Many of the common perceptions about video's role in online commerce are actually incorrect, according to a new study from Invodo and the e-tailing group.
Among other findings, the study's research shows that consumers care more about the quality and content of the video than the length of the clip, and that consumers have come to expect video as part of their online shopping experience rather than regarding it as an added feature or bonus.
"Up until now, retailers have had to make decisions about video without a lot of information from the most important stakeholder - their customers," says Craig Wax, CEO of Invodo. "In learning from consumers themselves, it's clear that shoppers are comfortable with video, they watch it when they find it, and it can play a significant role in the buying process."
The survey revealed that a variety of common assumptions about video are off-base and that perhaps video is more important to aiding purchasing decisions than previously thought:
Myth: 30-seconds is the sweet spot for video; shoppers will abandon videos after a certain time because they have short attention spans.
What the research shows: Length of videos doesn't matter as much as quality and type do. People don't abandon a video because it's gone past a certain time; they abandon the video when it's not telling them something that's useful for their decision-making.
Videos that educate and demonstrate are given the greatest attention and consumers will watch them multiple times prior to purchasing a product. Over a third of consumers (37 percent) spend more than three minutes watching product videos that educate or demonstrate, and 66 percent watch videos on information-intensive products two or more times.
Myth: The use of video on websites is a "nice-to-have" feature to help improve the user experience.
What the research shows: Video plays a significant role and is a more important investment than many brands realize, given how much of an impact it has on purchasing decisions. Shoppers want, expect and watch videos to increase their understanding of a product or service they're considering buying, and to feel more confident about their purchase.
Two-thirds (66 percent) of consumers report that seeing a product demonstrated in a video makes it much easier for them to understand how it really works, and more than half (52 percent) said that watching a product video before purchasing an item online makes them more confident in their decision and less likely to return that product.
Myth: Casual, "YouTube-style" videos produced in-house can be as effective in building credibility and demonstrating products than professionally made videos.
What the research shows: Professionally produced videos with quality lighting and sound matter a lot to shoppers. Consumers appreciate high-quality video production, and professionally generated videos receive greater engagement and are seen as more reliable when making purchase decisions.
More than half of the consumer respondents (54 percent) cited a preference for watching more "polished" professionally produced videos. While only 30 percent indicated they were inclined to buy a product as a result of watching user-generated videos from peers, more than 47 percent said that professionally produced videos are "more reliable" in helping make purchase decisions.
The goal of the survey was to understand current product video consumption habits and the role these videos play in consumers' online browsing and buying behaviors. The study explored data from a November 2011 online survey conducted by the e-tailing group, which was fielded to 1,039 consumers who have watched product videos on retail or brand manufacturer websites.
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