AppForum is a great place to find innovative and exciting business ideas. One mind-blowing example came in my interview with Larry Zusman of XMPie about their dynamic video offering, uDirect® Video and how marketing service providers can leverage it to raise the bar – and the results – for multi-channel marketing campaigns.
Video is a terrific additional channel for multi-channel marketing campaigns. Videos stand out, they have high click-through rates (MediaMind recently reported that click-through rates for online video ads is 27x banner ad rates and 12x rich media ad rates while Wistia recently did a test finding email click/open ratios of 38% for emails containing videos vs. 12% for rich media versions). Videos are an effective way to get messages across on mobile and tablet platforms. Plus, they have a wow-factor that is unbeatable when personalized with variable text, images and embedded video clips. Take a look at the example Larry provided to see what I mean.
While personalized videos like that look impressive – creating them is not as daunting and expensive as it may seem. XMPie’s uDirect Video is desktop software that plugs seamlessly into Adobe® AfterEffects® creating a stand-alone system that costs under $10k plus maintenance. With it you can create and edit movie templates and then combine these templates with standard CSV files containing and referencing the personalized content used to render the personalized MP4 movies. Best of all, these standard format movies can be accessed via QR codes to mobile devices, or from a Personalized URL. Of course, you’ll need to store these videos on your own server or upload them someplace like YouTube, and you’ll want to integrate the links into your multi-channel marketing system. But overall it’s not a huge expenditure for adding an exciting, additional marketing channel.
But, what kind of skills do you need for these great videos? Creating your own would take some serious cinematography and programming skills, but editing one is much simpler. It turns out that there are sites like www.revostock.com that sell professionally created stock templates that you can use to drop in your text, images and video clips (look at the template Larry used and you’ll see just how little he had to do). These are the same templates movie studios and television stations use to create their trailers. They have layers that Adobe AfterEffects uses to apply various effects so that users can easily drop in custom text, images or video clips. uDirect Video adds the capability of linking the database to the template and automatically rendering the personalized movies. This means that these personalized videos can be created by a technically astute user with minimal Adobe AfterEffects skills and virtually no cinematography training.
Since these videos are individually rendered and stored (and are large files), this isn’t a broad-based tool for deploying huge quantities of videos. But it does present fantastic opportunities for campaigns with moderate volumes, multi-versioned movies, and certainly for high-ticket item campaigns. Imagine:
- Real Estate where the QR Code on a postcard, or link on a website, leads to a video containing images and key selling points about the house.
- Student Recruitment to sway accepted students to select a college with videos containing favorite sports clips, images of their desired dormitory, student life, their name on a diploma, etc.
- Alumni Endowment campaigns asking “how will you be remembered” with clips and images relating to the specific department where they earned their degree 50 years ago.
- Auto, high-end retail, travel, entertainment and others where a video is worth a thousand pictures.
To net it out, the plusses are that this tool delivers powerful wow factor, is playable on almost any platform, at an affordable price, without a lot of high-tech skills. The minuses are that the movies can’t be rendered on the fly, require sizeable storage (10MBish for each mobile-friendly, 30-second video), have significant rendering times (ranging anywhere from 1 to 15 minutes for each 30-second video), and, while they can be batch rendered, rendering can’t occur in an automated fashion. But, stay tuned, XMPie will be announcing new automation and other enhancements to uDirect Video in the coming months.
So, by itself, this is a neat gimmick, but with the right vision XMPie’s uDirect Video could be the jewel of multi-touch print, email and social media marketing campaign that drives massive results. It is not a general purpose tool at this time but could be perfect for the right client and, since the solution is in the early adopter stage, whoever steps up to use it has a huge opportunity to differentiate themselves from the crowd.