Some online vendors have promoted to their customers video search engine optimization solutions, simply by allowing them to assemble stock footage from their digital media library – and with no unique video content produced at all. However, video compilations where the entire, or vast majority of footage, is widely accessible stock quality, has never shown to achieve any notable prominence in the search engines or any viral distribution, simply because they're not focusing on what they should – unique and engaging content. ez show is a prime example of how a company that banked on that claim for their entire business model eventually became defunct.
Video SEO (with no unique video required!) – the failed business model of ez show
In May of 2007, a new company named ez•show announced themselves as "The First Complete Online Video Ad-builder" where businesses could "make their own ads in just a few minutes!" Their process was meant to be a turnkey solution for businesses with a smaller budget ($1K-$10K) for producing and marketing video for online, and with the extra appeal to business of them not needing any equipment or software of their own. Ez Show offered a digital media library, do-it-yourself online editing (where the business could choose your clips), and a publishing area where your ad was being promised to go out to their large distribution network of sites. The model was actually somewhat similar to SpotRunner, the video solutions program that was meant for a television broadcast audience, with pairing of digital media and insertion of some graphics and text that represented the actual business.
The ez show publishing process
First, you were supposed to select all of the footage from their digital asset library (music, voice, images, videos), assemble the selections, include any text, transitions and other effects; then, have it published to the web. It's "Video SEO" tools are promoted on its website as follows:
- A "publish" feature, where you were to enter keywords and your website address, but never gave any indication of how these keywords would have any impact on whatever sites they were to be distributed on.
- The ability to "link to your video ad from anywhere on the web"
- An "email feature that lets you send your ad anywhere."
After checking out ez show's publishing interface in the demo area, I couldn't see any essential SEO tools that would be considered standard for video publishing. There were no distribution features to the search engines, or to YouTube, or any video sharing sites; no Google Video Site map, no RSS feed, etc. What's worse, ez Show did not allow customers a copy of the actual video file, so the customer wouldn't be able to do any of these submissions on their own.
No "viral" video content
While ez show's stock footage was of good quality, they were simply standard all-purpose commercials - totally unoriginal and forgettable. There was nothing in there that would be engaging enough on its own for people to want to share it with anyone else. But here's what's much worse: It doesn't take great marketing savvy to realize that ez show's video ads could actually harm their clients' business, simply because they would create for customers a false visual impression of the actual operations, location, building interior, displayed items, etcetera. For example, when I was shown a restaurant video, it had scenes of a very specific looking dining room and outdoor terrace with a skyline. (OK, how many restaurants have an outdoor terrace with a skyline? Or an ocean view??) After watching all of their other ad types on their home page - floral, health and fitness club, furniture store, and I was left scratching my head - do these guys really think that its acceptable to have a video ad for a business that actually looks nothing like the actual business?? And if you even get to the analytics, they're downright horrible. The reporting would only show views, and nothing else. Other features promised for 2008 such as calls-to-action and click-thrus, never have materialized.
My ez show / CEO meeting
I happened to meet up with the CEO of ez show, Bernie Day, back in 2007 when I covered the Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago, when she was manning her company's booth. I queried Bernie about what I perceived as her company's ads creating this potentially serious consumer confusion. Her response to me was along the lines of that customers don't really care about the actual look of a business, and they're really just pleased that the business has a video. (??!) I then asked for how they were actually optimizing this video content for the search engines. She said that ezShow had some major link partnerships where the videos were featured on highly popular websites. I asked for a few examples, which she first refused to share with me. After I pressed her and said I needed some sort of evidence to back up her claim, she relented by showing me what must have been her best example - a Los Angeles website geared for the African-American community - very poorly designed and not at all as "popular" as Bernie claimed it to be. Now its seems that after a year in 2007 when they were doing many press releases and conferences, 2008 has made them virtually silent. My Emails to their company are now bouncebacked, and phone calls are never answered. Even a link to their highly touted online "retail media network" (at ezshownetwork.com) is now a broken link. ez show has become a ghost-town, a site with false expectations and leaving a black mark on the online video ad marketing space for SMBs.
What any business should look for in a Video SEO ad publishing solution
The lesson to this story: If you're a business looking into using a turn-key publishing solution for producing and promoting video content online, make absolutely sure it meets the following criteria:
- Ability to upload your own footage (video, audio, vocals). If you want to have your video stand the best chance of "going viral," make it all unique content. Otherwise use stock footage as sparingly as possible!
- Ability to do your own post production editing online (graphics, text, transitions)
- Ability to submit the video directly to the video sharing sites.
- Has an acceptable media player which can be embedded and displayed on any web page of your site.
- Ability to share with others (embedded link, email, etc.)
- Ability to have a copy of the final video do to with as you wish, so you can publish it elsewhere.
I myself have been hard-pressed to find a publishing company that can offer a turnkey online video SEO solutions program (both production and distribution) to SMBs. Mixpo has an excellent program but does require going through one of their own partners, which for now may be the best solution available for most businesses. (Prices I was quoted for by one of their providers, Comcast, started off at $3K and also provided for distribution through their large and reputable site network, which makes it a very good deal.) My key point is that when it comes to Video SEO, there are no tools or digital media library that can ever be a substitute for unique, engaging video content you should be producing yourself. Relying on stock footage will never be the answer simply because its not original. Video SEO is not simply about entering keywords; its about providing a memorable (and hopefully unique experience) that gets people to act and make them want to share it with others. If you take enough pride in your own business to consider it at least in some ways to be unique, then your video certainly should be, too.