


YouTube Insight, Optimizing Your Video Clips Using AnalyticsToday I get to write about two of my favorite things, Web Analytics and Online Video. Lucky me! Given that YouTube just surpassed Yahoo as the #2 search engine, I think it’s safe to say that many of you probably visit YouTube regularly to watch videos online. In addition, I know some of you are taking the next step and producing your own videos to share with the world. That covers watching, producing, and sharing, but there’s another concept I wanted to introduce today, and that’s optimization. Did you know that YouTube gives you access to a video analytics package free of charge, right in your YouTube account? It’s called YouTube Insight and it gives you the ability to constantly glean insights from your video clips and viewers. Video producers that use Insight already know its power, but I still think many people don’t know what to do with it, or more importantly, how to optimize their videos using the data provided by Insight. If you’ve read my blog before, then you know how I feel about the importance of web analytics. Well, this is simply an extension of web analytics, but specifically for your own YouTube video clips. Let’s dig in.

What is YouTube Insight?
YouTube Insight is a video analytics tool that provides you with valuable information about your video clips (and your viewers). Insight gives you several reports, including views, popularity, discovery (how people find your videos), and a new piece of functionality called hotspots. Insight Hotspots enable you see which parts of your video are hot (higher engagement) and which parts are cold (less interest and engagement). I will explain more about hotspots below.

Improving Your YouTube Videos with Insight
Let’s face it, producing videos is darn time consuming. I began shooting and editing video in 1995 and one thing I learned very quickly was that producing a video is not easy and takes a lot of time. So, if you are going to spend the time to brainstorm, script, shoot, edit, and publish videos for YouTube, then you are probably going to want to know what works and what doesn’t. For example, which videos are more engaging, which garner most of your views, how popular were they compared to other videos, which parts of the video were more engaging, etc. You want to know this information so you don’t waste valuable time in the future.

Accessing YouTube Insight
You can access Insight in a few different ways once you have logged in. First, you can access your Insight Dashboard by clicking the Account link in the top right of your screen. Then you can click YouTube Insight from the Performance and Data Tools section located near the bottom of the page (left side).

First Click Your Account Link, Then Click YouTube Insight on Your Account Page:
YouTube Account Link

YouTube Insight Link

The second way to access Insight is by entering the My Videos Page (Uploaded Videos) and clicking the Insight button (for each video). The button for Insight is below the video information and is next to Audio Swap.

YouTube Insight Button Located on My Videos Page:
YouTube Insight Button

Insight Dashboard (a snapshot of all videos)
Your Insight Dashboard functions just like a dashboard in any web analytics package and gives you an aggregate view of your videos (your channel). For example, your dashboard will show you which videos are most popular, how many views your channel is getting, which geographic regions hold the most viewers, popularity of videos in your channel, demographics of your viewers, etc. It’s a great way to get an overall view of how your channel is performing. That said, you really should drill into each video to gain the most valuable information… Aggregate data at the channel level doesn’t really give you actionable information.

Tip: When you are ready to analyze a specific video, you can either click its name in the Views tab of your Insight Dashboard or you can go to your My Videos Page and click the Insight button under each video clip. If you always want to begin by analyzing specific videos, then you might start your visit by accessing the My Videos Page instead of the dashboard.

Visits
You can click the Visits tab to see the number of visits each video received in all countries, or in specific regions. You can change the timeframe on the graph and you can choose a specific country from the dropdown on the right. Then, let’s say you choose the United States, you can click on specific states to see your visits per state. To change the date range, you can click the Zoom links in the top of the graph for 1 day, 5 days, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, or Max. Or, you can use the slider below the graph to quickly change the date range of your report.


YouTube Insight Views:
YouTube Insights Views

Popularity
Insight also gives you the option of seeing how popular your videos are compared to other videos in the selected region during that timeframe. Just like with visits, you can click a country on the map to target that region, or you can drill into a region to get more granular. For example, you can click a state in the US to see the popularity within that state. You can also click specific countries within a region like Turkey within the Middle East or China within Asia.

YouTube Insight Popularity:
YouTube Insights Popularity

Discovery (or Traffic Sources)
OK, who else is addicted to checking traffic sources for their website in their web analytics package? It’s hard not be, right? The Discovery tab provides the traffic sources for your video clips. I love it. In a nutshell, it's how people found your video. There are five links within this section and they include:

YouTube Search, or which keywords people are entering to find your videos on YouTube.
Related Videos, or other videos on YouTube where your video thumbnail showed up as a related video and people clicked that thumbnail to get to your video.
Embedded Player, or which sites have embedded your video clip (using the embed code in YouTube).
External Links, or websites that link to your video clip (AKA referring sites).
Google Search, or keywords people are entering in Google to find your video clips.
Google Video, or keywords that people are entering on Google Video to find your video clips.
Other, or links to your video where there is no referring URL (AKA Direct Traffic). This might be a person emailing the link to someone else, IM’ing the link, etc.
YouTube Other, or other pages on YouTube that are linking to your video clips (not related videos).

YouTube Insight Discovery:
YouTube Insights Dicovery

Demographics
Insight provides some basic data regarding the demographics of your viewers. For example, you can see the age range and gender for viewers. In addition, you can click on a specific gender to see the age range within that gender. So, you can click Female and see the age range of your female viewers. {Marketers, can you say Test Group?} More on this later.

YouTube Insight Demographics:
YouTube Insight Demographics

New Addition: Insight Hotspots (and Coldspots)
YouTube just recently made this feature available. Using Insight Hotspots, you can see which parts of your video are more engaging (or less engaging) as compared to other videos of similar length. As the video plays in Insight, there is a graph on the left side of the screen that displays whether that segment of video was hot or cold. If it’s hot, fewer people are leaving your video at that point, or even rewinding the video to see that part again. If it’s cold, more people are skipping that segment or leaving the video at that point. I’ll explain more below about how to use this feature to enhance your videos, but needless to say, it’s an outstanding addition.

YouTube Insight Hotspots:
YouTube Insights Hotspots

This All Sounds Great Glenn, But How Do I Use Insight To Optimize My Videos?
Just like web analytics, having the data available is one thing, but using the data to enhance your efforts is another. Don’t fear! I’ll explain some basic things you can do in order to glean insights from your reporting to optimize your future videos.

1. Your Ad Hoc Focus Group
Companies spend a lot of money testing their creative to understand what will engage targeted viewers. Well, you can use Insight Hotspots to see what is working in your videos and what isn’t, and for free! You can see which parts of your video people like (rewind and watch again) versus don’t like (they skip through or exit the video). For example, you might find that physical stunts are extremely hot where dialogue is cold. Or you might test a few different versions of a video to see which angles yield the highest engagement. Does humor work, action, or a combination of both? Using Insight Hotspots, you can begin to take guesswork out of the equation and make decisions based on data (which is always a smart move!)

2. Using Insight For Keyword Research
I spend a lot of time talking about the importance of Keyword Research for SEO. It’s an incredibly important process to go through in order to optimize your website based on what people ACTUALLY search for (versus what you think they search for). With Insight, you have access to YouTube searches that lead to your videos, Google searches that lead to your videos, and Google Video searches that lead to your videos (and all for free). By analyzing these keywords, you can start to understand the ways in which people search for different types of content and then you can use that information to optimize future videos (and the text content you provide for those videos like your descriptions, tagging, titles, etc.) For example, are people searching for a category, a specific product, do they enter questions or is it by major keyword?

3. See Which Videos Spike Quickly Versus Providing Sustained Visitors
You might find that an entertaining video has a spike in visitors and then fizzles out, where an educational video builds traffic over time and constantly drives viewers your way. Since you can view visits trended over time, then you can start to get a feel for the lifecycle of specific videos. The more you know about the different types of content you produce, the more you can tailor future content to meet your specific needs (or the needs of your clients).

4. Understand Related Videos That Drive Viewers To Your Video Clips
You can start to learn which types of videos are considered “related” and which videos drive the most viewers. The more you understand the videos that drive people to your own clips, the more you can target future content to that target audience. For example, maybe you had a lot of visitors from How-To videos. You might use this angle in the future to make sure you show up there again, or to capture that traffic from the start...

