In part 3 of our series on selling video, we're going to look at digital media (you can catch up on our introduction to the series here or Part 2, Pros & Cons of Physical Media, here). While there are still plenty of valid reasons for selling video via physical media, many companies are choosing to make the switch to digital. So today we're going to run down some of the pros and cons of digital media for selling video, and attempt to get at some of the reasons businesses and individuals have for going the digital route.
Selling Video Online - Digital Media
Let's examine some of the positives involved when you decide to sell your video in the form of digital media.
Pros Of Digital Media
No Physical Inventory/Storage
Because the product is digital, it takes up no real physical space. This is a benefit for both consumers and video sellers. Consumers don't need to worry about storage space in their homes, and businesses don't need warehouses or storerooms.
Consumers today are pretty demanding, both with what they want and when they want it--which is usually "now." Digital video sales allow for that instant gratification. Customers streaming paid video can begin watching immediately, while anyone opting to download can at least start tracking the download progress right away and still get their video much faster than physical media would allow. There's certainly no need to wait a few days for shipping. So digital video beats physical media hands down when it comes to feeding that consumer's immediate hunger.
Streaming or Download
There are options with digital media that make it attractive. For instance, there are popular cloud services that stream paid video to consumers... but there are also download services. Both have their benefits: streaming video begins immediately, but downloaded video gives the consumer complete flexibility on the timing and setting of their viewing experience.
Without the usual costs associated with producing and shipping physical media, costs do go down. However, it's not as though there aren't costs to plan for with digital video sales. You'll need to consider hosting and bandwidth, and marketing costs don't go away just because the medium switches. But there are virtually no reproduction or shipping costs with digital media, which can add up to a nice savings over the long haul.
Cons of Digital Media
Education/Lack of Familiarity
Some consumers are on the cutting edge of new technology, while others remain a few steps behind. As a whole, the culture has embraced online video, and a lot of the hesitancy we used to see with older generations and new gadgets is disappearing. But don't make the mistake of thinking the transition is over. There are still millions of people in the U.S. and around the world that are more comfortable with something they can hold in their hand... a physical product. Some are just not interested in learning another new technology.
Your customers will help you make your decision. What kind of people are you doing business with? Are they more likely to want the latest technology and digital downloads or the familiar routine of buying and watching a DVD? A lot of you will have members of both groups in your demographic, which will leave you with a tough decision--unless you choose to go both routes for now.
Format Domination by DVD
This is similar to my last point, but despite online video's rise to popularity, DVD is still the dominant format for the heavy hitters in video sales: Hollywood. Netflix may have signaled their intention to make streaming their future with the price hike this summer, but part of the reason for the backlash they've seen has to do with how many customers aren't ready to abandon DVDs as a format.
The tide is turning, but it's more glacially paced than you might think.
With the switch to digital media, there are going to be some costs--not all of them financial. You and your staff will need education and training on how the company processes change now that there is no longer a physical product. That kind of thing can take some time as everyone gets adjusted.
One of the reasons some companies choose to hold off on the jump to digital video sales has to do with the technology itself. Technology is rarely perfect, but it's so complicated that when something does eventually go wrong there are very few people who know how to fix it. Servers crash... downtime happens... it's important to find the right partners in the move to selling digital video online, so that if a crisis does occur, you'll have peace of mind and a good response time.
As with our examination of physical media, it's tough to draw any iron-clad conclusions. Every business is different, just as every consumer is different. The first step to knowing whether physical or digital media is the best path for you is knowing your customers. If your company caters to Generation Y or younger, there's a good chance you can skip some of that learning curve stuff with the jump to digital media. However, if you mostly serve senior Americans, you might be wise to continue using DVD--at least as an option.
Next time in Part 4, our final installment of this Selling Video Online series, we'll go through a great checklist for any business weighing physical media versus digital media for their videos, in the hope we can guide them toward the best decision for their company.