What it is: Text is so yesterday. While written user reviews have become a powerful tool for consumers looking to buy, a few firms are betting video opinions will be the next driver. ExpoTV has built a business on aggregating videos of its users reviewing products -- so far they have more than 13,000 on the website. The beauty of it, said CEO Daphne Kwon, is that the reviews aren't anonymous: "If you find someone who's maybe like yourself or very credible, it's very effective." Wiki-style buying guide ShopWiki also offers user-generated video reviews, but so far the volume of them appears more limited.
Where you'll find it: ExpoTV syndicates its reviews to places such as GoogleVideo and AOL Video and on VOD with cable operators such as Comcast, Time Warner and Charter. A greater number of categories and videos are available online, only because the VOD platform is limited in the type of searching it can do. But the big growth opportunity for video reviews lies in the search engines integrating video and text -- something largely considered inevitable.
Why people upload: There are monetary incentives. ShopWiki is offering $50 each for the first 500 videos it accepts. ExpoTV will run similar promotions, paying $10 for a video, and has had a refer-a-friend bonus. Its sustainable payment model, however, is a play-for-pay one -- 1 cent every time a video is played.
The ad angle: Video opinion sites will be mostly ad-supported on a cost-per-click basis. Right now ExpoTV boasts some direct marketers who are making videos, all of which the company marks as advertisements. "We're inviting advertisers to join the word-of-mouth conversation," said Ms. Kwon. "We believe that if a user is coming and looking for a Dell laptop that if Dell has something in a longer format video the user might value that." Soon, she hopes the advertising will evolve into a click-to-buy model.