A New Breed of Video Platform: The Video Commerce Platform

by Ellen Ambrose in General, Selling Video Online, Web Economics / 03.30.10

In the online video world, the term video platform typically refers to an outsourced application or SaaS (Software as a Service) for uploading, storing, encoding, publishing, reporting and delivering the finished video product to a single destination (website) or network.

There are several online video platforms available on the market today; however, there are only a few dominate players.  In the past, online video platforms have been primarily focused on ad supported revenue models. The functionality of the video platform allows for advertising to be placed before, during and around the video content.  The past performance data has shown that the advertising revenue model for online video is a difficult pathway to profitability.

Enter stage left a new breed of video platform.   Consider the possibility of access to most features that the large video platform players offer but instead of selling advertising around the video content, actually selling access to view the video itself.  Access is typically defined as a single view, unlimited views within a defined time period or actual download and ownership (similar to purchasing a DVD).

What makes this model different is that the payment process is built in and the publisher has the ability to conduct a sales transaction and stream video from the same platform. This functionality creates a seamless experience for both the user and the publisher.   Further, the publisher has combined access to sales transaction history, performance analytics and metrics similar to what a merchant would experience with an online store.   This is an important distinction between a traditional ad supported video platform and a video sales platform.   A video published through a sales platform is actually sold as a product instead of being offered for free with advertising.

In addition, a video commerce platform allows a video catalog to be organized and presented in a storefront format where customers can browse through video content by category, watch previews, read descriptions, ratings and reviews.  Further, the content owner/publisher has the ability to merchandise, control pricing as well as the visual appearance of the storefront so that the storefront shares the same look and feel of their website, project or brand.  This functionality allows customers to feel like they are still navigating through the original web property.  Because the payment process is built into the platform, the transaction experience is smooth and straightforward.  Post purchase, the customer is able to stream or download the video(s) on demand as well as access the video content in the future (during the access period or forever depending on the individual terms of the video).  Last but not least, a video commerce platform should have the ability to integrate with the iPhone (and other smart phones apps) as well as the iPad.

Another consideration is cost.  This new type of video commerce platform has a performance element built in to the pricing.  In a typical situation, there will be a small ongoing monthly fee combined with a revenue share split where the majority of the sales revenue is paid to the publisher.  This is a favorable pricing environment to a video publisher/content owner because the platform service provider is willing to share some of the risk and has skin in the game (i.e. platform has incentive to help the publisher succeed).

Because the video commerce platform is a relatively new product on the market, it can be difficult to compare and contrast the providers who are offering services in this space.  Here are ten things to consider when looking for a true online video commerce platform:

  1. A high quality media player.
  2. The ability to offer previews for each video as well as the ability to embed the media player (with previews) in a website, blog and/or affiliate partner sites.
  3. Stream and download functionality with expiration.
  4. A customizable video storefront template (i.e. not just a customizable player).
  5. The ability to sell an individual video as well as a series of videos (i.e. for offering entire courses, video packages or boxed sets).
  6. Secure commerce.
  7. A focus in the video space (vs. the general digital download space).
  8. SEO functionality built in and marketing support.
  9. Sales transaction reports, performance analytics and metrics.
  10. Ratings, reviews and comments functionality.

A large benefit of working with an outsourced video platform is the ability to plug and play and not carry the burden of development, functionality, storage, performance, payment processing and customer service.  Outsourcing these functions frees up time for the publisher to focus on their core business instead of being bogged down with the technical aspects and time demands of building and managing an online video delivery and sales system in house.

An example of a true video commerce platform available on the market today is the MindBites Video Commerce Platform.

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