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To follow up on the news item this morning that Spotzer has partnered with MerchantCircle, I was able to catch up with CEO Andy Klein here at the DMS conference.

The deal will most notably bring ready-made video ads to MerchantCircle’s base of 600,000 listings (about 7,000 are currently paid advertisers). Prepopulated videos will include simple business information that is overlayed on stock video and images. This info is scraped and automatically added to videos, which are presented on MerchantCircle listings for business owners to show up and claim (prompted by telesales).

These simple templatized videos are free, with the option for upsells to more customized videos. Price points are $39 for exclusive regional rights to a video, $69 for a custom voice-over, and $79 for custom photos and logos to be added throughout videos. This joins the widely varied service models throughout the nascent video space, where providers are experimenting with salability and elasticity of video pricing.

“We’re trying to figure out price points for broad-based adoption,” says Executive VP Valerie Taylor. “Give them a chance to incrementally take on the next level of commitment.” To that point, the base level videos are a foundation to be built upon with extra features or periodic business promotions.

The next step in this evolution will include additional overlay features for calls to action that make the videos more “direct response.” This also lets videos be distributed broadly, beyond business profiles (such as search engines), where calls to action and tracking features follow them wherever they go (see what Mixpo and AgendiZe have done in this area).

The manner in which videos are able to be customized on the fly and updated over time has a lot to do with the back-end production architecture, according to Klein. This includes disparate elements of a piece of video (voice-over, logos, business details, etc.) that are created and stored in different places, then brought together in whatever way works best for a given distribution point.

“It can be customized in real time,” says Klein. “These additions are layers and it’s all server based.”

For example, with each video, a low-res version is created for online streaming, but a high-res version is also saved somewhere for additional customization or broadcast distribution. This leaves things open for advertisers to step up their video strategy as they grow, or as seasonal factors dictate.

In MerchantCircle’s case this customization for the advertiser will correspond to whatever service levels and price points it chose from the above options. For further distribution, the Netherlands-based Spotzer is in the midst of a U.S.-based bus dev push, with lots of publisher and channel deals in the works that we can’t print just yet.

These will include local directory publishers, online verticals and aggregators, as well as online newspapers. This strategy generally targets SMBs as well as larger brand advertisers and mid-tier advertisers interested in locally targeted video.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Were they able to give any insight on how they think having templated ads without any business info other than the phone number provides a good experience to people looking for local information? Or were they explicit with their plans to use this solely for SEO and cheap traffic?

  2. Can be personalized with still photos of a business and custom voiceovers, etc. Will be used for SEO on these MC landing pages, but more so to meet advertiser demand for video.

  3. Yes it can be personalized if the advertiser pays, but in reality, the vast majority of these videos will be for unpaid advertisers, meaning zero value-add for users and they’ll get in the way of good videos businesses may be producing for themselves. I’m just constantly amazed that, with all the negative things MC has done, they keep getting tons of positive press for questionable actions.

  4. To be clear, as one of those 600,000 free merchants, I have created alot of content on my merchantcircle page they can use in a video. To say a video of this cool squirrel talking is not high art is true….but it is very entertaining to suck users into engaging with all the stuff I wrote about my DJ business. In fact, the free products that they keep giving us is pretty cool. We get something new every month. Alot of this i first see when one of the other merchants in my town start using them.

  5. Brad — true, the majority will be stock.
    I Also recognize MC’s questionable retention tactics, as separate from this move. We’ve covered that here and remain watchful of it. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, and I’ll wait to see how they push these videos before i slam them for it. Thanks for calling that out and thanks for your engagement. Keep comments coming.

  6. This is pretty similar to I think charging for these minor upgrades can be a big headache. I could see how business owners could get very picky about having to pay for these minor upgrades.

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