The Three Types of Online Video for Business

So much has changed about the way we absorb information in the past few years. Can you even remember what accessing the Internet was like ten years ago? In 1999 one of the most used features in Netscape's Navigator was the ability to uncheck Autoload Images. Once you did that you would only get text, no pictures. Page load times were crucial as users were often paying per minute to their phone service provider in addition to whatever they were paying their Internet service provider.

Jump forward to 2004 and everyone was starting to sign up for broadband, but no one was watching video online (especially business videos) it was still too heavy. Short clips would be distributed via email inevitably resulting in your inbox getting clogged up trying to download 5 Mb attachments from the server.

Then in early 2006, things started to change - instead of video being attached to emails people started sending links to a mysterious new site called YouTube. Even more exciting was when people started sending links to sites and blogs other than YouTube that had embedded videos that were hosted by YouTube.

By the time YouTube was acquired by Google for $1.65 billion in September 2006, everyone who used the Internet regularly had seen one of their videos. Once it became common practice for people to watch video online, it was only a short time before it became an essential part of the experience. As the commercial world started to exploit the power of the Internet for business, it became clear that online business video would be co-opted into that fight and made available by almost every business with an online presence which, by 2009, meant every business.

Why Video for Business

Brightcove recently published their "Top 6 Reasons B-to-B Marketers Need Videos" as follows:

  1. Grab people's attention instantly
  2. Tell your story in less time
  3. Bring your ideas to life
  4. Make your site stickier
  5. Create a buzz with viral video
  6. Bring your website into the 21st century

Parsing that list into three types of video based on their natural homes – embedded offsite, on the site's homepage and within the site – helped to identify the three kinds of online video for business:

  • Viral Video
  • Conversion Video
  • Educational Video

The Three Types of Online Video for Business 3 types business video

Business Video #1 - Viral Video

If online video got its first big break with the advent of YouTube, then Viral Video was the first breakout star for the medium. It's a classic case of business noticing what's going on in the real world and then trying hard to catch up.

Viral videos were the natural result of the culture of sharing that began once everyone you knew and/or did business with went online. Before there were viral videos, people shared jokes or inspirational PowerPoint presentations. The first viral videos were just evolved versions of the same.

As the demand for content grew, people started crafting video with one eye on making them go viral. There were several factors to consider. In order for a video to have a chance at becoming viral it needed to be most of the following:

  • Original
  • Unusual
  • Unexpected
  • Funny / Mysterious / Sexy

In addition there was one more ingredient, a compound of timing, luck and Internet serendipity, that was required for true online ubiquity. Almost impossible to fabricate, this elusive quality is still the thing that prevents most attempts at creating a viral video from succeeding. Nevertheless businesses leapt at the chance of promoting themselves through video usually by replicating a formula that had already achieved some success or notoriety.

Viral video differs from the other types of video in terms of its location. Viral video is at its best when it is found outside the company's site. Viral video is all about distribution and promotion. The company's aim is for the video to be embedded in many different sites to reach as wide an audience as possible. This is not always a good thing. Once a video can be embedded outside the company's site the company loses control over the surrounding text and, perhaps more worryingly, the surrounding pictures and ads. If you allow your video to be watched anywhere, you have to consider that viewers may see your logo and messaging juxtaposed with less savory images.

Metrics for Success

How do you measure the success of a viral video? It's not enough to consider the number of views only, although this is important. If you are looking at views, you need decide "how much is enough?" The most popular videos on YouTube have been seen tens of millions of times. In order for your video to be considered a viral success, you might not need anywhere near those kinds of numbers. It depends who your products are targeting and whether or not you were noticed by the right kind of audience. If the video is hosted on a video sharing site like YouTube, you might want to look at the number of comments your video receives to get an idea of the level of "buzz" you have created.

You can use a company like TubeMogul to upload and track your video across the internet but you probably need to combine that with your existing site analytics to judge whether or not it has an impact on your traffic. If you're aiming for a success metric that is even more intangible such as brand-building or buzz-making you will have to work out your own metric for success.

Creating a viral video is a bit like catching a fish… with your hands. It's slippery and almost impossible, but if you manage it, you'll feel fantastic.

Business Video #2 - Conversion Video

With all the uncertainty surrounding viral video, it seems much safer to manage video with more tangible goals. There are a number of reasons why site owners would want to place a video on their site. Video is a great way of engaging site visitors. Engaged visitors spend more time on websites. More time spent on websites means more opportunities to make money.

