Retailers are starting to use video to target consumers. Although tests are just beginning, vendors say the results bring in higher response rates than text or HTML e-mails. But there are different approaches to the technology and because video e-mail is new no single technology has emerged as a leader. The ongoing argument is whether messages should be embedded into the e-mail or delivered by streaming video through an Internet connection.
Los Gatos, CA-based Storymail uses the video embedding technique to deliver its messages. “The quality is guaranteed because it doesn’t play until all the content is fully loaded and is not broken up with bandwidth downloads,” says Timo Allison, director of market development. However, it is possible that it could take too long for a recipient to download a message, which can make marketing efforts useless. But Allison says that while there is a risk of losing the customer the technology gets around the obstacle by using software that can identify what a recipient can download.
Other video e-mail vendors, such as TMX Interactive, deliver video e-mail through a recipient’s Internet connection. The company uses sniffer technology to identify what type of connection a recipient has and then delivers the appropriate version of the message, says Blair Lyon, founder and president. The concern with this approach is that recipients with slow modems will not view the message or even the same message as others with faster modems. “Once we see what the end user needs we serve them a scaled down version of the message and that’s the most important thing that the marketer wants,” Lyon says. “A marketer only has three to five seconds to get a consumer’s attention. If nothing plays or they see a blank screen because they’re waiting for a download, then they won’t read the message. It’s a waste of a marketer’s money.”