5. Learn Which Websites Link To Your Video (Referring Sites)
Checking your external links, you can see which websites are linking to your video clips on YouTube. From an SEO standpoint, this provides a great opportunity for link-building. For example, if a site in your industry is linking to your YouTube clips, then maybe they would want to link to your website as well. Links are the lifeblood of SEO and finding topical and relevant link opportunities is extremely important. Note, you can’t see specific URL’s in Insight…you only get domain information, which is a little frustrating. That said, you can probably track down the specific webpage by doing a site command in Google. :)

6. Find Out Which Video Clips Go Viral
If you see a lot of viewers from “Other” in your discovery report (direct traffic), then that’s probably from email, IM, etc. Basically, someone sent around the link for your video to their friends, coworkers, etc. If you had a high percentage of viewers from Direct Traffic, then you might have found something that gets people talking. You can follow this path and test out future videos using similar types of content.

7. See Which Geographic Regions Watch Your Videos (Countries And States)
Are your videos more popular within certain countries or regions? Why were they more popular? For example, did you get a lot of traffic from New York when you shot a video in Times Square? Did you get a lot of traffic from Massachusetts when you showcased Boston Baked Beans in your video about the Best Ideas for Sunday Dinner? On the flip side, did you get a lot of viewers from Hawaii to a video about Surfing the Web on Your Blackberry? Were they interested in surfing or a Blackberry??

Produce, Upload, Analyze, and Refine
Let’s face it, videos are not easy to create (good videos). They cost money, take a lot of time to produce, and a huge amount of effort to pull off. If an average blog post takes a few hours to brainstorm, write, edit, and publish, then a good video takes 4-5X that at least to brainstorm, script, shoot, edit, publish and share. Given the time commitment involved, I highly recommend using YouTube Insight as your video analytics package to glean insights from your viewers in order to optimize and enhance your future clips. If you don’t, then you’re just flying blind. As you can probably guess, I’m against flying blind and you should be too, especially when someone hands you a free analytics package like YouTube Insight!

GG

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Google Indexes Flash Content (SWF), Some Initial Questions, Concerns, and Findings


Google Indexing Flash Content (SWF)On June 30th, Google announced that it was working with Adobe in order to index flash content and thousands of flash developers around the globe rejoiced! Having developed countless flash applications, I fully know the impact of making sure flash content is crawlable for SEO. Until now, many developers were faced with a big question from marketers (and that question typically came at the end of the project), “How do I make sure our flash content can be indexed by Google?” This was never a comfortable situation for flash developers… Needless to say, the news that Google will index flash content is a big step forward for content providers, marketers, and for the engines. That said, I did have some serious questions and concerns after I heard the news. I understand flash development extremely well and I’m neck deep in SEO, so it was natural for me to start thinking about this from both perspectives.

Over the past few days, I’ve been testing several flash movies and applications across my sites to see how Google has indexed them. Below, I have listed some concerns and questions, based on my experience with flash, SEO, and my research and testing over the past few days. Keep in mind, this is by no means final…I plan to write more about how the search engines index flash content over the next few months. I know this is a dynamic area for search engine optimization.

Questions, Concerns, and Findings About Google Indexing Flash Content:

1. Indexing the Core SWF File (the parent swf)
Based on what Google explained in their communication, it will index the core swf file on the page, but not associate dynamically loaded files (other swfs, xml, etc.) with the original flash file. Now, there are many reasons to load content dynamically and most professional flash developers are using these techniques to keep their content fresh and to maintain a small file size. In addition, Google said that it won’t index FLV files (which are typically loaded on demand into a parent swf), because they don’t contain any text content.

My concern is that best practices may not be used so marketers can get all of their text content into one swf. In addition, loading xml data to keep your content up to date (such as pulling the latest product information from a database) won’t be associated with the parent swf (from an SEO standpoint). So, if developers start to add more and more content into the parent SWF file, then file size can become a real issue. I know bandwidth isn’t as big of a problem as in the past, but the proper way to code multi-section flash applications is to load additional SWF files into the parent SWF. So, get ready for more, “Loading Site” animations. :) I can only hope that Google and the other engines decide to associate externally loaded content with the parent SWF file.

2. Black Hat SEO’s Must Be Chomping at the Bit!
OK, this one hit me right away and concerns me greatly. As a flash developer, you typically display text content on the fly, based on how the user is interacting with your flash movie. For example, you might have movieclips in Flash that only display when someone triggers that feature in your application (i.e. to view the latest products you have). These movieclips aren’t visible until needed. I think you can see where I am going with this… In my tests, Google indexed all of the text content in the parent SWF, including text in movieclips that may never be triggered.

Now, the fact that Google indexed all of the text content is great for white hat SEO’s, but could be extremely dangerous in the hands of a black hat SEO. I fear that some may include dozens of movieclips stuffed with keywords in order to get those terms indexed by Google. In flash, you can basically add code to any object at your disposal. So how will Google decipher what’s real text content versus text content that’s there to game their algorithm? In HTML, you pretty much know if something is hidden. In flash, how do you know if something is really hidden? For example, let’s say you had a product image and some text show up when someone rolled over a small button in the corner of the screen. Let’s say 2% of users realize it’s a button and trigger it. Is that wrong? Is that against the rules? Take that example to the nth degree and you can see why I’m concerned. I’m eager to see how Google combats black hat tactics now that flash is being indexed. And more importantly, will you (as a white hat SEO) become collateral damage if they tweak the algorithm to handle this??

3. Obfuscation and SWFEncrypt
Many flash developers use tools like SWFEncrypt to obfuscate their code. I know, horrible word, right? Try saying that 5 times really fast. :) Obfuscation encrypts your code so other programmers can’t steal it. It bumps up your file size somewhat, but helps you protect what you’ve spent hours writing! My initial concern was that if Google decompiles your flash movies to find text content, what will it do with the your obfuscated code? But I’ll stop there, as Google explained that it won’t be decompiling flash movies. I was happy to hear this… So, programmers of the world, keep obfuscating! ;-)

4. Flash Publishing, Choose your method wisely…
There are several ways to output your flash movie (SWF) in your HTML code. In a nutshell, you can use standard object and embed tags, you can use JavaScript to write out your flash movie, or you can use SWFObject to elegantly provide flash content while providing alternative HTML content. SWFObject has a few different versions that you can use, and one relies on JavaScript and the other is a standards-compliant version that doesn’t rely on JavaScript. So, how will all of these publishing methods impact your flash indexation? I definitely recommend testing each of these methods out on your own sites to gauge their effectiveness. However, Google has already said that it won’t execute some types of JavaScript. So, as you can guess, using JavaScript to publish your flash content probably isn’t the best way to go at this stage. :) That would include SWFObject 1.0 and 1.5 (for now). Google said that it is working on an update for SWFObject, but does that include 1.0 and 1.5? That said, SWFObject 2.0 using static publishing (standards-compliant) doesn’t rely on JavaScript and I’ve noticed some strong results indexation-wise.

This is such a fluid situation, that you should test out your own flash content on your own sites to see how they get indexed. In addition, keep up to date on the latest changes Google is making regarding indexing flash content. My guess is that the changes will be relatively frequent as Google learns more.

My Flash SEO Advice
So there you have it, 4 concerns and observations that I’ve had since the news hit that Google will be indexing flash content. I have listed some quick advice below:

* Don’t assume Google will automatically index all of your flash content. That would be a big mistake, as there are numerous factors involved with how you code and publish your flash movies.
* Don’t run and create an all-flash site! Please don’t do this for numerous reasons… ;-)
* Test your flash content on several sites that you control, using various publishing methods. This is the best way to gauge how your flash content is being indexed.
* Keep up to speed on how Google changes its algorithm with regard to flash content. The techniques that you use today may need to be tweaked tomorrow. That’s the just the nature of SEO.

Quick Summary
As I wrap up this post, I wanted to reemphasize that this is a big step forward for Google and the other engines, Adobe, and countless content producers across the world. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time and I’m excited to track the progress of flash indexation. If you have discovered any interesting results, please feel free to include them here as a comment. I know I’ll be writing new posts about this topic as time goes on, based on my own testing. Now off to code and test some more flash movies! :)

GG

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

QuickTime Pro, A Powerful and Versatile Video Tool for Web Marketers


QuickTime Pro, the handy video tool from Apple.OK, hypothetical situation. You’re working on a tight deadline for a web video marketing campaign. You’re close to finalizing several creative elements for your client and you just received the final video clips on cd-rom (they unfortunately exported the clips for you). It ends up the person sending you the clips didn’t know the format you needed them in, so you’re left with a few files in varying formats and dimensions. None are optimal, by the way. What do you do?? Well, my hope is that you’ll know exactly what to do after reading this post! You’ll use QuickTime Pro to transcode those videos into a format you can use across marketing channels, whether that’s for uploading to YouTube, for use on mobile devices like iphones or blackberries, or for distribution via cd-rom or dvd-r. In my opinion, QuickTime Pro is a phenomenal tool to have in your web marketing arsenal. Sure, it doesn’t replace a full blown editing system like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere (by any stretch), but it’s fast, has some great features and can save you a lot of time. Let’s dig in.

