by: Joseph Mann
Just as consumer Web video exploded last year with Google Video, YouTube, JumpCut, etc., is this the year Web video will take off in business-to-business usage? An article in BtoB Magazine seems to say so:
"Online video is becoming the killer application of the Internet as b-to-b marketers embrace it as an integral part of their marketing programs, using it in such disparate formats as 15-second banner ads and long-form documentaries…"1
Though the article tends to talk about video's potential as an advertising platform (citing projected growth from $US 775.0 million to $US 2.90 billion in 2010 – some enticing numbers to chase), In the B2B sector, I see it more as a medium for businesses to enhance dialogue with their customers. When streaming video segments are produced within the framework of a discussion of customer pain points and industry dynamics, companies – and the executives who represent them – can position themselves as thought leaders in their marketspace while moving prospects along the sales adoption curve – without the eye-rolling that often happens when prospects realize they're not going to get any information of substance from a video clip but are about to be subjected to yet another sales pitch (albeit in a slick wrapper!)
According to the BtoB article, more than just using video to enhance Web banner ads, some companies like IBM are creating "long-form documentaries" to segment and use in variety of ways as a demand creation tool. I believe that's a good approach.
If 2007 is the "Year of B2B Web Video," it is more of a quiet revolution. Many companies have been leveraging video on the Web for the past few years, learning best practices, subject matter and the balance of substance-to-sales pitch to drive lead generation in marketing initiatives. Since 2003 I've been doing it too. The difference from a few years ago is that business-to-business companies are beginning to see this stuff as mission critical: a recent McKinsey survey found that nearly two-thirds of the respondents who were investing in Web 2.0 technologies (including video and podcasts) think they are important for maintaining company market share, creating competitive edge or meeting customer demand. 35% of those surveyed were either using or planning to use podcasts/video in 2007.2 Those aren't huge numbers yet, but its certainly worth testing the waters – before the competition beats you to it.
1 Maddox, Kate."Picture this: Online video generating excitement" BtoB Magazine. April 2, 2007. page 1.
2 McKinsey & Co."How businesses are using Web 2.0: A McKinsey Global Survey" McKinsey Quarterly. March 2007.