Monday, March 19, 2007

Click and Buy in Online Video: Fine Idea, Limited Execution

This BizReport story says that Kohl's has become the first advertiser to to use MSN's new VHL (Video Hyperlink) technology. (Microsoft loves those cool little three-letter extension handles.) When you're watching an MSN video (actually, a Kohl's video on MSN Movies site) and an item on sale at Kohl's come onto the screen, a big green arrow starts flashing in the lower right hand corner. That's your cue to mouse over the items for sale and click it. At that point the video pauses, and another browser window pops open to the Kohl's site to the page where you can purchase the item.

It's a cool technology and the idea is almost as cool as the technology -- you can see the video in action here. This execution does have some limitations, however:

  • People have to want to view a promotional video, such as a Kohl's marketing video, to see it in action. This is probably not a practical application for content-oriented video.
  • In this video, you have to move quickly, say within three to four second, to click on the item or it's gone, and it takes a while to figure out how to go back and see something you like again. (Just clicking on the time status bar behind the current point won't do it.)
  • In addition, the model in this video is always moving, so it's easy to click and miss.
  • The video gets interrupted, which hurts the flow of the experience.
  • You can't click on the green arrow and choose the featured item on the video -- they should consider allowing that.

All in all, it's a good first effort, and I can't imagine it won't improve with subsequent executions.

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