About this time every year I make a few predictions about what will rate "HOT" for the coming year in the online world. Last year, among other things, online audio topped my list for 2005.
This year, 2006, I see full-motion online video as the "killer app" to revolutionize website communications and ecommerce.
Bottom line: with a digital camcorder and some basic software, you can transform your website into the Home Shopping Network, and with distribution tools like Video.Google.com and video Podcasting on Apple's iTunes, you can broadcast to the masses just like CNN.
Several major changes in 2005 set the stage for full-motion video online.
These include faster, cheaper computers, improved video creation and conversion software, and widespread adoption of the free "Flash" Web browser plug-in (works on PC and MAC).
Combine these changes with the fact that over 50% of all Internet users in the United States got high-speed access as of 2005, and you set the stage for an online video revolution.
In 2006, you will see the equivalent of little online TV stations cropping up all over the Internet.
Along with the free-form, "anything goes" content of video blogging (vlogging), commercial use of full-motion video will fall into 4 basic categories.
Website "Infomercials" - Any savvy business knows the Internet actually represents the largest direct-response advertising medium ever seen.
As such, infomercial techniques of late-night fitness, self-improvement, and real estate gurus will spill over into other niche markets online.
Though initially not 30-minutes long like their TV counterparts, online infomercials will last 2-5 minutes -long enough to get all the main sales points across.
Live Demonstrations - If a picture is worth a thousands words, then full-motion video is worth 100,000 words!
Any product that easily gets sold once people see it in action will greatly benefit from online video.
Also, service businesses such as Realtors can now easily and inexpensively create full-motion video home tours.
And, sellers on the popular eBay auction site can now show and demonstrate their items rather than depending strictly on text and static pictures to make the sale.
Before and After - Anyone selling a diet product, skin care, cleaning, car repair or other product promising specific results for the end user can now "show and tell" using full-motion online video.
Imagine the impact of showing concrete evidence in "before and after" video to help you make the sale online.
Product Testimonials - Despite widespread acceptance of online shopping and ecommerce, many people remain skeptical and somewhat leery of purchasing anything online, especially based strictly on promises made on a website.
With video testimonials you can put their minds at ease by showing video of people who used and benefited from the product or service.
Imagine the impact that will have on the trust and credibility for any website.
A word of caution to all would-be online videographers: dial-up users still make up a huge part of the online population, so you must always try to offer them a dial-up-friendly option to watch your video or receive your information.
Don't cater strictly to the high-speed crowd because you'll alienate a significant portion of the marketplace.
Copyright 2005 Jim Edwards
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