Invodo recently did a three month study that looked into the efficacy of the video view rate, how it applies to ecommerce and why it is an important metric. Since a lot of readers have products to sell I thought it shed some light on some important facts that might be of interest to many of you. I'll combine their results, such as they are, with some of my own thoughts.
View Rate, VR, is the percentage of page impressions that generated a video view. One video view for every one hundred page hits is 1% VR. This is assuming that you don't autoplay your product videos, which I wouldn't recommend to begin with, not being a fan of video that automatically plays when I arrive at a page.
Now, in the Invodo research, they're drawing a direct line from view rate to conversion. However, the numbers here will most likely differ for every product and every company.
Invodo, in their Watch this! 2012 report, reviewed video view rate data over a three month period between March 2012 and June 2012 from a wide range of our online retailer clients, including Sports Authority, Verizon, Moosejaw, Lenovo, and many more.
That's pretty sparse information on the process and, to me, means that there's going to be a lot of 'wiggle' room in these numbers. They don't give us specifics on all the possible variables encountered nor do they give us differences across products or companies or even video placement on the page aside from pre/post-fold.
However, it's still some interesting information that might help you optimize some of your product pages with video.
Put it Above the Fold
The Fold, is an old term from print advertising, referring to the immediately visible area of something, like a newspaper or website. For websites, it will clearly differ based on the resolution and window size of the browser or device.
Invodo states in the results that the view rate is 5.24% when the video is "above the fold" or in other terms, immediately viewable when the page loads. When it is below the fold there is a drop of almost 1.8% to a VR of 3.43%. That's pretty much two more video views per hundred pages and, if you find that the product video has an impact on conversion, could turn into a lot of revenue.
They used three resolutions for this assessment: 1366x768, 1024x768 and 1280x800. As a side note, I don't use any of them personally I use 1920x1080. According to Google Analytics, for ReelSEO the top three are: 1024x768 (38%), 1280x800 and 1336x768. For GDN it is 1366x768 (13%), 1024x768 (11%), 1920X1080 (10.9%) and 1280x800 (10.2%).
So you can see that site to site, this will vary wildly. The key to putting your video pre-fold is to look at your stats and find the lowest resolution that makes up a good portion of your audience and be sure that, when the page is viewed in that resolution, the video is viewable. For all intents and purposes, you could design for 1024x768 and probably be fine. According to W3Schools, in January 2012, 13% were at 1024x768 and 85% were at a higher resolution. That means just around 2% are below that. StatCounter.com states that around 80% or more might be using a resolution at or above 1024x768 as of July 2012.
Size Matters! When it's Your Call to Action
Another result they found in their research deals with the size of the call to action for your product videos. The bigger, the better. So a large "See the product in action!" as opposed to a small one could have a big impact on your view rate. Invodo drew a line in the digital sand at 5000 pixels, for example an image of 200x25 pixels or 150x34 pixels, etc. So what does a 5000 pixel image look like? This, well, OK, this, is 5100 pixels. Their arbitrary line of 5000 pixels gave results of 4.07% versus 8.14% or, oddly, exactly twice as many views based on their rounding of the numbers.
By increasing the image around 50% I got 11,500 pixels and that looks like this. Look at how small the text is on a 5000 pixel image. I might even say that 10,000 pixels should be the smallest your call to action should be, realistically. Invodo says make it big enough to attract the attention of the consumers. I say, make it big enough to be easily read, seen and ultimately, more effective. Other factors like color choices, images, etc. could also have an impact on how effective it is. So don't be afraid to do some testing with it all.
Better Yet, Use Text and Image for Call to Action
In my example above, I put text on my images. In the Invodo research, they say that using text along with an image seems to work wonders. I'm not sure if they meant use text in the image or separately. It sounds like they're saying use text and image. I suppose, for accessibility purposes, you might want to have a text call to action along with your image. Or at the very, very least, make sure that the title and alt text on the image clearly state the call to action as well. I might just do all of that.
There were some drastic differences in the results they got for the word "video" versus the phrase "click to play." However, no text, did quite well in its own right. As you can see, just putting the word "video" had a fairly negative impact overall while even just a button with no text did better. Doing something like "click to play" or "Check out the product in action" would do wonders for the view rate. Use something that is both clear in what you want the consumer to do and in what the results of the action will be. Saying just "video" or "Click me" aren't going to work well and could be the difference between profit and loss.
Be Spartan in Your Approach
I'm a fan of minimalism and Spartan aesthetics and you should be as well, in the "Simple, frugal, or austere" sense of the word, not the "of or relating to Sparta or its citizens" sense.
When laying out those product pages, don't crush them under the weight of too many things for the consumer to be distracted by, says Invodo. However, their research also shows that if you simply bombard then with options, that might work well also. This whole section of their research was focused on the main content pane and not the sidebars, headers or footers.
It seems that 6-10 elements in the main content window, are optimal and returned a fairly high VR of just under 6%. Meanwhile, pages with 21 or more elements also returned almost 6% oddly enough. The problem with the research is, we don't know what constituted the elements on each page. There is no mention of percentage for text, image and videos that were clickable on any of these pages.
So, my advice would be, keep it simple (I know you're not stupid). Put whatever information on the page that needs to be there to help the consumer make up their mind about the purchase or conversion. Don't bludgeon them with massive numbers of links, images, videos, etc.
That's not to say that you can't include an image gallery or several videos about a product. Just do it sparingly, as that seems to be ideal.
10 elements for a product page
- Video player (perhaps with an in-player playlist)
- Image gallery
- Buy Now!
- Add to Cart
- Add to Wishlist
- Product options (size, color, etc)
- Legal, technical or specific info (shipping, additional information, etc)
- Customer reviews or testimonials
- Alternative options (related products, similar products, etc)
- Look, I've got a spare! Put something helpful here.
That's a Wrap!
As with all research, you need to take it with a grain of salt. While these broad brush strokes may apply to a large cross-section of ecommerce, they might not apply directly to your site or products. Ideally, what these tips from Invodo and myelf might do, is give you a foundation to begin some testing with and see what has the best results for your specific products and pages. Ultimately, whatever works best for you, is best for you, regardless of what others do or what research says.
Gee, that's almost like a life lesson right there...