January 18, 2007, 12:00 AM

Online video not necessarily an expensive proposition

With retailers like OfficeMax shooting programs for use on its site with the likes of ABC, some e-retailers might write off online video as too costly. But the cost of basic, attractive display or demonstration videos can be surprisingly small.


With retailers like BabyUniverse.com launching a 24/7 online video channel and OfficeMax shooting programs for use on its site with the likes of ABC, it’s no wonder some e-retailers might write off online video as a costly non-starter. But when it comes to creating basic, attractive display or demonstration videos, the price can be surprisingly small.

Ensuring an e-commerce site has technology that can display video-Flash, for example-and the bandwidth to ensure a good site experience for shoppers/viewers is a must, but many e-retailers already have these things in place, experts say.

From there, a merchant can inexpensively set up an in-house video studio. “Buy a Mac, which comes with video-editing software built in, a high-definition video camera, Photoshop, and you have yourself a good little studio for around $3,000,” says Eric Heneghan, co-founder of Elevation Inc., an interactive marketing and technology consulting firm. “The investment simply depends on the kinds and quality of videos you want to shoot and how much content you want to create.”

The investment can be really low when content is free. In addition to producing an original fitness show and airing live bodybuilding show webcasts, which cost $7,500 and $15,000, respectively, Bodybuilding.com gets much of its content from customers and product manufacturers, videos that demonstrate crunches, explain the latest supplements or, plain and simple, show off amazing physiques. “Some people are in the mindset of doing TV, thinking they need $1 million to do a show,” says Ryan DeLuca, CEO of Bodybuilding.com, which first posted online videos in 2000. “But online video is just not overly expensive.”

Shmuel Gniwisch, CEO of Ice.com, which is readying an online show, puts it simply: “It has become cheap and ridiculously easy to do.” Ice.com is No. 193 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; OfficeMax is No. 6 in The Guide, BabyUniverse is No. 235 and Bodybuilding.com is No. 139.

The Internet by its nature creates barriers between shoppers and products, Gniwisch adds, and online video enables an e-retailer to remove some of those barriers. “Web pages get a life of their own,” he says, “instead of just presenting a more static view.”


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