The most important thing for a commercial website is to identify the goals of the site. As you build multiple points of entry to your site you should carefully define the conversion goal for each. These are some of the most commonly seen conversion goals for commercial websites:

  • Enter Your Details – the aim of the site is to get visitors to give you contact details that can be used immediately or later to contact the customer and initiate business
  • Download This File – installing the file may be the first stage in turning the site visitor into a customer
  • Buy This Product – a direct inducement to the site visitor to pay money in return for a product or service
  • Deposit Now –used by companies to establish the financial relationship that turns browsers into committed customers
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The Three Types of Online Video for Business 2009 11 25 1319 Once you have a clear conversion goal for your landing page, a good conversion video should focus on driving users to that goal. Video does that in a number of ways. To begin with, a conversion video, like any other kind of video, should be an engaging experience drawing viewers in and helping them to spend more time on the site. A successful conversion video should carry a clear call to action. This can be part of the script, part of the visual, part of the player or any combination of the three. The call to action in the video must be aligned with the conversion goal for the page the video sits in to ensure that there is a clear path for the viewer to follow.

A brief review of the available material on the Internet throws up an abundance of lists of tips for making your corporate video. If you have questions about any aspect of video making from the perfect duration to the perfect volume, you will find someone with an opinion on the subject. The best thing you can do is to start with what you think makes sense and to test it on your site.

But before you can test the effectiveness of your video, you need to make sure people are watching. There are many ways to promote the viewing of your video on your site. Once you have produced a video that you are happy with, you owe it to yourself to exploit as many of these methods as you can. First of all you want to ensure that people can find your video. Make it visible and accessible. If the video is a key part of your conversion strategy for a page then make sure people know where it is. Once you are happy with its location on the page, you should consider having the video autoplay. If autoplay seems too aggressive there are variations you can try such as having the video autoplay without sound (but with subtitles) until the viewer opts in to listening as well as watching.

Metrics for Success

The Three Types of Online Video for Business 2009 11 25 1319 001 375x296 If the goal for your conversion video is to increase conversions then the metric for success should be easy. When the number, or the percentage, of your conversions rises then the video is a success. Depending on the conversion goal, increased conversion can have a direct impact on the revenues of your company. It is no wonder that more and more companies are focusing on conversion video as the most likely to provide a return on their investment.

Business Video #3 - Educational Video

Educational video probably doesn't sit on your homepage. There are a number of reasons for adding educational videos to your site and, unlike viral and conversion videos your educational video can help you achieve multiple goals without detracting from the video's success. That means your educational video doesn't have to be quite as tightly focused on a single goal. With educational video you have the freedom to build towards a number of achievements.

Primarily an educational video is there to educate. But, educational video can also help to establish trust and thought-leadership. Visitors to your site who move beyond the landing page and begin to delve deeper into everything your site has to offer may be looking for more information. We know that video is an excellent medium for distilling information and enquiring visitors can find much to satisfy their curiosity in a well made video.

Good video can be a real differentiator for your company against your competitors. You can use the videos to do things that other people in your market are failing to do well. If a visitor learns everything he needs from you, he's more likely to come back when he's ready to become a consumer.

Educational video can also take the strain away from your customer support team. Linking your videos to an FAQ or any other part of your online support can help answer some of the questions and pain points that would otherwise make their way to a customer representative. The interaction can often be even more satisfying with the customer feeling they were able to get the answer they wanted in a format they are at ease with.

Educational videos can guide viewers through a difficult process and help to ease the concerns of nervous browsers. Educational videos can help to build a mentor-mentee relationship between the site and its visitors which must have a positive impact.

There are fewer restrictions in Educational video in terms of duration and messaging. It's probably not smart to load your Educational videos with sales messaging, but beyond that there is a freedom to communicate clearly knowing that anyone watching is doing so with less enticement that other forms of video.

Metrics for Success

Educational video may be one of the hardest types of video to manage in terms of ROI. The production costs are as high as other forms of video but success should not be measured by the number of views. There are other metrics that should be captured such as 'time spent on video' or how many chapters of your video were viewed. Not every player will provide you with this kind of data, but it can be invaluable for establishing ROI.

The Three Types of Online Video for Business 2009 11 25 1351 375x259 Educational videos are less likely to be promoted than other kinds of videos. They are more correctly positioned and targeted to specific customers at different stages in the sales cycle. Educational videos are designed to prevent customer confusion and deliver clarity.

If your Educational video is aimed at reducing the number of referrals to customer support then, then a clear reduction is the best measure of success. Beyond that tangible proof, the success of educational videos is notoriously difficult to determine.


Once you are committed to making video part of your corporate marketing strategy, there are still a number of questions to be asked. Choosing which kind of video you want to produce may depend on how you measure the return on your marketing spend. There are risks and rewards for each kind of video, but there is no denying the potential impact of the medium. Harnessing that impact and using it to your advantage is one of the key challenges facing online marketers today.