What is QuickTime Pro?
I know you’ve all heard of QuickTime Player (QT), but Apple also provides a wealth of features bundled into their QuickTime Pro product. It’s only $29.99 and can really save you a lot of time (no, I didn't mean to rhyme that...) You just need to purchase a registration key and then enter that key into your QT Player (in your preferences). QuickTime Pro comes with a number of handy features that you’ll end up using all of the time (once you know that they are there!) You see, QT Pro is part of QuickTime Player, so you won’t find a unique application or interface for working with clips. Using QT Pro, you can convert clips to a number of formats, you can perform some minor editing, and you can even combine clips, creating a separate QT movie from the original you opened! You can encode clips using the H.264 and AAC codecs, which provide maximum quality at extremely small file sizes. More on this later… Even though most people would think that they are just in the standard QT Player while using QT Pro, looks can be deceiving… Let’s take a look at some of the most useful features of QuickTime Pro for web marketers.

Useful Features of QuickTime Pro:

Converting Video Clips to Other Formats (Transcoding Video Files)
So what can do with QuickTime Pro? The short answer is plenty! In my opinion, the most useful feature is its import and export capabilities. You can open a wide range of formats using QT Pro and then easily transcode them to other formats (convert them). Check out the technical specs page to learn more, but it’s a ridiculously handy tool to have around. You can easily convert your clips to a number of formats, including MPEG-4, AVI, QT Movies, DV Stream, etc. (See the screenshot listed below.)

Exporting video clips using QuickTime Pro (transcoding video).

The export feature is available for any format that QuickTime can open, and it can import quite a number of formats… So, if you needed a version of your video for mobile devices, for YouTube, for providing a downloadable version from your website, and on cd-rom, then QT Pro can help you… It can handle all of those tasks quickly and efficiently. Even though I have several professional level editing systems here, it’s sometimes easier to convert video in QT Pro. And yes, it's great for performing basic edits… On that note, let’s take a look at some of the basic editing features built into QuickTime Pro. Read on.

Basic Editing in QuickTime Pro:

Trimming Based on In and Out Points
Do you have 30 seconds of footage that you want to export from a 90 second clip? No problem, you can easily set the in and out points and then trim the clip. Just set the in and out points using sliders while in QT Pro (in the QT player) and then trim the clip by selecting Edit, Trim to Selection. You’re left with the 30 seconds you want to export… Then, export the clip in the various formats you require. Now, what about if you have two clips that you want to combine? Next feature please!

Trimming video clips using QuickTime Pro in and out sliders.

Combining Video Clips by Using Add to Movie
I actually just ran into this situation last week. I had 2 clips that I wanted to combine for a mobile version of a video. QT Pro lets you easily select the second clip and then add it to the first clip. Simply click Window, Show Movie Properties to bring up the Tracks Window. You can select the video and audio track and then click Extract. This will create a new movie containing the tracks you selected. Then click Edit, Select All. Then Edit, Copy. Go back to your original clip and set the playhead at the end of the clip. Then click Edit, Add to Movie and walla, the second clip has been added to the end of the first clip. Nice. Now you are ready to export the final combined clip to a number of formats. It’s a great feature, very simple but powerful.

Combining video clips using QuickTime Pro Add to Movie.

H.264 Video and AAC Audio
If you’ve dealt with video recently, you’ve probably heard of the H.264 codec. It’s an incredible video format (and part of the MPEG-4 standard), that gives you outstanding video quality at a low file sizes. H.264 can be used for web video, mobile video, cd-rom, etc. Whenever I need to upload a video to YouTube, I go with H.264 and I’m never disappointed. Simply open your clip, select File, Export. Then choose QuickTime Movie and select H.264 from the video codec menu. You can set the data rate, frame rate, frame size, etc. You can even add filters, deinterlace your video, etc. It’s fast and provides outstanding quality. You won’t be disappointed!

AAC
QuickTime Pro also let you encode your audio using the AAC codec, which also provides outstanding quality (rivaling uncompressed CD Audio) at small file sizes. It’s an extremely efficient audio codec and part of the MPEG-4 specification. As a side note, most of the music sold on the iTunes Music store is encoded using AAC. Enough said.

Back to Our Hypothetical Situation…
Let’s jump back to our hypothetical situation mentioned earlier to see how you would handle it with QuickTime Pro. Let’s say you were sent a 3 minute clip for your web video marketing project. You really just need 90 seconds of it. You will need a version for YouTube, a version for mobile devices, and a version for DVD-R for a presentation. It ends up that the clip was exported from Final Cut as a self contained QT movie. You open the clip in QT Pro and set the in and out points to the 90 seconds you want. You trim the clip by selecting Edit, Trim Selection. You are now left with just the 90 seconds you want. Next, click File, Export and you are presented with the Export Dialog Box. Let’s start with the H.264 version for YouTube. You want the highest quality file, so set the data rate, frames per second, and audio encoding properly (the actual settings depend on a number of factors. Maybe that's another post!) Select H.264 as the video encoder for video and AAC for audio. Export your clip to a directory on your hard drive.

Now let’s tackle the mobile version. Select export to iphone, which provides a great format for mobile. The file will be an .M4V and can easily be transferred to your iphone or blackberry. Now, let's say there was a 10 second video clip with a call to action edited late in the game. You just grabbed the 10 second clip and want to add it to the first clip, which will give you a final, 100 second video. No problem. QuickTime Pro to the rescue! Open the original clip and click View, Movie Properties. Select the video and audio tracks by control clicking each track in the window and click Extract. Go back to your first clip and position the playhead at the end of your video file. Then click File, Add to Movie. You’re done. Easy, right? Then export to whichever format you need…

QuickTime Pro Summary
In closing, although this post was just an introduction to QuickTime Pro, I hope you can see its power. It’s definitely a great weapon to have in your web marketing arsenal. It has saved me numerous times… Now, it won’t replace your editing software like Premiere or Final Cut, but it’s still a great tool to have around (especially at the $30 price point)! It does a great job for quick edits, opening several formats, and then exporting or transcoding to a number of other useful formats. It just may save your marketing campaign some day. :-)

GG

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The DVR and Its Effect on TV Advertising Recall, Do Your Commercials Stand Out?


DVRs and TV Advertising RecallOr does that really matter? More on that later. First, I’m a big DVR user and have been one for a number of years. I bought my first TIVO about 5 years ago, quickly added a second, and then moved to the Comcast HD DVR last year. So, I read an article in late February about a study conducted by General Electric’s NBC Universal to document the recall power of TV commercials when DVR users were whipping through them at 6x speed. In other words, do you recall an advertisement as you are fast forwarding through commercials on your DVR? By the way, that’s exactly how I watch the shows I record. In addition, if I choose to watch a live show, I just start watching the show 15 minutes in (for a 1 hour show) and then I can still fly through the commercials. Now back to the testing. The following quote is directly from the Wall Street Journal article:

Tracking biometric measurements such as eye movements, heart rate and sweat, the study found that the ads people concentrated on the most and recalled the most shared several traits. The most successful ads concentrated the action and the brand's logo in the middle of the screen, didn't rely on multiple scene changes, audio or text to tell the story, and often used familiar characters. People were also more likely to remember an ad in fast-forward mode if they had seen it once before live.

Glenn’s translation: A big static logo in the center of the screen. ;-)

Uh, tracking biometric measurement?? OK... The most successful ads didn’t rely on audio to tell the story?? The more I think about this topic, the more I think that this entire study wasn’t necessary. I guess it was for networks trying to hold on to TV advertisers at all costs, right?

Paging Dr. Gabe… Dr. Gabe Please Come to the Living Room:
So, I decided to conduct my own study. That’s right…and without biometric measurements, my heart rate wasn’t monitored, my eye movements weren’t scanned, and my sweat glands weren’t checked! I flipped on my TV, drilled into my recordings, armed with a high tech toolkit for a high tech doctor of technology (a pad and pen) and started my first show. My goal was to fast forward through each set of commercials at the highest speed and see which ads I could recall. That is, if I didn’t go into convulsions first! :) Since every study needs a name, I am calling it “The Strobe Logo Study” conducted by Glenn Gabe, Technology Scientist at Large. ;-)

Without further ado, here are the results! I will also give my quick analysis of the results following the data.

