A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of speaking with Eric Quanstrom, VP of Marketing for Sorenson Media about their online video delivery network, Sorenson 360. In part 1 of my interview, I asked Eric about what their company believes are the essentials for any business to have in mind when selecting a video publishing and delivery solutions provider. In this 2nd part of my interview, I follow up with questions about the actual features and pricing plans of their new video delivery network.
For your entry-level program: why did you decide allow just 2 minutes per video episode?
We have basically seen a number of different opportunity sets that have come our way. 2 minutes has kind of aligned itself best with the opportunities that we're seeing. That said, our sales team basically has kind of a matrix that they use, for designing plans for any business. So we really can accommodate streams or videos of any length, even movie-length formats. But frankly, as head of marketing, it is absolutely not in my best interests, nor do I think in any customer's or prospect's best interests, to read to customers a kind of a Chinese menu or Excel spreadsheet full of options, and try to figure out what they need.
So how did you decide to structure your pricing plans?
I would definitely say, that there's not a lot of transparency out there in our industry right now. It's really hard for a customer get true data on what plan a they're getting for the service they're signing up for. Most people will charge you by gigabytes, which can get pretty complicated, pretty fast.
Our perspective is that pretty much everyone can understand what a video stream is. Relatively speaking, a stream is a lot like saying how many songs can an iPod hold. So there's a gigabit correlation there.
But really, all anyone wants to know is, "OK, can you give me an apples-to-apples of what my customers are going to see, in a down-to-earth language I can understand? "And that's why we went to market in the fashion we did and price-per-stream. The feedback from customers has been overwhelming.
Would you also say that for customers, good image quality is a very high across-the-board expectation as well?
Yes, if you're doing it on this scale, wanting good image quality is expected. I've yet to meet a customer for whom quality isn't part of the equation. They never say, "Ah, I'll just take whatever you got."
With YouTube offering improved image quality and HD options, what challenges do you find with convincing customers to go with paid solutions like Sorenson 360? (Part of it may be explaining to customers that its not an either-or-proposition, with what companies like yours offer, and how it compares with YouTube.)
I agree with your premise, that if inexpensive if your goal and you don't care about another company helping your brand, well then, go with YouTube, because its free and its really hard to compete with free. "Free" has its own habit and inertia built around that. And customers that really don't care about their brand being promoted with YouTube or Google… they've got a great solution.
Now lets get to your video player: What level of customization does Soreson offer with how someone can rearrange or graphic alter the player's interface and features?
We've now introduced customizable video player options, where you can take buttons away, move them around, include your own logo, link to your own site… Basically, with the exception of every color across the rainbow spectrum, you can configure your Sorenson 360 player in any way that you see fit.
What about having video player that can include tabs (for playlists right in the video player), similar to what you can see with Brightcove, or even with Vimeo? Especially when you're dealing with a good amount of video content that you want to be able to categorize, like a directory. Is that something Sorenson can provide with 360, or is there something different that Sorenson can provide when you choose to get to that scale?
It is, and we have it present in our Squish and Squish net services today. But it's not something we've rolled back yet into the 360 product. But its coming. We see it as an evolution. We make a lot of our product and serviced-based decisions based on what we're hearing back from the market.