February 26, 2010, 12:00 AM

Rapid advances in online video offer opportunities for e-commerce companies

New video technology at Marks & Spencer`s web site has helped boost the click-through rate as high as 30% for some videos, driving sales increases on some products by as much as 90%.

An alluring video of a model showing off the latest fashion can spark I-want-it consumption lust in many a consumer. U.K.-based retailer Marks & Spencer is offering its web shoppers instant gratification by placing Buy buttons next to videos for products that appear as a video progresses. And quite a few are clicking.

Clicking on a Buy button takes the viewer to the product page for the item displayed in the video. That’s just one change in online video technology that’s helping online companies use moving pictures to move more goods.

The video technology from Brightcove and Adjust Your Set, which creates video productions for e-commerce sites, has helped boost the click-through rate as high as 30% for some videos, Marks & Spencer says, driving sales increases on some products by as much as 90%.

And, there are other technologies that can help e-commerce companies when adding video to their web sites. 360Media Inc., for example, offers ViewZoom, a program that enables companies to stream YouTube videos to a custom player on their web sites. The player appears on a site as a small thumbnail that expands and plays in a separate window when consumers click on a button. That way, the YouTube video doesn’t take up too much valuable page space.

360Media says the technology also can help boost companies’ rankings on Google and YouTube because each time a visitor mouses over a video it counts as a user view on YouTube. This, the vendor says, increases viewing numbers more than if the video were only on YouTube, and thus drives up the video’s ranking. The player also allows for comments, which also can boost a video’s ranking with YouTube and Google, 360Media says. Purse retailer TopDesignerHandbags.net uses the feature on its e-commerce site.

A video isn’t valuable unless it loads quickly and seamlessly for consumers, and Brightcove offers a service that addresses that requirement. Once a company creates a video and uploads it to the Brightcove site, which hosts the content, Brightcove provides a small snippet of code that a company adds to its site to present the video.

However, because a consumer’s Internet connection speed can range from broadband to dial-up, Brightcove provides six types of video code. The Brightcove technology detects a visitor’s connection speed and presents the content in the most appropriate format.

Brightcove also offers analytics data about videos as part of its offering. Companies can, for example, see points in videos when consumers most often drop off. That way a company can adjust a piece to put the most captivating scenes first. And in its more robust packages, Brightcove offers video integration with an e-commerce company’s content management and inventory systems. This could provide helpful features such as automatically removing the Buy buttons when a product is out of stock or enabling a company adding a new product page to automatically add to the page videos related to that product.

Brightcove’s services start at $99 a month for 50 videos, 40GB of bandwith and one user on one account, rise to $199 per month for 200 videos 100GB of bandwidth and two users for one account, and increase to $499 a month for 500 videos 250 GB bandwidth three users and one account. Prices for more robust professional and enterprise accounts depend on the features customers add, such as geographic filtering, the amount the player is customized or branded, and the amount of bandwidth.

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