Mixpo: SMB Videos Need to Be ‘Actionable’

mixpo-logo.jpg Video production and uploads have become standard upsells for Internet Yellow Pages, local portals and sales organizations in the age of YouTube. But once a business has a video, what does it really do with it? How does it drive actions?

That’s the question the gang at Mixpo has been trying to answer for the past year or so. Since September, it has been “live” with a range of local and vertical customers — real estate brokers, travel and tourism companies, resorts, condo developers, and auto dealers.

Funded by Madrona Venture Group (Amazon, Classmates.com), with offices in Seattle and Victoria, British Columbia, Mixpo is headed by Microsoft vet Anupam Gupta. Its goal is to end the behavior that typically has a company dropping $2,000 or more in production, and then leaving the onetime video on a lonely site, DVDs piled up in a file cabinet, undiscovered by search engines, unable to track results, unable to easily move to other platforms.

“People know all about consumer video, but video for SMBs is still very new,” says Gupta. “People are so focused on uploads of video, but who watches the whole thing? A 40 percent view rate is fairly high,” he says.

Gupta thinks the end game for small-business video isn’t uploads, but rather getting customers to convert. Videos don’t do especially well in that department. “Maybe 12 percent of video viewers are asking for more information,” he estimates. Part of the low follow-through is due to the lack of easy requesting information. And part of it is because small businesses have no measurable way to gauge if any of it is effective.

Mixpo is seeking to focus on both aspects for small businesses. It seeks to facilitate leads from views of the videos with built-in triggers in the company’s video player. For instance, companies can add e-mail contact forms, embedded URLs and clickable phone numbers.

It is also concentrating on video search engine optimization. “vSEO is very different than text SEO,” says Gupta. “We’re indexing all the video, creating landing pages, and sending them to all the search engines. Every video ad is optimized for universal search. And we’re mapping where all the views are coming from.”

The company also considers the context in which the video ad is placed (on your site, in e-mail or found via search), what the message is, and how it plays. (Here’s a Mixpo tip: set the video ad to autoplay without audio. It gets much higher clickthrough rates without being obtrusive to the viewer.)

The quality of the video is also juiced, using Adobe Flex — an extension of Flash — with higher video streaming rates, and a “playlist.” This allows businesses to easily change elements of the video ad, dynamically, without having to take down and re-embed the video. For instance, a Valentine’s Day promotion can be added to a florist’s video ad a day before Feb. 14 and taken down on the 15th. Currently, SMBs typically don’t add and delete videos to their sites because they have to pay video editors and/or their Web site handlers for every change.

Gupta adds that Mixpo is primarily focused on working with marketing agencies and lead generators to resell the services to SMBs. “We are finding our solution is a perfect complement to the marketing an SMB is already doing online. They want a solution that can be easily integrated into what they are doing, repurpose existing content to the extent possible, and be 100 percent measurable.”

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