LOST on ABC (Probably my favorite show right now...)
1 Hour in Length
I started zipping through the commercials at the highest fast forward speed. Believe me, the highest speed is darn fast…each segment of commercials was over in a few seconds. I remember seeing a flash of the Wendy’s logo (centered on screen), an Applebee’s logo and a Dunkin Donuts logo (both also centered on screen). More on ad positioning later. Each was up for a flash…probably a quarter (1/4) of a second. Also keep in mind that the three logos I remembered are big brands that have been advertising for years. This obviously helped with my recall of their ads.

The Sports Reporters on ESPN
30 minutes in length
The only advertisement I remember seeing was CDW. I saw this logo twice during the show and for a little longer than the logos in LOST. This intrigued me, so I rewound the show a little to watch the CDW ad. It ends up they sponsor the show (see, I didn’t know this because I never watched it in real time!) So, as a lead into the show, they have a voiceover say, “The Sports Reporters is sponsored by…CDW”. This takes a few seconds, which leaves their logo on-screen longer. I saw this twice during the show when whipping through it on my DVR. This is an interesting note for TV advertisers. Also, the logo was centered on the screen, an important factor during my scientific study. :)

American Idol on FOX (like I had to tell you…)
60 Minutes in length
I remember seeing a Citizens Bank logo (I think) and an Infiniti logo. And, maybe…just possibly… a Lowes guy. Then again, it could have been a 7 Eleven guy or Wawa guy. I told you…it’s darn fast! Any quick movement or elaborate camera angles looks like a blur in fast forward. It makes sense, though. The common thread for TV commercial recall was becoming apparent. Any commercial that ended with a large logo centered on screen had a chance of recall (unless I blinked during the 1/4 of a second!)

Dancing With The Stars on ABC
60 Minutes in Length
I’ll cut to the chase…I recalled 3 ads, Advil, Petsmart, and a Nivea product shot. Again, each logo was centered on screen and fairly large (and the Nivea product was also large and centered). Are you seeing a trend here?

Here’s an interesting side note:
When you watch a recorded show, it will abruptly stop at a random frame at the end of the show…which is rarely when it fades to black. Dancing with the Stars ended on a BBC Worldwide America logo. So, since my DVR stopped on that frame, I saw this logo for about 10 full seconds before it returned to my DVR menu. If you are still looking for ways to appear in a DVR world, this could be one of them. BBC Worldwide America was not an advertiser, but that spot could be opened up for advertising...

Conan O’Brien on NBC (Just a brilliant comedian!)
30 Minutes
I literally didn’t recall any specific advertisement… Not one. So, I went through it a second time to make sure my eyes weren’t just fried out of my head from the previous shows… Nope, not one ad, logo, brand, etc. I guess none of the commercials used a logo centered on-screen. Read on for my scientific analysis of my DVR study.

Is this what it’s come down to for TV advertisers?
Triggering convulsions in people to see if they remember a flash of a logo? Really? I know not everyone has a DVR (yet), but if this is the type of study we are conducting, then there’s something very, very wrong. I can hear the scientists who conducted the NBC Universal study now. {In my best European scientist voice} “Yes, it seems that even 1/8 of a second can impact your brand’s recognition in the mind of lowly consumers. TV advertising is still hugely powerful and we may turn to 60 strobe flashes of logos in the future versus 30 second spots. Sure, some people may be hospitalized from the flashes of light, but it’s all worth it if the Advil logo shows up, is recalled, and then helps the hospitalized person's family overcome its collective headaches by using Advil.” OK, I’m a bit sarcastic, but it’s hard not to be!

How To Really Enhance Your TV Advertising, ONLINE
When I think of the cost to produce high end TV commercials, then the cost for airing those commercials, and then combine that with the growing number of DVR users, it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to understand why traditional TV advertising is not in good shape. I’m not saying that TV commercials should go away…but I believe that you need to supplement your TV campaigns with other campaign elements to maximize exposure and engagement. For example, I always recommend adding an online viral component to your TV commercials. Have a micro-site or landing page to engage your brand and advertisement, to help with lead generation, to work in a contest, to spark user generated content, to add a blog, etc. and then utilize online marketing channels to drive visitors there. So, combining your high end TV commercials with a robust micro-site, and then utilize paid search, organic search, email marketing, social media, blogging, display advertising, etc. to drive people there is a smart way to go. Then you’ve got yourself a serious campaign, covering all avenues, and using innovative methods. Versus…trying to justify your TV commercials with “flashes of a logo” or what I’m calling “The Strobe Logo”. There is so much you can do online to enhance your TV advertisements, and at a reasonable cost. To me, it’s a necessary addition that can unleash the true power of viral marketing.

Now let me go put an ice bag on my eyes and give my poor DVR and TV a break! Until my next scientific experiment, this is Dr. Gabe signing off. Does anyone know a good eye doctor? Maybe I should get in touch with the people who went through the original study to see who they recommend!

GG

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, scientist, or PHD. Please don’t ask me for medical assistance or to conduct clinical studies. If you need assistance from a medical doctor, please consult your healthcare company for a referral. I am not authorized to prescribe medication, recommend time off from work, or advocate medical procedures. :)

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Viral Marketing Campaigns, Important Elements to Consider to Enhance Campaign Effectiveness


Viral Marketing Effectiveness, Important Elements to ConsiderViral Marketing is a hot topic, especially since the web is an incredible catalyst for getting the word out about something. Depending on your business, viral marketing can be a powerful way to drive exposure, traffic, and sales. You can get your brand in front of thousands of people in a relatively short amount of time. By the way, I’m not referring to organic Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM) or Buzz Marketing. If you want to get technical, I’m referring to Amplified WOM, or an online marketing campaign with a goal of taking your message viral, spreading it across the web like wildfire, exposing your brand on a grand level, and hopefully turning it into revenue down the line. Don't worry, I explain a few examples below. You don’t have to be a large company to utilize viral marketing. You just need to be creative and develop ideas that leverage the viral nature of the web to achieve your goals… Let’s take a look at what I believe to be some important elements to consider while developing your viral marketing campaign.

Concept Development, Make Sure It’s Fun, Memorable, and That It Has a Hook
During your brainstorming, if you read a concept and remotely think it won’t be fun, inspiring, or intriguing enough, then throw the idea away. The bar is constantly being raised, so you need to ensure people will want to take part. If it just sounds ok, then it’s probably worse. If you get goosebumps while reading it, then you’re on to something. I use this test often while mapping out creative strategies….if it doesn’t give me chills while reading it, then it’s not good enough, period.

Here’s an interesting example of a viral campaign: Weight Watchers recently hired FaintStarlite, a popular video blogger to help promote their "Stop Dieting, Start Living" campaign. There’s a myspace page for the campaign and FaintStarlite vlogs away… She is asking others to post about their diet experiences, their Weight Watchers journey, and talks about her own experiences. Right now, her WW myspace page has over 6300 friends and 430 comments. Reading through the comments, you can see the campaign seems to be resonating. Women (and some men) are talking about dieting, when they joined Weight Watchers, laughing about the craziest diets they have tried, etc. This is a good example of tailoring the campaign to your target audience. Actually, I'd love to hear from FaintStarlite about how the campaign is going from her perspective.

Another good example was the Hammer and Coop viral campaign by Mini Cooper. I won’t go into all the details, but it has ultra-high production value, it's extremely funny, and I spent 15-20 minutes there before I even realized it! Good concept, excellent creative, and got me talking about the campaign…

A Common Question I Hear:
“How controversial or extreme should we make our viral marketing campaign?” I’m a big fan of humor. It’s a great way to generate a viral effect. Think of the CareerBuilder monkey tv commercials, which spurred the CareerBuilder viral campaign "Monkey Mail". It’s a serious subject (your career), but they really took a light angle by using the monkeys… If you can weave humor into a sound marketing concept for your viral campaign, then you are off to a great start. I’m not saying that controversial campaigns don’t generate buzz…but at what price? And by the way, you can shock people with humor and not leave them writhing in their seats… Another option is taking real world experiences and using them as the basis for your campaign. Let your actual customers talk… Let the true stories of helping customers resonate with your target audience. It’s not funny or shocking, but depending on your customer stories, it could generate a lot of viral activity.

