Soon after launching its online media-editing application One True Media, a California-based multi-media company, discovered that small-to-medium business (SMB) owners were among its most enthusiastic and prolific customers. One True Media's Web site allows users to edit personal media, such as photos, music, video and text, to create mini-movies that they could then e-mail or post to their own Web sites, blogs, or elsewhere on the Web.
"We started noticing last year that many of the videos being created were made by businesses," said John Love, One True Media's COO and co-founder. "They were using our creation tools to make video advertisements, how-to-guides or customer testimonials. That got us thinking that our service ‑ which lets a non-technical person put together something that is very TV-like and easy to use in an inexpensive and quick fashion ‑ might work very well for the business market."
As a result, One True Media officially launched SpotMixer, designed specifically for businesses, in April. "What we have done is taken our underlying technology, re-skinned and slimmed it down to a feature set that appeals to businesses," said Love.
Many of the videos created by businesses through SpotMixer usually end up on that company's home page, YouTube, advertising Web sites, on national guides like Yelp and CitySearch or online yellow pages.
"We made it as simple as possible for the business owner, but it's still high-quality production," said Kathleen Farley, director of product marketing. "It lets the customer get in and out quickly. We feel that this levels the advertising playing field between small businesses and large corporations, which is exactly what we are trying to do."
An Emerging Trend
Online video advertising is emerging as a trend among SMBs, according to Carmine Denisco, CFO and president of Florida-based BizFlick.com. "With the advent of online video Web sites like YouTube and the digital technology available today, it's much easier to get commercials online without spending a lot of time or having to hire a videographer or an editing company."
Amy Shuen, a management-practice professor for the China Europe International Business School and author of Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide, agreed. "Things are definitely very hot in the Fortune 500 space but it's just emerging for the Fortune 50 million and local/regional space."
Shuen credits Google for paving the way for SMBs to enter the online video advertising space.
"Google opened up the long tail of advertising," she said. "In the past, only large companies were able to afford TV advertising or large media campaigns. What Google did with its pay-per-click advertising would actually allow small businesses to have an audience of millions of online customers worldwide. That guarantees you actually have five or 10 times more return on your advertising dollar than if you had done a spot on the radio."
Search engines like Google now provide video within their search results. Benjamin Wayne, founder and CEO of California-based Fliqz, a plug-and-play video platform, calls it one of the best search engine optimization techniques that exist today, but most people aren't taking advantage of it.
"None of the search engine crawlers are capable of reading Flash tags, which means that if you have video on your site, search engines won't find it," said Wayne. "But if you submit it via media RSS into the search engine repository, you have an opportunity to be one of the small pool of videos that show up in the search results."
Wayne expects to see more small business owners take advantage of online video advertisements in the near future.
"About a year ago, there was a lot of conversation about online video, but only large advertising enterprises actually did it because of the price points and the technology complexities," said Wayne.
However, with lower cost and simplified technology, Wayne believes that over the next one-to-two years, more small businesses will come to see video advertising as a necessary part of their marketing mix.