In a matter of three years, online video phenomenon YouTube has proven to be a leading venue for showing off dumb things friends and pets do or providing pointers on how to make cheese.
Less established is the Web site’s ability to promote a small business. But a growing number of Capital Region manufacturers, retailers and doctors are posting professional and homemade videos on online video-sharing Web sites, trying to draw attention to themselves in a realm dominated by urban ninjas and cellphones popping popcorn.
Area businesses may be new to YouTube, but the Orem, Utah-based Blendtec has already tapped the Web site’s marketing potential. Since late 2006, the blender manufacturer has run a video series called “Will It Blend?” It has 78,790 YouTube partner subscribers, more than any other video channel on the Web site.
To view the video being shown on YouTube to promote Lexington Vacuum, an Albany business, click here.
During each approximately 80-second “Will it Blend?” episode, Blendtec founder Tom Dickson throws everything from glow sticks to a crowbar into a blender. In a recent episode, a white lab coat-clad Dickson blends a Nintendo Wii “Mario Car” video game wheel. He pours the white powdery remains of the hand controller on a table and proclaims, “Nintendo dust!”
Blendtec’s comic and bizarre videos have achieved marketers’ much-coveted viral status, meaning they have widespread viewership in a region or globally. For a business, going viral could give their brand awareness a big boost. But area online marketers warn that creating a video that becomes a YouTube hit can be costly, even though people can post videos on the Web site free.
“Not everything you do is going to work,” said Dan La Bate, a co-owner of Engines of Creation, an Amsterdam Web design and marketing firm.
The video for Harmony House Marketplace in Cohoes is an example of a simple YouTube production. It features an interview of the wine sellers’ two owners as they stand outside their Remsen Street business. Diane Conroy-LaCivita and Jane LaCivita Clemente, cousins and co-owners, retell how they came to open the Capital Region’s only New York-only wine seller in November 2006.
Since an Albany wine connoisseur filmed and posted the video on YouTube in August, it has been viewed 200 times, compared to 195,600 for the “Will It Blend?” episode with the Nintendo wheel controller. But Conroy-LaCivita said the video is not a complete flop.
“We’ve had quite a few people come in based on seeing it,” said Conroy-LaCivita. “. . . It was like two seconds of preparation, and then we went out” to film the video.
Over the past four months, the Central Business Improvement District has posted 10 videos about Central Avenue businesses in Albany. They include McVeigh Funeral Home, Ichiban Restaurant and Lexington Vacuum. The short videos — most less than six minutes long — provide vignettes of some of Central’s mainstay businesses.
The Capital Region Global Business Network in December also posted a series of videos on YouTube about six area companies, including Gurley Precision in Troy and Adirondack Specialty Adhesives in Albany. But unlike the Central BID videos, the Global Network’s videos were developed specifically for an awards cerement hosted by the Albany organization.
“There’s some feedback to it. People say, ‘Hey, I saw you on such and such.’ It validates our existence and they feel comfortable coming here,” said Lexington owner Mark Garzia. He recounts the 62-year history of his business in a YouTube video, which has been viewed over 80 times since late March.
Since Internet search engine juggernaut Google acquired YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion, the San Mateo, Calif.-based online video Web site has become the world’s third-leading Web site.
Nineteen percent of global Internet users visit YouTube daily, according to Alexa Internet, a San Francisco-based Web site ranking firm. In January, one in every three of the 9.8 billion videos watched in the United States during that month were viewed on YouTube, according to comScore, a Reston, Va. Web site tracking firm.
With that drawing power, marketers have tried to use YouTube to raise brand awareness or drive traffic to businesses’ Web sites.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based Google in spring moved to enhance YouTube’s advertising allure by rolling out a free analytic tool. The new YouTube Insight allows posters to see how often their videos are viewed in different geographic locations, how videos were found and when audiences tune into them.
A recent study by the Synergistics Research Corp. found that 36 percent of financial institutions believe it is OK to advertise on video-sharing sites but said it is unusual because people go to them for entertainment and not information.
While 34 percent of survey respondents said posting content on YouTube or Yahoo Video is useful and effective, 12 percent deemed it a waste of time. Seven percent of financial institutions viewed the practice as a risk to the their reputation, according to the survey by Synergistics, an Atlanta financial institution marketing research firm.
Dr. Steven Yarinsky, a Saratoga Springs plastic surgeon, said he has no qualms about having a video about his practice on YouTube, alongside the videos of rock concerts and strange talent acts. He likened posting his 88-second infomercial on YouTube to advertising in television or newspapers, which include an array of crime, sports and entertainment stories.
“It’s a nice segue to our other marketing,” Yarinsky said.
The Saratoga surgeon contracted Einstein Medical to handle his online marketing, partly with the YouTube video. The San Diego-based Einstein has ramped up its online video streaming efforts since Google’s acquisition of YouTube.
“Consumers don’t want to read content-heavy Web sites. They want to see the doctor and listen to him talk,” said Einstein Medical’s Delana Ricasa.
Engines of Creation in Amsterdam is beefing up its Web design firm’s video offerings. While they have developed video content for clients’ Web sites, they have not greatly utilized online video-sharing Web sites in their marketing campaigns. But that could soon change.
“We’ve definitely heard more buzz. . . . We’ve definitely heard more requests [for putting videos on YouTube] than the previous year,” Engines co-owner Paul Langevin said.
Mary Jane Books, a college textbook store in Albany, posted two videos on YouTube last summer, one produced by its staff and one produced by the Capital Region CW television network. In one video, students do everything from dance at a strip club to play music on a curb to raise money for school books.
The commercials have aired on the University at Albany’s campus television network and the Mary Jane’s Web site, and the bookseller posted them on YouTube more as an afterthought. While the YouTube posts have not afforded May Jane much attention, owner Carole Renzi said she is aware of the buzz surrounding quirky online video sharing Web site promotions.
“We have a lot of creative people that work here, so we may come up with something,” Renzi said.
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