MerchantCircle and Spotzer Partner for SMB Vids

Amsterdam-based Spotzer and MerchantCircle announced a relationship this morning that will result in thousands of pre-produced videos being placed on MerchantCircle merchant pages. Those videos (either 20 or 30 seconds) feature pre-populated business contact information. They can also be customized a great deal further. Here’s an example of the basic offering:

MC 1

MC 2

MerchantCircle is calling local businesses, alerting them to the presence of the video and offering it free for 30 days. (MerchantCircle’s customer acquisition strategy and tactics continue to be a source of controversy.) After 30 days the video will come down if a local business hasn’t opted for one of the packages, which range from $39 to $79 per month (offering varying degrees of customization).

MerchantCircle said that in the two and a half days since the launch of the offering 2,000 local businesses have indicated their interest in the video by “claiming” it. They didn’t indicate what number had opted for one of the packages, but it’s very early.

There can be no doubt about the value of video and potential interest among SMBs. The issues and challenges surround sales, costs and scalability.

Spotzer CEO Andy Klein spent some time on the phone with me trying to differentiate what he’s built from some of his competitors. We agreed that “the network” of local filmmakers has become something of a “commodity.” Klein said that what differentiates Spotzer is its infrastructure and video serving technology, which allows video components to be assembled on the fly from a Spotzer database/server when a user clicks to initiate a video stream.

Klein also said that his technology prevented the same video in the same geography (or vertical) from being shown or offered to a MerchantCircle merchant.

MerchantCircle VP Darren Waddell said that the company chose Spotzer after a process that involved scrutiny of a range of potential partners. I’m not sure precisely which companies were evaluated, but Waddell said “We looked at everybody.”

He also said that there was limited demand for the fully customized video offering that the company had previously made available.

Recently in a SMB online survey, we asked more than 1,000 US local businesses whether they were doing any video advertising:

  • Yes: 16%
  • No: 84%

When asked who created the video (aided responses) they said:

  • Friend or relative — 30%
  • Professional service (e.g., TurnHere, Comcast, yellow pages, Spot Runner, local videographer) — 50%
  • Online tools (Spotmixer, Jivox, Mixpo) — 9%
  • Other (mostly themselves): — 11%

There’s no distribution as part of the current MerchantCircle offering (beyond SEO) but that’s being discussed with Spotzer, which has apparently built a distibution network of some sort.

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12 Responses to “MerchantCircle and Spotzer Partner for SMB Vids”

  1. B Says:

    Greg,

    This looks to me like total video spam. Nothing in this ad is customized to the business or provides any real information about the business other than a phone number (tracking # I assume) and the City they’re in. They don’t even provide a street address! By doing this, it seems to me that MerchantCircle is doing their usual, trying to game the system and trick people rather than trying to add actual value. To me, this just degrades the local video space as a whole and is going to make it harder for legitimate videos to gain traction.

    http://local-research.blogspot.com/2008/09/video-spam.html

  2. Julian Says:

    I don’t understand how “pre-produced” videos that have been “pre-populated” with business contact information works? How is all this accomplished pre-involvement with the business? And what does the business get once they “claim” their video? The thought is in the right direction, but the execution seems sketchy.

  3. dax Says:

    I don’t see a ton of value in this proposition but if it was fully customized, possibly a couple pics and clips then maybe? Agree with both above right direction, execution forced^

  4. Andy Klein Says:

    I hope people give this a serious look, because we (I am the CEO of Spotzer) believe there is a ton of value in the videos. Firstly, we make high quality ads and videos and we make them in a methodology such that they can be easily and very inexpensively customized to reflect information, images and branding provided by a small merchant. And we are now making them highly affordable. Since the search engines clearly favor companies with videos over those who don’t have videos, even the most generic videos have value. If you are comparing our videos with cheap slide shows made from royalty free photos or videos, then you just have not taken any time to give this a fair look. Spotzer shoots live action video based on concept we develop for specific business categories. The creative does not yet work perfectly for some categories (restaurants are hard, for example, when they want to show their food and interiors) but for other categories high quality professional advertising surely seems to have more value than poorly put together on-premise video (go and interview a moving company or a plumber and see what you come up with for $1000.)

  5. Tom Says:

    I love the video. I played around looking at a few and even the goofy squirel one is engaging. I look forward to seeing what happens with 10,000k merchants have custom videos

  6. People are writing a lot about MerchantCircle - Daniel Swartz Says:

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  11. 12thMonkey Says:

    Well, I would not be inclined to make a video to appease a search engine as their algorithms change as often as 450 times per year, like Google’s. Why knock yourself out chasing phantoms? A quality TV or web video ad is the least expensive part of any advertising campaign. Just get a good one from a custom ad producers like hybrid dotcoms like WheelzTV, CheapTVSpots, TVSellsRealEstate or BareNakedAds instead of buying media at a premium from the the ready-made template companies. The tech-sounding solutions seem exciting and romantic, of course, but are not nearly as cost effective as a real person, really thinking about the unique aspects of your product or service on offer. A custom-made ad company such as the examples above, can produce and air a quality ad for a fraction of the cost of a template ad company that may entice with a seemingly low production cost, but tacks on additional commissions to the negotiated network air time rate. A good cutom-made ad then directs viewers to the entrepreneur’s web site for enhanced branding or direct sale. Think about it.

  12. SpotMixer Gains New Funding, Distribution « Screenwerk Says:

    […] trying to build scalable and economically efficient “platforms” for video creation. The Spotzer-MerchantCircle deal is perhaps the ultimate example of automated, mass video-ad […]

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