The future of video search beckons
It all started with the craze of bidding for the best seats at Lady Gaga’s only show in Hong Kong in during March this year. My wife is a Gaga fan and I willingly converted. Having learnt from a friend in the entertainment industry that HK$3,000 was the price tag for great seats, I began to search for alternatives online.
Our Gaga Saga
Not surprisingly, my Google search result of ‘Lady Gaga’ and ‘concert’ was a string of our favourites – ‘Paparazzi’ and ‘Poker Face’ concert videos on YouTube – and a listing of Gaga’s official concert website and a page sponsored by two Google ads on top of all search results. I clicked on the ad that said ‘Lady Gaga The Born This Wall Ball Premier Concert in Seoul’, and there, I had the best seats secured (with just HK$1,000 per seat), air tickets booked, accommodation reserved, everything done and paid on my iPad in 20 minutes. Our trip was spontaneous but fun with Gaga’s beats and Korean food and shopping spree in Dongdaemun.
Online Video Rising Trend
I went back to my research on the trend and the viewing rate of online videos. It is interesting to know the Hong Kong web population watch more than 160 online videos and spend nearly 12 hours viewing videos a month in 2011, whereas the top three ranking countries of Canada, the United States and United Kingdom account for 303.7, 286.3 and 268.6 videos a month respectively. Online video usage is rising steadily, with China recording more than 325 million users or a usage rate of nearly 63.4% last year.
Threat to Traditional Search Engines
Also making a sea change in Greater China is its exponential growth in online market, where users begin to search through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo and the likes. They do not only pose a potential threat to the market share of ‘traditional’ search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu and Sina, but also save one’s effort to jump from one site to another, or even the need to open a new tab or new browser window.
Squeezing or Switching Your Marketing Dollars?
Some brands shared with me their struggle with squeezing marketing dollars in the coming two quarters (Q3 and Q4), to deliver even better financial results from last year in face of potential economic uncertainties. I advised them to channel their campaign dollars from TV or outdoor to online video-based marketing. According to a survey finding, more than 65% of marketers are planning to do so globally, and a quarter of them are seeing online and mobile videos as the areas to witness the largest spending increase in the coming two years.
Raise your SEO Ranking Through Strategic Vlogging
Additionally, more Internet users are accustomed to online video content consumption: they consume TV shows, drama series, instant news, live sports events, music videos, movies or even know-how type of videos on the Internet – on their desktop or through their mobile devices anywhere at anytime with the new bandwidth of 4G LTE.
Hence, brands and corporations are now not only using AdWords, Ad banner or pre-video TVC through various online video-sharing portals such as YouTube, Youku and Tudou, but they are also starting to build their own ‘branded channel’ and ‘vlogging’ (via which they can strategically post their brand’s video with specific tagging system), which both help raise the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) ranking on ‘traditional’ search engines (yes, Google loves video content and web video does improve SEO), as well as to lead the viewer back to the brand’s social media site or official website.
‘UGC’ Builds Higher SEO Ranking
Some brands are also hiring ‘bloggers’ to upload blog posts or editorial content with embedded videos. This way the brand is appealing to two different types of audience: the ones who read blogs and the ones who watch videos. This type of user-generated content (UGC) makes it easier for the two different categories of audience (visual and auditory) to like, share, and tweet the content, which will up the brand’s ranking on search engines. Most importantly, it helps the brand to create a personal connection with customers, whether via blogging or vlogging.
Converting Connection to Sales – Start by Making it Clear, Concise and Fun
The truth is people love web videos. Online videos occupy approximately 70% of the top Google listings and 85% of the people are more likely to make a purchase after viewing product videos. Making your own brand’s video content is not that difficult, yet you need to be mindful about keeping each video posting under two minutes and make sure the content connects with your viewers. Remember, videos are meant to inspire and educate viewers and prompt further interest in actual telephone or email enquiry – or, ultimately, to the shopping cart on your official site. But these videos are not your nagging sales people, so make your video message clear, concise and fun, and post them strategically.
Foreseeable SEARCH Future
In my last discussion on the powerful cloud computing, speedy 4G LTE / HSPDA+ network and HTML5, user experience will be greatly enhanced in terms of content richness, functionality and interactivity. I foresee mobile devices (mobile phones and tablets) to surpass desktop traffic in terms of mobile playbacks in 2013. More UGC and branded videos will be uploaded and searched on those emerging branded channels and various video sharing platforms. The online search industry shall turn to video result-based and the ad dollar business model shall be redefined.