Early last month, The Internet yellow pages company Yellowbook announced the launch of a new YouTube channel , exclusively for their customers with video ads produced by Yellowbook, with optimization of those video pages for YouTube and Google search results. Today we interviewed Patrick Marshall, Chief New Media Officer for YellowBook, on how the rollout of this program of is coming along, and tips for their customers with video ads on how they can enhance their own traffic and leads with the YouTube program.Grant: You originally announced your program about a month ago. How's the rollout of the program coming along?
Patrick: The process is going pretty well. We've sold 3,000 videos, and the ramp rate from after our announcement is pretty high. Within the next 30 days we expect to have all 3,000 videos up on our YouTube Channel. We've already had our one of customer's videos viewed over times on YouTube, so we're pretty pleased with that.
How do you transfer the Yellowbook data over to YouTube?
Its manual at the moment, but we are having an automated process being developed, that will automatically upload them. The reason we don't have a lot on our YouTube channel right now (34 customer videos at the time of this interview), is because they're in the process of transitioning to an automated proset. Once that's going, the # will increase dramatically, along with the sales of the video.
Yellowbook's press release mentions their having a "content distribution agreement" with YouTube. Do you have any arrangements with YouTube that might not be available to a typical account holder?
No, actually it's quite standard. We've been very interested in video for a quite a while. We've known some of the folks at YouTube and their parent company, Google, for quite some time now. We originally approached them with this idea of doing this and asking for their feedback, and they thought it was a great idea. But there's nothing special or proprietary about it. You can understand from their point of view on why they wouldn't want it to be a non-standard deal, since there's really no monetary transaction that's taking place between our companies.
Did you feel that you needed to check with YouTube on for that?
We didn't need to, but we just wanted to bounce the idea off them, see if it was something they thought would be interesting and if they'd really like us to do. They said they liked the idea and gave us quite a bit of support in setting it up. But there's nothing in there that's proprietary or exclusive.
Does any new work have to go into making this YouTube listing for every customer (with a video package)?
Yes, there is some extra work that has to go on. When we launched it (and this is apart from the distribution agreement we have with YouTube), with video you have many opportunities you don't have with a standard web page for SEO purposes. So we've been kind of exploring what some of those things might be. Examples might be keywords associated with the video, that come directly from the video's audio (speech) content. All of our videos have pre-written scripts, and we have access to all of those. That to us is the way you can start creating a direct keyword relationship with the video that's quite definitive and descriptive.
How about speech-to-text technology for automating the content delivery?
We are exploring speech-to-text engines, and we've found a few that are pretty good, although not as many as we originally thought there would be. At the scale were working under, you really have to automate this; it can't be done manually. Because we have a low pricing entry point for video, everything we do has to be as efficient as possible, and therefore we have to find a way to automate these activities.
Can your customers also can get their own copy of the video for their own use outside of the YellowBook program?
Yes, our customers can certainly do that. We want our customers to use the videos any way they can. The more use they get out of it, the better results they'll get, and that's good for both of us. We actually had one individual who wanted to extend his video to put up on United Airlines flights; it was a nationwide business and we thought it was pretty clever.
Can people also use these videos for advertising on television?
Yes, we can give the video to customers in the video format of their choice. There are different standards for different broadcasts, so the customer can take the original video can and format it differently if they need to, or they can have us do it for them for a small charge. Our videos are done in high definition (HD).
How about customers who have their own YouTube channel? Say they wanted to have the video featured as well. It actually doesn't seem that YouTube makes a real issue about duplicate video content (i.e, the same video on more than one YouTube channel).
Yes, that happens all the time on YouTube. There can be many versions of the same video available on YouTube, from different posters. But we find that our customers who already have a YouTube channel are pretty savvy about this. They don't really need a whole lot of our help to do that. We frequently mention to customers that they have that option and they can set that up for themselves. But most of our customers don't really seem that all turned on about doing that. There are lots of places that their video can be distributed, and our customers are happy to have it distributed across other sites, and we can provide them with the quality audience that they're looking for.
The nice part about video is that it doesn't require any effort on the part of the merchant when the video is showing. It's only when a prospect or consumer contacts that merchant that they have any work to do. Having it widely dispersed really isn't as taxing. They're not going to be getting phone calls from people that are just going to watch it for entertainment value. On the other hand, the curse of it is that video out-of-context is not helpful to the merchant, either. Unless its in the right context, its not going to generate the kind of leads that they'd like to get.
Any other Video SEO tips you have for Yellowbook customers?
There's a lot they can do with our video program. One of things we encourage customers to do is simply embed the video into their website, if they have one. What they're doing through YellowBook.com is bringing traffic to their website, as well as by phone or email leads. So having video on their website is also very helpful. Also, there's a million places to distribute video on the web, so we encourage our customers to put up their video, but be careful that its shown in the right context. They should not put up their video anywhere just for distribution's sake. If their distribution in the right context, it will be much more helpful to them than just doing it randomly.