April 14, 2014 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
Engaging Consumer Experiences of Brands through Video
The EXPO platform
is used by brands to capture and distribute product video across brand,
social and retail web sites for all screens and devices. Through EXPO,
brands activate their communities to share, via video, unbiased product
reviews, how-tos, demonstrations, and other experiences that align with a
brand’s content marketing strategy. These persuasive videos harness word of
mouth to drive engagement and conversion across owned, earned and paid media
while supporting campaign messages, communicating product benefits, and
capturing video SEO. For more information, visit: corp.expotv.com.
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – April 14, 2014
CEOCFO: Ms. Kwon, what is the concept at EXPO Communications?
Ms. Kwon: We illuminate consumer experiences through video. Then we try to use those videos to inform other shoppers so they can make a more confident and informed decision about purchasing products.
CEOCFO: Who is your typical customer?
Ms. Kwon: We have a couple different ways to think about it. One of the constituencies that we think about are the brands with which we work. The brands who choose to work with us are those who want to help us set free consumer experiences with their products. We work with iconic brands to find people who have tried their products or use their products and capture their experiences on video. The other customer we think about -- they do not actually pay us -- are the people who are watching the videos. We need to make sure that the videos we provide them are helpful, informative and really unlock unique value as they go shopping.
CEOCFO: How does the process work?
Ms. Kwon: When we try to capture consumer video, it’s really to uncover authentic and sincere product experiences. We’re very careful to insure that consumers do not feel they have to say only positive things and that they can really try to inform other shoppers in whatever way they feel is important. In order to unlock that level of sincerity, we maintain a platform of consumers at EXPOtv.com where hundreds of thousands of consumers come to share their product experiences on video. They are the kind of consumers who are what we call “Brand Connected Consumers”. They often share their opinions and want their opinions heard by both friends as well as by brands. They come to our site and we make it fun and exciting for them to participate, and make them feel valued for their effort. We can gamify their experience with a points program like airline frequent flier programs or invite them to try exciting new products that have not even reached the market yet. That is how we generate the reviews; we try to create a fun, exciting place where consumers feel valued for the effort that they put into making it a good video.
CEOCFO: What is the key to making a good video and what do you understand about the process that others might not quite get?
Ms. Kwon: What makes a video helpful is something that we focus on every day. We are trying to make a valuable video for somebody who is shopping. Through our technology, we can capture actual user data about whether a video moves someone to purchase or not purchase. We have a new measurement that we’ve enabled for clients called an EXPOsure score. We score every video on persuasive shopper aspects like whether or not the video contains product demonstration. Did the consumer show before and after results? Are they the right target user for that product? It even goes down to details like whether the video was lit properly. Many YouTube videos you watch are not thinking about lighting or if they are in the right room for the viewer. It is kind of weird to see someone talking about an electric razor in the garage. You want to see them in the bathroom. All those little things help a shopper absorb and digest that video better when they are watching it. These are the things we have learned over time about what shoppers really need to be able to see. This isn’t your father’s text review.
CEOCFO: Once you get the videos, are they posted on the client’s site? How are they used?
Ms. Kwon: Part of our mission is to put our videos everywhere the shopper might be looking for it. Early on when we were younger, the only place we could put it was on our own site. Then we started publishing some to YouTube as it became more of a search destination. As the clients looked to their own properties, they said asked if we could publish them on their brand website, their mobile site, and Facebook page. As shoppers turn more and more to retailers as their product research destination, we then evolved and moved into retailers like in Amazon or a Wal-Mart where we distribute our videos directly on the product page. We started with the innovative retailers out there who realized that video was moving conversion for them. That is one of the challenge with online retail -- shoppers cannot really see the product in action, so we created a way for people to be able see the product in action in a home, on a counter. Consumers who watch video on retailers convert 64% higher than those who do not. Those are the places, over time, that have expanded where the videos have gone. We really try to get it wherever people might be looking for information about products.
CEOCFO: Are the videos branded with ExpoTV?
Understanding the source of videos is something of growing importance both
to advertising regulators, brands and consumers. We brand the videos to
ensure that viewers can track it back to EXPO and they can find out how
those videos were created. We want viewers to know that our videos are
created in an atmosphere where negatives and positives were welcomed, so
that they can feel this was not a paid, scripted video that was created by a
manufacturer. We brand them to distinguish how our videos were created, as
we think the more authentic and sincere videos, like EXPO’s, are better
absorbed by someone watching.
