“We’re on the cusp of a new era," says David Ketchum, president Asia-Pacific of Bite Communications and chairman of the Asia Digital Marketing Association. "First, technology for consumer’s use of video is virtually frictionless, even low-end netbooks have built in cameras, mikes and speakers. Increased bandwidth speeds now make the entire experience far more satisfying than it was a year ago,”
“The first winning campaign that leverages this new communications channel will lead a trend toward innovation and new video marketing,” he adds.
Skype clarified to Campaign that its partnership with Facebook does not include advertising, so they were unable to comment on the potential of adveritising via Facebook’s in-browser video chat programme.
Currently Skype’s main advertising opportunities through its software programme are banner-style advertisements that run in the Home Tab in Skype for Windows (version 5.1 and later) and click to call advertising with Skype.
Click to Call has been rolled out in the US, Canada and Western Europe and encourages Skype users to click a button and speak directly to advertisers – with the call already paid for by the advertiser. However, neither method truly takes advantage of the new social factor in video chat.
“It’s an area of marketing that’s still in the process of being defined,” says Kenneth Andrew, marketing director Greater Asia-Pacific, Microsoft Advertising.
Microsoft, which is in the process of acquiring Skype, is confident of the inherent potential in the medium. “The world is changing around this and is behind our decision to look at acquiring Skype. There’s also the potential of integrating it into Xbox so users can video chat while gaming,” adds Andrew.
The most obvious method of advertising, says Andrew, is to run an ad before and after the video chat session. “This would be a poor and intrusive approach that would not really work though,” he notes.
More subtle methods such as sponsoring frames that users can choose to surround their chat windows or virtual hats and accessories. “Users have to be able to opt in or you’ll be crashing a private party,” says Andrew.
Enabling users to chat by sponsoring mobile chat apps or providing sponsored talk time is another method of reaching users via video chat, he adds.
“Marketers can also provide users with enhanced services they might otherwise need to pay for. Marketers can add in fun elements to the chat such as video emoticons and other branded visual enhancing elements,” says Ketchum.
Customer relationship management can also benefit with video chat by inviting consumers to hang out with brand representatives. Automotive brand Ford has already held a Hangout session on its Google+ page and Micheal Dell of PC-maker Dell has considered the use of Hangouts for customer service.
“Live video chat on social media can increase brand credibility and offer authentic product endorsement opportunities, and can also help emotionally touch the consumers in ways that streaming video, pictures or text cannot,” says Ketchum.
Overall, Ketchum notes that the virtual world is becoming more “real”. “As Cisco says ‘Video Is the New Voice’ and video chats on social media will encourage better communications and break down some of the barriers that text and voice messages cannot deliver,” he says.