Interactivity, Participation and User Generated Content (UGC)
Don’t create a 30 second spot…please. Sure, you might get some views on YouTube, but I firmly believe you need to have people interact with your campaign (and that’s not sitting and watching a 2 minute video). I think it’s a great idea to have video as part of the campaign, but not part of a one way viewing experience. There are so many ways to have people take part in your campaign, especially with web-based campaigns. For example, let’s say you are a clothing retailer and you’re launching a new line of jeans. As part of your campaign, run a contest letting customers create their own commercial for your jeans and give them some creative assets to start with. Maybe your logo, a few snapshots of models wearing the jeans, some music you have licensed for the campaign, and a few video clips from your stores. As participants create their commercials, have them upload the final video to your site, along with supporting commentary (what inspired their idea, their bios, who helped with the production, what their acceptance speech would be if their commercial won an award, etc.) Then have visitors vote on the winners… The winner gets a $2000 shopping spree on the website. It’s a great way to have people interacting with your brand, product, etc. And since they have created intriguing content for your site that others are voting for, your brand and product are now being viewed by more and more people…and maybe on other sites like YouTube, Google Video, etc. Think interactively….and not old-school television.

Giveaways, Grand Prizes, and Runners Up
If you choose to launch a contest as part of the campaign, then I cannot emphasize my next point enough. The winners should get something really, really cool that obviously fits your target market. So don’t give away a Blackberry to a retired guy living in a 55 and older community down in Florida. I'm not saying he wouldn’t like it, but he would probably enjoy a $500 restaurant gift card from Visa. Hey, I understand this crowd well since I know several snowbirds from New York. ;-) Do you target high tech customers, give away a jacked Macbook. Target moms? Give away a shopping spree at Babies R Us. You get the point. And, if you can give away your own products, even better. Then you’ll just pay the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and shipping. For example, if you sell footwear, then giving away 25 pairs of shoes doesn’t cost you the retail price, right? If you’re COGS are 30%, then you are giving away $1500 on $5000 worth of footwear. If you have products that people dig, then this is a great way to go. Keep in mind the viral nature of your campaign, though…will winning a year’s supply of paper clips excite anyone??

Brand Your Campaign and Develop a Dedicated Section of Your Website
Brand your campaign! This has several benefits, including giving people an easy way to communicate the campaign to their friends, helping with natural search, tying easily with your concept and creative, and obviously making it memorable! i.e. My friend Matt tells me about the Actober campaign by Major League Baseball, so I go to Google and enter Actober. If you’ve done your job correctly (and many don’t), your site and others referencing it should come up. If you didn’t give the campaign a name, then what would people search for?? Major League Baseball? On your website, add a directory matching the title of the campaign. i.e. www.yourwebsitename.com/yourcampaignname/

Sidebar, Do not waste those precious links!
I’ve seen campaigns generate thousands of links, which will greatly help a site’s natural search power, but then the companies shut down the campaign section or microsite after the campaign ends. NOOOO!!! “Sir, please step away from your web server…” Leverage that search power by either archiving those pages or using 301 redirects. A good link is a horrible thing to waste. ;-)

Get the Word Out, Advertise Your Viral Marketing Campaign
OK, so you have developed a great campaign, it’s a killer idea, the creative looks incredible, and you are getting goosebumps like I mentioned earlier. Now what?? You need to get the word out via a range of online marketing channels. Use your email list to stir up your base, use social media sites to communicate the campaign, advertise on targeted websites, use paid search to capture targeted visitors, and use PR to send waves across the web. Also, don’t forget to advertise on your own network of websites… I think this is sometimes overlooked. Create advertisements for key traffic areas on your own websites. Hey, there’s no ad spend! Add a footer to any email that goes out (confirmation emails to buyers, your email newsletters, etc.) Have your customer service reps explain the campaign at the end of phone calls. You get the picture. Leverage your own infrastructure to help get the word out.

Have Legal Approve Everything…
You are not a lawyer, so don’t make the mistake of not having your legal team or outside legal counsel approve your campaign. Let me say this again just so I’m clear. DO NOT LAUNCH A CAMPAIGN WITHOUT LEGAL REVIEWING EVERY ASPECT OF THE PROGRAM. I’ve seen campaigns run without a hitch and I’ve also seen campaigns come close to imploding. It’s all about the execution. I’m fanatical about this stage…it’s just in my blood. Listen to your lawyers…legal is a necessary element to your successful marketing campaigns. Make changes based on their feedback and get final approval before moving forward. Believe me, you won’t regret it.

Summary
So there you have it, some important elements to consider while creating your viral marketing campaign. This obviously doesn’t cover everything involved, but I plan on writing more posts related to viral marketing in the future.

Here are a few final words of advice…
* Be sure to view your ideas from the perspective of a would-be participant. It might be a great idea to you and your staff…but might fall flat with the people who will actually be participating.
* Definitely try to inject fun and energy into your campaign.
* Use technology to make it as interactive as possible.
* Use a wide range of online marketing channels to promote your campaign.

Last, my lawyer wanted me to add a line from him:

“This blog post about viral marketing sets forth the entire blog post and understanding of the parties relating to the subject matter hereof and supersedes all prior viral marketing blog posts and understandings, both written and oral, among the parties with respect to viral marketing, amplified word of mouth marketing, generating buzz, webfire, or any other terms related to viral marketing hereof.”

See, I told you to have legal review everything. :-) Sorry, I had to poke fun of legal at least one time in this post...

GG

Related Posts:
The Difference Between Viral Marketing, Word of Mouth Marketing, and Buzz Marketing
7 Drivers of Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM)

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How to Make a YouTube Video, A Beginner’s Checklist for Marketers


How to Create a YouTube Video, Follow This Video Production ChecklistLast week, I was helping a client produce a YouTube video and I explained the various steps involved in the production process. After our meeting, it hit me that the list of steps could be a valuable blog post for anyone interested in creating their own video. So, if you are thinking about shooting your own YouTube video and don’t know where to start, this post is for you. The list below is a great starting point and covers the essential elements to consider while planning and creating your video production.

Disclaimer: Creating a high quality video isn’t easy…even if your intent is to create a low budget, guerrilla-style video. You’ll read many articles on the web about how easy it is, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not. Here’s what is easy: It is easy to shoot a shaky video, with bad sound, bad lighting, horrible edits, copyrighted music, and one that’s completely disjointed. But, that’s not what you want to do, right? You want a video that you can be proud of, something that’s viral, and that gets people talking. So, don’t just grab your camera, run out with a few friends, and start shooting. You might get lucky and have some good footage, but my guess is you won’t be so happy. End of disclaimer. :)

1. Concept Development (Brainstorming)
OK, so you want to create a YouTube video, but you are staring at a blank sheet of paper… Yes, concept development isn’t easy and it’s why the creative brains behind TV shows, movies, commercials, etc. can make boat loads of money. :) I recommend getting your hands on a white board, grabbing a few of your coworkers and hitting a conference room. Then begin a divergent thinking session. Brainstorm lots of ideas related to your core concept. DO NOT LIMIT ANY IDEAS AT THIS STAGE. Please, don’t let any idea killers in the room. That’s why it’s called divergent thinking… Start jotting them on the whiteboard, organized by major category (humor, serious, action, parody, etc.) If you have the right group of people in the room, then you should have a few dozen ideas on your whiteboard. During the process of working through your favorite ideas, think about the following:

a. How original is the idea? Has it been done 50 times already or is it a new angle? Will you build upon or parody an older concept? Originality is key.
b. Cost (if you have a great idea, but it’s going to cost an arm and a leg, it might not work...)
c. How viral can your concept be? Is it something you believe your target market will enjoy enough to pass along?
d. Location, location, location. Where are you going to shoot the video? Shooting a video in a baseball stadium would be great, but is that really possible? Is a park better? Do you need permission to be there? So on and so forth.
e. How complex will the editing be? Will you need to create a dozen effects for the final edit? How will you accomplish that? Do you even have the software or skillset to do it?

2. Script and Storyboard
Excellent, you have your concept and it’s a killer idea that’s completely possible to shoot on your budget. :) Now what? Well, it’s time to write your script. This is also not an easy task. If you’ve never written a script before, there’s a good chance that you’ll be in pain. If you find yourself cooking along, then you might want to do this full time. :) Personally, I love this stage… This is where you get to flesh out your concept. The script and storyboard are the foundation for your production. If you have a poorly mapped out script and storyboard, you are setting yourself up for failure. Take as much time as you need at this stage to get it right. You should determine your main characters, how much dialogue will there be, determine locations for the shoot, and of course begin writing the actual script. Just to clarify, the script covers what your characters will be saying and doing during the shoot, where the storyboard helps you map out the flow of the video. Keep in mind that the storyboard doesn’t have to be a work of art…I’ve created several storyboards that were on 8.5x11 sheets of white paper, framed with pencil, using stick figures. I’ve also developed some storyboards that were more elaborate…it’s all about timing and how involved your production will be.