Ms. Kwon: I joke around in the company that our only sales limit are the industries who don’t want to hear from their consumers…meaning basically no vertical is off limits. We found that we had some early on innovators in the consumer packaged goods area, so we work with some of the larger conglomerates there like P&G or Kimberly-Clark. Those types of companies know that the women who were buying their products are opinionated and could illuminate their product benefits for other women in a trusted way. If you just ask a consumer what would make a helpful video, you think about things like computers, automotives and things that are more complicated -- like how you set up a smart TV. But again, the ability to hear from a real user of a product doesn’t have bounds of complexity. Sometimes you just want to hear what others thought of the simpler purchases you have to make every day.
CEOCFO: How do you screen potential video makers?
Ms. Kwon: What we do is try to create a very open platform where everyone feels welcome but we do “human screen” each and every video. We provide that service in order to come up with that EXPOsure score that I mentioned, where we try to figure out if that video is going to be helpful to a shopper. While we’re screening, we actually have the screener check off whether or not the video has demonstration or the product was out of the packaging and being used, or even that the person using it reflected who that product is for. For example, having a non-parent review a baby stroller isn’t really a helpful perspective for someone looking for stroller information. The quality of information within a video is part of our screening process. We will transcribe the videos in an automated way, but it is human screened so we can uncover the most helpful videos.
CEOCFO: When you are engaging with a client, is it for a set number like 100 videos? Is it for 3 or 4 months and see what develops? How does that work?
Ms. Kwon: We solve different business needs, so have a number of different processes. One of our most requested solutions is to help shopper marketers provide differentiated, unique content on retail product pages. The challenge there is to cover all of a brand’s priority products, not just one important one. In that case we have an ongoing program for them open all year-round. There are more very specific marketing needs that they might have such as a campaign for a new product launch. In a new product launch, you are really trying to differentiate who that product is for as well as what are the new product benefits. We offer those more targeted videos in another process that includes the ability to generate video prior to the launch of a product. The question to the marketer is what their goals are where consumers can help get a message across to other consumers.
CEOCFO: Does the company get to screen the videos before they are put up?
Ms. Kwon: Clients we work with agree that all quality videos received will be published regardless to positive and negative, without editorial screening from the clients. The only exception to that is where client lawyers screen for unsubstantiated legal claims, like if someone said the product helped cure cancer. The brand has a responsibility to ensure that incorrect and misleading statements are not made by anyone, whether them or a consumer. Other than that exception, clients agree that they will put up positive and negatives. That is part of the way we operate. Other companies operate in the “let me make a commercial for you” way of suppressing/censoring videos submitted by consumers. That is just not the way we do business or the way we think the consumer should be treated. It’s funny you asked about “screening the video”, as I was waiting to see if you were going to say, “screening the client”. In some cases, clients have chosen not to work with us because they were not that brave about their product and did not have that faith in what consumers would say. It is kind of a two way screen that we have; are the clients ready for this and will the consumers act properly too, to create a great video.
CEOCFO: How is business?
Ms. Kwon: It is great; we are coming up on our 10th anniversary. We have amazing offices in New York and have a great team that believes in what we do. Our mission is to illuminate consumer experiences to inform shoppers everywhere. We are constantly working within each industry and each specific sku to figure out how to best accomplish our mission with each client. It is a very challenging job because we are innovating so fast with our clients in so many industries. It is a very fun mix of all the new areas of digital marketing – video, commerce, and social.
CEOCFO: Put it together for our readers. Why pay attention to EXPO communications?
Marketers are under tremendous pressure to find, create and offer persuasive
content across the exploding number of consumer touchpoints online.
Marketers are less focused on the traditional, “Did I get 100 million people
to see my commercial?” and are focusing much more on, “But are they buying?”
Our content helps marketers understand the impact of their marketing choices
through an ROI-driven model. Video can be digitized and then put everywhere
in the digital retail ecosphere. Our KPIs then become stats like dollar
sales, percent conversion, which are the highest forms of product
engagement. People trust other people more and more than ever before. When
we were growing up, it was Consumer Reports and then a neighbor next door.
Now it is strangers that can really move you, when you believe they’re
people like you. Commerce content is now incredibly trackable in a way that
it has never been before. Because our content can live everywhere, we can
help marketers learn “What was the consumer’s digital purchase path”? That
is an edge that a marketer needs to get and there are not many end to end
digital providers that can give them all of those touch points and KPIs.
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