Tim Frankcom – Time to set your sites on video

Information sharing in the form of ratings and reviews is now a relatively mature area (in web years at least), but the latest layer of information sharing is just emerging – video sharing – and it’s got a lot of people talking, and spending.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has bought MySpace, Google has bought YouTube, and Yahoo! has bought Jumpcut, an online community for video editing and sharing.

While the growth of this sector heralds exciting opportunities for all marketers, perhaps the travel sector is its most natural partner. Who, for example, hasn’t been tempted to share their holiday video with friends after an amazing trip?

Yet with more people publishing their own videos, the challenge becomes how to access the videos relevant to you.

Tagging technology has brought a solution that combines the power of community with search technology. Videos can be tagged with descriptive references and arranged by themes enabling users to search for videos relevant to their interests. Travel planners considering a safari in Kruger National Park, can now check out what to expect, by searching for videos tagged ‘Kruger safari’.

Just as travel advertisers who have encouraged peer-to-peer communications around their products and services reap the benefits, so too will those who are able to leverage users’ own videos by collating videos based on brand-related themes.

Nonetheless, the emergence of video search offers enormous potential beyond consumer-to-consumer relations.

Travel advertisers seeking to use video in business-to-consumer relationships can now actively participate in video communities by submitting their own videos.

In many ways they are ahead of the game when it comes to video, with many already having integrated video into their sites. Not only will this type of video search enable travel advertisers to submit a feed of destination videos or a feed of all its hotels within a hotel group, it will also find this existing content on an advertiser’s own site. Moreover, reporting services such as Yahoo!’s My Studio will enable advertisers to monitor user interaction with their videos.

Just as much of the success of search advertising lies in engaging users who are already looking for you, the same advantages apply to video search. Travel advertisers who create their own videos that act as the advertising tool will be able to target users who are searching for either their specific service or are open to suggestion.

Equally, it is essential to ensure that these ads are positioned where users are receptive to them and where this does not disturb the user’s primary goal in visiting the site. Advertisers need to address their desired audience in the right mode.

By using video advertising within selected destination guides on Yahoo! Travel, Thomson was recently able to reach users who were already disposed to learning more about a destination and provide them with a useful new facility to do so. The destination videos were served within a branded page reinforcing Thomson’s link with the destination and the operator was able to position itself as a service provider.

Although traditionally advertisers have used videos to reinforce a user’s decision when they have already decided to visit the advertiser’s site, by using this type of video advertising placement, video advertising can be used to actually drive traffic to advertisers’ sites.

Video is only in its formative phase, but as broadband adoption increases, the global evolution of video is set to open up a whole world of possibilities for travel advertisers.

Tim Frankcom is general manager for Yahoo! Travel Europe

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