3. The Shot List
By now your script and storyboard should be done. Now you need to create your shot list from your script and storyboard. A shot list is essential. It helps you determine every shot you need for your production. And it’s not just about your core shots, it’s also about getting additional footage for your edit. For example, if you were shooting at a baseball field like I mentioned earlier, you definitely need to get some establishing shots. Maybe you will pan up to reveal the stadium sign or get a 360 shot from inside the stadium. You need to think about all of your shots or you’ll find yourself cursing a lot in post production. :) The shot list can be a simple Word document listing each shot you need to capture with some notes about the scene. In addition, I would buy a clipboard and attach the script, storyboard, and shot list to it on the day of your shoot.

4. Necessary Video Production Equipment
You are getting closer to the shoot and you’ve got a solid script, storyboard, and a well planned shot list. Now you need to think about your equipment. I can write an entire post about each of the bullets below, but I’ll try and keep each description as brief as possible. Also keep in mind that this is a basic list. You can really go nuts with video production equipment, which is why the title of this section is “Necessary Video Production Equipment”. :)

a. Your Camera
Duh, right? Just like with other electronic equipment, video cameras have come down in price. Just make sure you have one (or buy one) that can do the job at hand. You don’t absolutely need a $5000 HD camera, but you also don’t want a $100 hunk of junk that captures horrible video and audio. You won’t have a chance… I’ve provided a few links below to CNET’s editor’s picks for both home video and pro/semi-pro cameras:

Pro and Semi-Pro Cameras – Editor’s Choice
http://reviews.cnet.com/4370-6500_7-135-103.html?tag=lnav

Home Video Cameras – Editor’s Choice
http://reviews.cnet.com/4370-6500_7-135-102.html?tag=lnav


b. Microphones
There is one thing you should keep in mind when thinking about audio. Most people don’t really notice high quality audio…they just know bad audio as soon as they hear it. They are used to great audio on TV, in movies, in commercials, etc. There are some really cost effective ways to capture quality audio and I highly recommend making the investment in a few microphones. For example, I have a great wireless lavaliere microphone from Audio Technica that only cost $50. It’s easy to use and works great. Audio is extremely hard to adjust in post production (while you are editing), so it’s critically important to capture the best possible audio during the shoot. You know the old adage, garbage in, garbage out…

c. Lighting
It’s not easy to light a set. I actually think it’s an art form! I would look into buying a professional lighting kit. If you don’t want to buy a lighting kit, then you’ll need to find locations for your shoot that provide the best possible lighting. Shooting outdoors might be a good way to go, as long as Mother Nature cooperates. If you are flexible with the date of your shoot, then this may be the way to go. Test out various locations PRIOR to your shoot and watch it back on your video monitor or TV. Jot down the best locations, lighting-wise, and try and go back during the same time of day. Lighting is another element that can make or break your production (and it’s hard to adjust in post production.)

d. Smooth Motion (Using a Steadicam or Glidecam)
If you are going to capture a lot of motion, definitely look into building or buying a steadicam or glidecam. There is almost no way to achieve smooth motion without one… Don’t believe me? Grab your camera and walk down your street while shooting. Watch it back and see how fast you get motion sickness. :) A steadicam or glidecam will help smooth out those bumps and can provide a cinematic effect that’s hard to achieve without using one. Note, you will need to practice to achieve smooth motion while keeping your subject in the frame, but it’s well worth it. If you want to build a steadicam, then check out the poor man’s steadicam. I built one a few years ago to see how it would work and it actually works really well. It cost me $25-$30 for supplies and then took me 2 hours to build. If you want to buy a Glidecam, then you might want to check out http://glidecam.com/product-2000-pro.php to learn about the Glidecam 2000. I believe it’s their least expensive product.

e. Backdrop
If you will be shooting any interviews, make sure you have a good location with a nice backdrop. If you want, you can also buy a professional backdrop for about $60-$100. If you think you’ll be shooting several more video interviews, then you can also buy a frame to hold backdrops for about $150-$200. It’s a small investment and will bring a level of professionalism to your production.

5. The Shoot
I can write 10 pages about the day of the shoot, but I’ll keep it brief. Don’t forget your script, storyboard, and shot list. Think about the essentials for your shoot. Make sure you have backups for everything. For example, batteries, microphones, video tape, battery packs, AC power, headphones, duct tape, adapters, wardrobe, etc. Capture lots of footage…you can always delete footage, but you can’t go back and get more! Even if you did choose to go back and shoot more footage at a later time, the lighting would be different, your subjects might look different, the surroundings might have changed, etc. So shoot away. Make sure you bring headphones so you can hear what your camera is recording. Try and minimize any problems before each shot. Before you end the shoot, check your script, storyboard, and shot list again to ensure you have everything you need. You should try and minimize the “Darn, I wish we would have captured more of…” syndrome. :)

6. Post Production (Video Editing)
Now that your video shoot is over, run back to your office to log and capture your footage. Actually, depending on how much footage you shot, you just might want to capture all of it. Hard drive storage is so cheap now that it just might be easier to capture all of the footage. If you need to log and capture your footage, just make sure you give yourself a few seconds before and after each clip (so you have room for editing on each side of the clip).

a. Video Editing Software
There are several popular video editing software packages to choose from. Which one you go with really depends on your requirements. I highly recommend both Adobe Premiere and Apple Final Cut. Both packages are not cheap, but well worth the money. In addition, I believe both have “light” versions of the software for less money. In my opinion, you probably won’t need all of the power of Final Cut or Premiere, so the light versions may work well for you.

Disclaimer: Video editing is not easy. You will improve with time, but chances are your first editing experience will not be pleasant. Keep at it, watch movies, TV shows, etc. to see how the pros do it. There’s a lot you can learn from watching Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Peter Jackson, and James Cameron. :)

b. Length
I would try and keep your YouTube video less than 3 or 4 minutes in length. Attention spans are lower than ever, so if your video is 15 minutes long, good luck. Keep it clear and concise. Keep your viewers in mind. Most people don’t have time to sit through more than a few minutes. Factor this in as you edit.

c. Video Bumpers
Since you’ll be providing your video on several video sharing websites (including YouTube, Google Video, Daily Motion, and numerous other video sites), you’ll want to add bumpers to your video. Bumpers are basically short segments at the beginning and end of your video that provide viewers with information about the production. This is a great place to add the product name, company name, URL, etc. In addition, since viewers have the ability to add your video to their own websites or blogs from YouTube and the other video sites, adding a URL to learn more about your subject matter is a smart idea. This is where bumpers can play an important role in driving viewers to your website or blog!

In closing, I know this was a lot of information, but I hope it gives you the confidence to produce a well made YouTube video! At a minimum, I hope this post contains enough information to get you started. I plan to write more posts about interactive video production so definitely check back often. As usual, if you get frustrated and need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me. Now, begin your divergent thinking and create a killer YouTube video!

GG

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Continuing Evolution of Online Shopping : My Virtual Model and Beyond


Lands End Virtual Dressing RoomThis is Part II of my series about e-commerce imaging functionality at LandsEnd.com. In my first post, I explained how the pan, zoom, and view funtionality is some of the best I have seen on the web. This post is about something much more important, at least in the long-term. When you browse LandsEnd.com and view a product detail page, you will find a link labeled “Try it on”. After clicking that link, you will be taken to a virtual dressing room where you can utilize an application called Dressing Room by My Virtual Model. My Virtual Model is a virtual identity company located in Quebec, Canada. Lands' End has actually been using this functionality for a while, but I wanted to explain more about it since I believe it gives us a glimpse into the future.