About our Guest Author:

Daniel Sevitt spent several years at Metacafe heading the content division and working with online video creators from independent producers to established Hollywood heavyweights. He worked on content acquisition and development, helped create branded entertainment experiences well suited to the short-form video environment and oversaw Metacafe's content standards and copyright policies. Daniel joined EyeView in May 2009 to discover that there was more to life than "unmanageable UGC, unimpressive CPM and unaccountable ROI".

  • Chris Parker

    I thinks this article is pretty good as well, I am in the process of researching to start my own website and I definately plan on using video as many ways as I can. I love the idea of sharing media and my goal is to come up with some type of site that can do that very easily for people. Any thoughts would be appreciated, I would love to talk to someone that knows about good ways to get started. Thanks

  • Darcie King

    I know I'm late in finding this article, but it's great! I love the history of the internet & online video. I remember being at a videography convention in 2001 and they asked, how many people have a website - about 1/2 the room raised their hand! Then they asked "how many have video on their website?" and only a handful of people did! How times have changed in the past 10 years.

    Darcie King

  • info

    One thing is really interesting, Not many businesses use Youtube as you would expect ??!! Can't think of valuable reason .... i.e. it is perfetct to use it as a product or company promotional platform (especially when we think about video) and for property ads i.e. but real estate agencies are wasting money uploading to other "specialized" webistes whose video quality can not compare with Youtube. Now, with improved reporting features and captions and subtitles included, it is really difficult to understand 'why?'. I work for Miles Multimedia Office - - mostly on creating Property ads and trying to promote use of Youtube but without reasonable explanation real estate agencies are just following their old connections throwing a lot of money in wind ... It is the same situation with other industries as well ...

  • Selena Kelin

    I have visited many of blog but did not get such impression with content creation and information as here. It is an inspirational stuff.


    Great article. The three types of video is so simple yet so important!Rick Gehlhaus

  • Michael Bayer

    Another great tip when creating a conversion video is to find out what people "want to see". It is not a bad idea to think about what kind of information the viewer is searching for before creating the script for your video. You also can then address the major issues that people want addressed in your video.

  • Texas Attorneys Listings

    Adding a Video as the article detailed it, is a must, now it's wise to use discernment as to what to broadcast. Rather who to broadcast.
    In Texas there are many lawyers that utilize videos to reel clients. Often attorney's mugs look more like defendants than defenders!
    Also it is not often the best idea to put yourself on your home page if you're looks are not "camera friendly". The discrimination is huge among viewers.

  • Nickolove Lovemore

    This is a great article and the clearest explanation I've come across of the 3 main types of videos businesses can use and how to optimize them.

  • Easy Video Player

    I expect 2010 to remembered as the "Year of Video" online. I work with partners and clients to develop video marketing strategies for their online businesses. This article gives a great focus to simplify creating videos with 3 main goals in mind.

    Simple is always better. Thanks for the tip.

  • Michael Locke

    This is a great post! ... love this blog. Been preaching these video tips for years now. Love it.

  • Online Business

    The concept of marketing online with videos has been explained in great detail here and I would definitely would like to implement these ideas for marketing my own sites.

  • mrbizzoom

    Daniel, great insights into video for online business generation. The graphs rock!

  • gerryoginski

    Excellent post Daniel.I am a strong believer in education based video for professionals who "sell" their services. By creating educational and informative video, you become the trusted expert; the wise man at the top of the mountain. Importantly, you become the expert without ever having to say "Come to me, because I'm the expert."I use video to help market my legal practice. I educate my viewers about how medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits work in the State of New York. Viewers across the country contact me daily to thank me for providing this material.The ROI you get from educational video is quantifiable in the sense that it gets a viewer to call. I know that when a potential client calls me and the first thing they say is "I just saw the video you did about the woman who suffered a bowel perforation, and I have a similar case," indicates not only that they watched the video, but they connected with the educational content in the video and felt comfortable enough to call me to ask for more information.Keep up the great work!Gerry

  • hdproductions

    Hi David you have encapsulated the 3 motivations for video from a business perspective and how they differentiate in approach.

    James Wood
    HD Productions
    Online Web Video Marketing

  • videos4good

    What a great summary. I will certainly use this as a guide when I help my clients figure out what kind of video they want to make. Great stuff. Thanks from NutIntuit Studio (!

  • Nalts

    Shit this is the best post I've seen about online-video in ages. Brilliant, and I finally get to see what Daniel Sevitt looks like. He "discovered" me on Metacafe when I had about 11 YouTube subscribers. DS- I find it frustrating that many companies have video content either in their file cabinets or on their site, but fail to populate it online. While I'd rather see them adapt content to the medium, it seems a crime not to at least post what they have for SEO... nobody's going to find it on their site, non?

