Video is still riding an incredible wave of popularity. Users have an insatiable appetite for it, and businesses are discovering new ways every day to use video to help them grow their brand and customer base. What's more… video seems to be increasing conversions for many online retailers. That means that video can move past the "fad" stage and into the "certified business tool" stage.
So it should come as no surprise that Yelp is diving into video. Yelp, if you are not familiar with them, is a website for regular consumers to review businesses in their area. One of Yelp's more popular services is their advertiser platform, which allows businesses to gain preferred search result placement in Yelp searches. Those advertisers also gain access to extra features they can use on their Yelp listing… like the new video service.
To provide and power this new video listing service, Yelp is partnering with TurnHere—one of the leaders in video production, and someone we wrote about last Fall. Much like StudioNow, which was recently purchased by AOL, leverages a huge network of filmmakers across the globe to help provide affordable video production services to businesses that previously didn't have the necessary cash to spend on such services. In addition to having their videos appear on their Yelp listing, customers will also have options for having their video syndicated across the web.
Under the terms of the new partnership, Yelp's customers will receive two different options for incorporating video into their listing: Standard and Premium. Standard Video customers will have a 30-second slideshow made from a series of photos provided by the business, with background music and a custom narration.
Premium Video customers will get a 30-60 second custom-made video that will be filmed at their actual business location by one of the TurnHere network filmmakers. Here's an example shared over on the Yelp blog of an end product spot for a Premium Video customer:
This has the potential to be huge. Yelp attracts over 30 million unique visitors a month and is one of the most popular U.S. websites. The only real question in my mind is the cost of that Premium Video level, which I can't seem to find information on (but it is just the first day the service has been announced). If it's too expensive, businesses might not buy in. If it's priced low enough, then this could bring small businesses to the world of video like nothing before. The concept is beyond solid.
I spend most of my days consulting with small business customers, and all of them want to be "in" video. The tipping point on video happened a while back. Nearly everyone I meet with now has questions about YouTube and how they can leverage that for their business. But the two biggest hurdles to small businesses diving into video head first are cost and expertise.
Small businesses seeking to get going with online video can either pay someone to do it for them, or create the videos themselves. And, as I'm sure you've noticed, good video production is not cheap, which leaves the average American business owner to their own devices for creating video content.
Unfortunately, most of my clients are not videographers or filmmakers. They're bakeries, or hardware stores, or mechanic shops. Most of them don't have a modern video camera, and those that do probably aren't terribly comfortable with it. And most of them have never written a commercial script in their lives… they're not writers, they're entrepreneurs.
What's missing is something in between… something that allows a business to have professional video content without a huge cost. And that's the fundamental need Yelp and TurnHere are trying to remedy. It will all hinge on how good the videos actually are, and how much buy-in Yelp can get out of their advertising customers. If both of those pan out great… then there's no short-term ceiling on a thing like this. Because believe you me… small businesses are salivating to get into online video. They've seen it's power for bigger brands, and are actively seeking ways to harness that power for their own niche. If Yelp and TurnHere can deliver the goods, it may bring tidal waves of small and medium businesses into the online video world. And I say… the more the merrier.