So what does this application actually do? In a nutshell, Lands’ End is enabling you (via a third party application) to create your own virtual self, customize your virtual model to match your dimensions, customize the look of your model, and then try on clothes as if you were in the store (without the stress of thousands of holiday shoppers around you!) ;-)

The Future of Online Shopping:
Ever since I developed Heighten (in 2003), I’ve been explaining what the future of online shopping could look like. Heighten is the video-based internet marketing platform I developed (in case you were wondering…) Also, when I refer to the “future”, I’m not talking about the year 2500, I mean in the "not so distant" future… I would explain something like this to prospective clients:

"You’ll be watching your favorite show (probably not on a major network, but on your favorite online channel), and you’ll notice that one of the actors is wearing a shirt that you like. You’ll click that shirt, the show will pause, and options for learning more about that shirt will pop up. You’ll be able to drill into that item to see a hologram of the shirt so you can truly get a better look at the product (right in front of you and in 3 dimensions). You’ll choose your size, color, etc. and click buy. The show will resume, and your shirt will be delivered the next day (and not in 5-10 days!)” Am I crazy to think that? No, that’s where we are heading. Sounds very Minority Report, doesn’t it?

Back to My Virtual Model:
I’ve played around with this functionality extensively over the past week and have provided a breakdown below. It was definitely helpful and very cool, so let’s take a closer look….

Personalize Your Virtual Model:
Clicking “Try This On” while you are on a product detail page brings up a new window with your virtual dressing room. I set up an account so I could customize my model and have Lands' End save my settings. You can see a screenshot of the interface below. Now let’s set up our virtual Glenn…. OK, that definitely sounds weird. ;-)

Dressing Room Interface from My Virtual ModelThe Interface for My Virtual Model's Dressing Room Application

My Model and My Fit:
Clicking the “Personalize” tab brings you to a screen where you can customize your model and your specific fit. Let’s start with your model. Here, you can give your model a name, a body shape, a build, height, weight, face, eyes, nose, lips, hair style, hair color, and facial hair. Wow, pretty cool, right? Or scary, I can’t tell yet...

Clicking the “My Fit” button enables you to customize your height, waistband, inseam, chest size, neck size, sleeve length, seat, thigh, and age. Click “Save” and your settings will be retained by My Virtual Model. Side Note: For those of you looking to lose weight, this could be an eye-opening experience… Be prepared to see a virtual you, down to the poundage!

Getting a Good Look at the Clothes That Your Virtual You is Wearing…Or You are Wearing…Oh Heck, You Know What I'm Talking About!
Now that your model is set up, click the “My Virtual Model” tab. Now you can start trying on clothes. There are dropdowns for category, subcategory, and then products within that subcategory. For example, I selected Jeans and then clicked the first pair of jeans that showed up. The virtual model is now wearing the jeans I selected. Then I could select the color of the jeans, which showed up in real-time (real-time processing is an option in your account). Then I selected Dress Shirts and clicked the Hyde Park button down.

Getting a Closer Look : Changing Views:
So far, so good. But what if you want to get a better look at the outfit? No problem, just click the “turn” arrow buttons at the bottom of the screen. You can turn your model either clockwise or counterclockwise to view the outfit at different angles. Very cool. Want a closer look? Click the "Zoom" button on the bottom toolbar and you’ll see a much larger model in a new window. You can turn your model here, as well.

Getting a Better View of Your Model
Turning Your Model to Get a Better View of a Product on LandsEnd.com

Saving Your Selections:
You can click “add to favorites” to save the product you are looking at on the virtual model, or you can click “save outfit” to save the entire outfit in your favorites. In addition, you can click “Buy this Item” to return to LandsEnd.com to select your size, color, and number of items. And, you can click "Buy this Outfit" on the bottom toolbar to buy the entire outfit you selected. More on this later... When you click "Buy this Item", it would be great if it would reflect the color you were looking at in your virtual dressing room, but it doesn’t. Also, it should default to your size, based on what you entered while setting up your virtual model. I’m assuming they will build this in down the line… For me, saving specific items in my favorites worked well, but saving outfits didn’t… Whenever I tried to view my saved outfits, the application would send me to a screen to register (which I had done already). Again, I’m assuming Lands' End knows about this and will rectify the issue. Other than that, it worked pretty well. :)

Excellent Opportunity for Cross Selling (and they take advantage of it…)
There are times where you need some help figuring out what matches the selections you’ve made. My Virtual Model enables retailers to provide this functionality in what they call “Great Go Togethers”. If you choose a category and then click “Great Go Togethers” on the right side of the screen, you will find product listings and then other items that match. So, if you don’t have much time and want recommendations for an entire outfit, this is the place for you. For example, I chose a dress shirt, selected the pants, and shoes that LandsEnd.com recommended and I had an outfit built in 10 seconds.

Yes, There Are Some Issues…
1. The clothes look better in photographs and in real life!
When you look at an outfit on your virtual model, the clothes don’t look so hot. I know this is a virtual dressing room, but my fear as a marketer is that the application could backfire for retailers. For example, maybe the shirt looks better on me than it does on Virtual Glenn and maybe I decide not to buy it… That’s just my opinion, though...

2. Saving outfits to your favorites or buying entire outfits didn’t work for me:
Clicking “Buy this Outfit” while in my virtual dressing room took me to a screen where you can select your options for each product in the outfit, but the “add to shopping bag” button wouldn’t work. I tried this a dozen times on multiple systems and it simply wouldn’t work for me. The “Buy this Item” button worked, but if you want to buy the entire outfit, it wouldn’t work…This could be a serious “conversion killer” so if I was in marketing at Lands' End, I would take a serious look at this.

3. That's Me?
Hey, that really doesn’t really look like me… Thank you Captain Obvious. ;-) I know it can't look just like me, but I'll bet this can be a hangup for some people. I guess the easy way to alleviate the issue is to simply provide more options for customizing your virutal you.

Retailers, Keep Driving Forward…
In closing, I applaud Lands’ End for using My Virtual Model and its Dressing Room application. It’s not easy to utilize innovative functionality on a large site with that much traffic and exposure. After playing with the functionality extensively, I think they are off to a great start, but obviously not there yet. As a marketer, I can deal with some of the growing pains associated with innovation, but one thing I cannot deal with (or won’t deal with) is inhibiting customers from buying. That simply cannot happen...

If you are interested learning more about how this works, then you should try it out on LandsEnd.com. The functionality is definitely a step in the right direction for online shopping, but it needs to work perfectly for it to become mainstream. I know the industry will get there…but it’s just going to take some time.

GG

Related Posts:
E-commerce Imaging Functionality with Lands End - Getting a Killer Look at Products While Shopping Online
e-Commerce Shipping - Online Customers Demand a New Standard

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

E-Commerce Imaging Functionality with Lands End - Getting a Killer Look at Products While Shopping Online


Lands End eCommerce Imaging FunctionalityWe’ve all been there. You’re shopping online and find something you're 95% sure that you want, but you need to get a better look at the product before you click “add to cart”. So you select “Click here for larger photo” but sometimes that yields inadequate images that don’t really build more confidence. Over the past few years, e-commerce imaging technology has greatly advanced (especially on larger retail websites). During my latest Gobble Thursday holiday shopping session, I visited Lands End and checked out some clothes for the upcoming winter season. Let me tell you, their product imaging functionality is some of the best I have seen on the web. Actually, it’s good enough that I decided to write a blog post about it today! Now, what makes it so good? Let’s jump right in:

Browse-By Listings (Category Listings and Image Functionality):
I started my visit to Lands End by clicking Men, Shirts & Sweaters and then Sweaters to get to the browse by listings you see below.

Lands End Category Listings

As I was looking at the listing of sweaters, I rolled over one I liked and the product view changed on rollover to a model wearing the sweater. I found this to be a great way to give potential buyers a second view of the product right from the sweater listings (and not necessarily on the product detail page). The view showed the sweater on a model so you can see it in context (and not just on a white background). Reference photos below. Then, right below the product image, I noticed several swatches. Clicking a swatch changed the product image dynamically, without post-back. Post-back is developer-speak for when your browser completely refreshes the webpage, which takes unnecessary time. I really like this functionality in the browse by listings…it was intuitive, provided value, and enabled me to see a wide array of sweaters in different colors and on a person. I love it. :) OK, let’s click through to the product detail page to get a closer look.

Screenshot of category listing with rollover functionality and swatches:
Lands End Category Listing Change View and Color


Product Detail Page: Pan, Zoom, and View:
Once on the product detail page, Lands End gives you several options for getting up close and personal with the product you are viewing. First, you have a nice product image (full view). Let’s get a closer look.

The Zoom:
Below the image, Lands End provides their pan and zoom functionality, which is one of the best I have seen on the web. You can either click the image to zoom in or click the “zoom in” button below the image. Either one lets you zoom into the product to view more detail. I was able to zoom in at a granular level (actually further in than I really needed to, but some people would want to see the fabric as closely as possible). It was easy to use and the response time was excellent.

