This article was written by Daniel Sevitt of EyeViewDigital, and appeared in the March 2010 edition of Website Magazine.
Websites today are finely tuned conversion machines driving users
toward clear conversion goals. There is no room for luxuries, “nice-tohaves”
or Internet fads … except when it comes to online video.
While sites fall over themselves scrambling to put
video on their home pages and landing pages, very few
are placing the same demands on video that they do on
pictures, forms and text. Why should video be treated
like any less of a conversion tactic than other elements
of a Web page?
The problem is that most sites have no tools for
measuring the effectiveness of video and that leads to
one of two possible video solutions: The no-budget solution
or the write-off solution.
The No-budget Solution
Throw a dart at the Internet and you’ll hit a blog post
advising how to post a video on your site for next to
nothing. There are tips and tricks about lighting your
office and getting your in-house staff (or immediate
family) to appear on camera talking about your products.
Make sure you have a good microphone. Invest in
a cheap tripod. Take a few minutes first to work out
what you’re going to say and then whack it up on
YouTube. It doesn’t matter if your video sits in a player
designed to draw traffic away from your site. It doesn’t
matter if you look pasty and unrehearsed. All that matters
is that you have a video.
The no-budget solution shows that you have no
idea how to monetize your video. It makes it clear that
this is a grey area, at best, and that the only way to justify
this lack of analysis is to ensure that it didn’t cost
more than a few pennies.
The Write-off Solution
The write-off solution tackles the lack of fiscal transparency
in online video from the opposite angle. If
you don’t know the value of video then there’s no
point worrying about it. You want video, so you pay
for video — $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 — whatever
it costs, as long as it looks good when it plays on
With the write-off solution, video becomes simply
another amorphous marketing line item. If there is no
way to measure a return, then there can be no expectation
of a return. You write off the investment and bask
in the glory of a great video.
As marvelous as both these solutions may seem,
there is an alternative. But it requires you to abandon
the assumption that so many site owners make — that
there is no way to measure the effectiveness of video.
Video can and must be accountable as a key element in
the sales funnel.
The Third Way — Accountable Video
If you are going to add video to your site, you must determine
if it is effective at driving visitors to your conversion
goal. The most efficient way to do this is A/B
testing — just as you would for a new picture or call-toaction.
You must find a video solution that allows you
to run the video against a control group and measure
whether or not there has been an upturn in the conversion
rate of the page.
Before considering the content or duration of the
video, we need to consider a number of other parameters.
The location of the video on the page brings with
it a set of expectations. If the video occupies the top left
of the page then it mimics the positioning of video players
on most video sharing sites such as YouTube, Metacafe
and Veoh. This position brings with it an
expectation of entertainment or information. Placed
elsewhere, the video might appear to be more of an ad
unit — which may impact the expectations of the
viewer. But, you won’t know for sure unless you test it.
In deciding on the optimum content of your video,
it’s impossible not to consider its length. For all your
good intentions about clear messaging, viewing statistics
suggest that most of your audience will not stick
around for more than one minute of video. In order to
maximize this tantalizingly brief opportunity, build
your video’s content in a modular fashion. This means
scripting and creating a number of sections and then
piecing together those sections and testing different versions
and durations of the video to determine the most
Once you have an inviting intro and a convincing
outro, you can populate the middle part of your video
with a number of different elements. Should you talk
about your secure transactions, or should you explain
your first-user promotion? Should you point out the
benefits of loyalty or the unparalleled originality of your
offering? The answer, of course, is that you should prepare
as many of these elements as you can and then test
them with real traffic and measure their comparative
impact on your page’s conversion rate.
Between the no-budgets and the write-offs there has
been a conspicuous lack of optimization analysis
around video. If your in-house or outsourced video
provider is unable to establish the link between video
and increased conversion and revenue then it’s time to
When you want to add video to your site, you need
measurable ROI which can only come from increased
and optimized conversion. Video can and must pay its
own way on your site.
About the Author: Daniel Sevitt is a veteran of the online video industry having spent several years at Metacafe heading the content division and working with online video creators from independent producers to established Hollywood heavyweights. Daniel joined EyeView in May 2009 to prove that online video could pay its own way in the world without depending on support from advertising. Daniel regularly blogs about the best ways to get value out of online video at the EyeView Digital Blog.