I recently caught up with Jamie Parkins from eBay and eCommerce video provider Vzaar. Read on for an update on their business and Jamie’s through on the future.
Could you give us some background for Vzaar?
In April of 2007 founders Ken Moss and Ian Snead approached Adrian Sevitz an ex-eBay employee with an idea of creating a marketplace where the hook was that items were sold with video. Adrian was quick to suggest that given eBay’s market size this was a tough ask and that they would be better off building a video solution that met the needs of the thousands of businesses that sold on eBay on a daily basis. Essentially a plug-in for eBay and so the service http://vzaar.com went live in September 2007.
A little over 18 months later, vzaar is now the second largest provider of video on eBay, powering around 75,000 video listings a month and have expanded their services to enable simple video posting on any website on the Internet.
Why should merchants use video?
The beauty is that video allows the merchant to really sell the item. You can show a motor car, a diamond ring, a disco laser or a robotic dinosaur in all its moving or shiny glory with video or even its imperfections if you are selling rare and vintage collectables and in part that inspires the buyer to have confidence in the seller and the item.
Helped by a greater penetration of broadband access and a growing confidence in buying online, buyers are consuming online video rapidly. This means there is a really exciting opportunity for commerce to embrace a technology that can help booster sales. Business websites and sellers on eBay often need to think about how they are going to meet ever growing buyer expectations and in doing so differentiate themselves from the competition. Video allows them to do just that.
From day one the ethos behind vzaar was that the video content was the asset that we would sell to businesses. To that end we’ve built a non-branded player that means commercial sellers don’t have to carry someone else’s brand like they do on YouTube. Furthermore, we want the content to be king and so we don’t link to other videos by competing sellers. We want to help convert the buyer. If we do that successfully for the seller then we’ll be happy.
Longer term, the value businesses will associate with video will come in a variety of ways from the ease and cost-effectiveness of having a guaranteed video provider, to the reduction in costly and time-consuming questions from concerned or curious buyers who want to know more about products. Video, when served well, can add real value to a page.
Why should merchants use vzaar?
Put simply we are easy to use. That for me is the key. Business, SMEs, PowerSellers and the like want a simple, easy to use solution that means they can serve video without the fear of coding or bandwidth streaming. So with vzaar it really is a case of shooting your video, uploading it and then adding it to a listing or a webpage.
vzaar user Jack Fitzgerald of Industry Recycles has seen videos “attracting 43% more visitors, and as a result are gaining us more bids, and more sales” whilst seller kurtkiefer was kind enough to say that ”I can tell you without hesitation that the prices our auctions brought with videos are much higher than those without. Much higher.”
In addition one of eBay UK’s largest car dealers, CarGiant told us that their video allows them to ”talk directly to people who are about to spend hundreds or thousands of pounds with us. Making them feel confident enough to buy and trust us as good sellers is vital. So we use our video to show off our business, premises and staff. Buyers know we’re a bona fide firm from our video and they buy with confidence.”
When it comes to cost we are also extremely competitive. For as little as $10 a month a business can stream up to 2GB of video a month free of worry about how the bandwidth will impact their site or their service. vzaar takes the strain there and in return we give you a professional looking video player and a suite of features that make distributing video easy.
How do we differentiate ourselves from YouTube?
The core difference is rooted in our business models. YouTube don’t charge their users to use the service and at vzaar we do. Remember though, nothing is ever really free. vzaar’s founding principle is to provide ecommerce merchants with a service that enables them to use video to merchandise their product or service. We are not a destination site for people to come and watch video, we are a tool for businesses to use to power video on their site.
Vzaar users own their video and their video player. They have control over who sees it and where its published. They also have an unbranded video player so it looks smart and a seamless part of their site. YouTube sell advertising space on their site and video player, so a clients potential buyers will be exposed to anything YouTube decide to display and the “owner” of that video has no control. Not ideal if you are selling let’s say a vacuum cleaner from Hoover and YouTube sell advertising to Dyson.
Our integration into eBay through their API also makes us stand out as we are the only approved video provider that allows eBay sellers of any skill set upload and add video to their listings quickly and easily in a matter of clicks. We’re very proud of that service and it continues to be a popular one with our users.
What does the future hold for vzaar
“There are some really exciting opportunities lined up in 2009 both on eBay and across the online retail space. We are constantly having to redesign our player and the features that compliment it so that we keep up with changes in the video industry. Viewer tracking and search engine optimisation for user videos are just two of the areas we are focusing on. In addition widescreen and High Definition players are coming soon and we have something really exciting in the eBay space bubbling away nicely that we look forward to sharing more on soon.