Zooming in to get a closer look:
Lands End Zoom Functionality on the Product Detail Page


Now The Pan:
Then, if you click and drag the image once you zoom in, you can scroll around to view a closeup of the product. The image blurs as you drag the product, but refocuses once you choose the desired section of the product. You should try it out to get a good feel for how this works, because it’s some of the best pan and zoom functionality on the web (seriously.) There is a thumbnail in the bottom right corner which shows you a red bounding box that represents which part of the product you are viewing. But Lands End didn’t stop there…you can even drag the red bounding box around, which moves the product image. Great functionality…

Change Your Product View:
Below the pan and zoom controls, there are a few additional thumbnails. For my example, you can see the full sweater, the sweater on a model, and then a fabric swatch. When you click each image, the larger product image above changes to what you selected. Then you can use the pan and zoom functionality on the new image. Outstanding! If you choose the swatch thumbnail, then you can take a closer look at the fabric, which I can guarantee decreases product returns… More on this later.

Switching images to get a different view:
Lands End Category Listings


Colors and Fabrics:
On the right side of the page, you’ll find a list of swatches so you can easily change the color of the product you are looking at. Again, this is completed without post-back, which is fast and seamless. In addition, the thumbnails below the pan and zoom functionality also reflect the change in color (the full product view, the product on a model and the fabric swatch). Nice touch.

Selecting different colors dynamically changes the images:
Lands End Change Color and Fabric With Swatch Selections


What's The Effect on Your Buying Experience?
Providing e-commerce imaging functionality like this truly enhances the user experience on LandsEnd.com. Lands End exceeds customer expectations with the investment they made in their imaging functionality. As a marketer, when you start to analyze bounce rate, exit rate, and abandonment rates, you start to appreciate functionality like this. When it comes down to it, if you leave doubt in a customer’s mind, you might leave revenue on the table. But it’s much worse than that… The customer you just lost will go somewhere else to buy, may never come back to your website, and then will generate incremental revenue for your competitor. Great, right? Lands End is obviously dedicated to giving visitors every possible option while viewing their products so they can make an informed decision. By the way, they provide some additional functionality that I haven’t listed here…and I plan to review that soon. Consider that a blog teaser! :)

Decrease Product Returns:
In addition, Lands End is making its web operation more profitable by providing functionality like this. I bet their product returns from web purchases are lower than other retailers. How could it not be?? You are getting an incredible view of a product you are interested in…it’s almost like you are in a store for crying out loud! OK, maybe not that good yet…yet.

Lower Your Cart Abandonment Rate and Checkout Abandonment Rate:
I’ll also bet that their cart and checkout abandonment rates are lower than other retailers. Abandonment can happen due to several reasons, one of which is a lack of confidence in the product you just added to your cart. You know, questions like “will it really look like that?”, “what does the fabric actually look like?”, “what does it look like on?”, so on and so forth. Lands End minimizes these doubts, which probably lowers their abandonment rates. As a web analytics nut, I’d love to see their stats! {wait…taking one more Analyticza} ;-)

Ease of Use = Happy Customers:
This one is simple…Lands End makes it so easy and effortless to browse and buy that customers truly enjoy shopping on the website. I can tell you, that’s the way I feel. Being a web marketing consultant, I almost wanted to stay on the website to keep playing around with their imaging functionality… That’s if I didn’t have a gift list to knock out! ;-) Again, I’ll be writing a second review soon…

In Closing...
Well, I think you can tell how much I like the imaging functionality on LandsEnd.com! It was easy to use, robust, and more importantly, it builds customer confidence. I have a new tagline for Lands End:

"No Doubt and Lots of Confidence...Shop LandsEnd.com"

I have a feeling I'll be back to LandsEnd.com this holiday season....and I'm confident I won't be the only one! :-)

GG

Related Posts:
The Continuing Evolution of Online Shopping : My Virtual Model and Beyond
Effective Email Marketing With BuyCostumes.com
e-Commerce Shipping - Online Customers Demand a New Standard
2006 Holiday Season Online Shopping Review

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

MedellintheFilm.com - How HBO is Using Buzz Marketing for a Movie That Hasn’t Been Made on a TV Show That Isn’t Real, Or is It?


HBO Using Buzz Marketing for MedellinTheFilm.comEntourage on HBO
If you have HBO, then chances are you watch Entourage. How can you not love this show, right? It gives you a view into the life of a big time actor in Hollywood and all the craziness that goes along with it. I’ve watched the show since its first episode and I’m glad we started then! For those of you who don’t know Entourage, here’s a quick rundown. Vincent Chase is an up and coming actor (actually a star by now.) He grew up in Queens and brought his buddies out to Hollywood with him (his entourage). You get to follow Vince and his entourage through landing movie deals, spending exorbitant amounts of money, dealing with big time agents, producers, and directors, and encountering all sorts of eclectic folks in Hollywood. In addition, there are many cameos from Hollywood stars, which adds a genuine feel to the show. It’s a fun ride! Watch it if you don’t already…you won’t be disappointed.

HBO Creating Buzz About a Fictional Movie Getting Buzz on the Show, Which Might End Up Creating Enough Buzz to Yield a Real Movie! What?
Phew, now that’s a tough sentence to get out. As part of the storyline, Vince Chase finds a script he loves called Medellin about the notorious drug villain Pablo Escobar. He wants the movie bad enough to buy the script for millions of dollars, ends up as executive producer (along with his buddy named “E”), hires a loose cannon director named Billy, and shoots the movie in South America. As a viewer, you take a journey through the making of a movie, including all of the nail biting situations that real producers go through. You almost start to believe that this is actually going to be a movie… More on this later. As part of the last episode, the trailer for Medellin gets leaked onto YouTube, and the world starts to see the masterpiece (or bomb) that Vince and E produced. By the way, that was on the show, but someone really leaked the trailer on YouTube...smart move. I won’t go into the granular details of the episode or storyline, but it’s hilarious to see the behind the scenes moves of agents, producers, directors, and what goes on in Hollywood in general. Again I recommend watching it! So, someone leaked the trailer on YouTube and it started getting a ton of views. Great buzz marketing tactic, right? Was it leaked? Was it a ploy? Who knows, but heck, it’s a TV show!

The (Real) Bzz Marketing Begins…
At the end of the last episode, where you typically watch scenes from the following week, you were hit with what seemed to be the beginning of a movie trailer. I was really surprised… What was this?? It was the trailer for Medellin. Brilliant! We watched it 3 or 4 times, again, starting to get sucked into the real, sorry fictional, world of Entourage. :) At the end of the trailer, they flashed the website URL for the movie, medellinthefilm.com. OK, we’re there! There are 30 million subscribers to HBO, so how many people do you think ran to their computers like we did to visit the official website of Medellin? How many people started blogging about it (like I am now)? Digg already has a bunch of stories about it, and I’m sure the original story was from someone at HBO! We first typed medellinthemovie.com and ended up at some weird site that had nothing to do with the show or movie. Then I quickly found a blog post explaining that many people were entering the wrong URL, and that it was actually medellinthefilm.com. Again, keep in mind, this is for a fictional show and a movie that’s part of a fictional show… The official site must have received a ton of visitors over the past few days. With one, 90 second trailer at the end of a show, HBO started a craze on the web to find the trailer, the site, and this all generated serious bzz on blogs, forums and social media sites ALL ABOUT A MOVIE THAT’S NOT REAL!

Medellin, The Real Movie?
HBO might generate enough buzz that Medellin the movie could actually get made. Heck, if you were HBO, wouldn’t you create an original film knowing that millions of people are already on board? Wouldn’t it be wild if Vince Chase stars in the movie? Remember, there is no Vince Chase…he’s a character in Entourage. Confused?

In closing…
I believe there’s a lot to learn about Buzz Marketing and Amplified WOM from this example. Leave it to HBO get people buzzing about a movie that hasn’t even been shot yet! ...And all on a TV show that walks a fine line between fact and fiction, and with real, I mean fictional characters, agents, and directors in the wonderful world of Hollywood.

It’s amazing to see how 90 seconds can light a fire under so many people. Is there another medium, other than the web, that could drive buzz like this? I don’t think so…and it's why I love what I do. :)

My final thoughts for Entourage fans:
Keep watching Entourage, try to find your own Ari Gold, root for Drama because there's no hope, laugh at Turtle so HBO keeps him on the show, be as bold as E, and eat up risk like Vince Chase…all from the comfort of your own home!

It’s not TV, it’s HBO. :)

GG

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