    • Mark Robertson

      I met nalty nalts last week and I feel like we're now buddies - he
      even reads reelseo now.. Yippee

      Hey Nalts, did you see the post about your cuddly tips :-)

      Oh yeah, and Daniel is the man.

      • Daniel Sevitt

        I "discovered" Nalts the way Europe "discovered" America - it started well enough until I introduced intoxicating spirits and smallpox and it's been downhill ever since.

        Thanks for the love guys and thanks to Mark for creating such a great forum.

  • Jeff Whatcott

    Thanks for quoting from the content of the Brightcove webinar on this topic. There is also a white paper on this topic available for download at:

    The paper discusses the use of video across the entire customer life cycle.

    I do agree that it is important for organizations to realize that posting videos on a video sharing site is only one of several ways to use video for marketing purposes.

  • treepodia

    First, a word of disclosure: I'm affiliated with the automated ecommerce video solution provided by Now that that's out of the way...I’ve just finished reading the post and although I appreciate the work put into the analysis, it seems to me a fair deal of beating-around-the-bush is being done here.I know it's a heavy accusation, and you can call me coarse or unsophisticated if you like, but I've always believed there's a lot of truth in the line uttered in "The Good the Bad and the Ugly" by Eli Wallach:"When you have to shoot...Shoot! Don't talk"Let me explain: With all due respect to the Brightcove points Daniel quotes in this post, I'd like to make a few points of my own: - The purpose of a business is TO MAKE MONEY. - Online retailers make money by SELLING PRODUCTS. - The primary purpose of online video for retailers is TO SELL PRODUCTS.To paraphrase Wallach:"Pardon me pilgrim but 'Grabbing people’s attention', 'Telling a story' & 'Bringing ideas to life'... Heck, that all sounds like a lot fancy talk to me"Although ‘Bringing their website into the 21st century’ sounds really impressive, I'm pretty sure 99 out of 100 vendors would prefer using video to SELL THEIR INVENTORY. Let's go back to basics:Video, indeed any form of advertising or marketing, has little or no value for its own sake. Its value is as a means-to-an-end. For etailers that end is TO DRIVE SALES. According to this logic the best way to judge the addition of video to your site is by the impact it has on your bottom line. If you can get a good impact on your conversions for a low investment - GOOD FOR YOU, you've done well for yourself! I might be old fashioned, but getting the best-bang-for-the-buck seems to me to be what a good business is all about.Our experience has shown us that adding video to a product's listing can impact the conversion rates for the product by anything from 35% to 300%. We’ve learned that premium & complex products often show greater impact on their conversion rates because clients are more inclined to make a hefty purchase after watching a video that explains a premium product’s benefits. Going back to my bang-for-a-buck point from before: It's every etailers duty to his or her business to get these conversion rates at the LOWEST COST and effort possible - no small feat when one considers the vast majority of online retailers have over 500 products in their catalog.When one takes into consideration these facts it's easy to understand why automated video solutions that are able to create thousands of product videos in a matter of hours, have already been adopted by online retail powerhouses such as Ice .com, Diamond .com, EyeBuyDirect .com, Elady .com, ElectricShopping. com, and others. I guess when you're as successful as these guys you know only too well there's a time for talking and a time for shooting... ; )Cheers,Mike@treepodia

    • Daniel Sevitt

      Hey Mike, great to hear from you again.I think your points reiterate everything I said about Conversion Video and how success for that kind of video must establish a direct correlation between expense and increased sales. I think etailer specialists like Treepodia and SundaySky offer really exciting automated video solutions that bring the cost of entry right down with a one-size-fits-all, automated video that is little more than a slide show with music. I'm also happy to relate that some customers want their conversion video to be a little more personalized and animated. Check out our Customers page for examples:, I do think that companies look to online video for other purposes as well, as elaborated in the article, and while the ROI is harder to find, it cannot be dismissed. Some of our clients such as eBay and Yahoo! have commissioned educational videos that exist within their sites. They do not drive traffic to those videos but the videos exist to build loyalty and a relationship between the viewer and the brand.Always great chatting with you and I love the quotes from Wallach "the Ugly". Very cute.

  • Jeremy Campbell

    I think companies need a combination of all three to have a successful online video strategy.

    I love that diagram, it very clearly outlines the type and outcome which is simple to understand and hopefully implement.

  • jefflong

    Great explanation of the types of videos. We educate our clients on the different types and this does a great job of articulating. Great article.

    Jeff Long