In what amounts to yet another vote of confidence for local merchant video producer TurnHere, the company has announced a $7.5 million cash infusion from Venrock and Hearst Interactive Media. It’s also a vote of confidence for the red hot local video advertising space, of which TurnHere has proved a leader in both the quality of its videos and the distribution deals it’s formed (Citysearch, Superpages, Yellowpages.com).
There are two important parts to this formula: shooting the video and distributing it. In both respects, the barriers have been lowered. Growth in online video is rooted in cheaper online distribution (when compared with cable spot advertising) and broadband penetration. Meanwhile video production has been fulfilled by the TurnHeres, EzShows, and Denver Multimedias of the world, which have come along to create the content.
TurnHere has always had the best production quality and sits at the upper end of the price/quality spectrum. But only within the past year has the company struck deals with publishers to more substantially push its service to SMBs through existing sales channels. To the distribution point above, these deals also importantly provide well-traveled local search sites and give these videos more meaningful places to “live.”
This has taken form in videos that are embedded within profile pages in Yellowpages.com and those that surface to the top of “best of” city-specific sites at places like Citysearch and Savory Cities. Through these formats, video will provide a good combination of search and discovery as inventory continues to grow. More importantly, it will literally add color to local online listings.
Breathing Life Into IYP Listings
The last point got me thinking. We’ve written about how the universal search trend will bring local video to search engine results pages (SERPs). But it also struck me that the on-demand online culture (emblematic of what some call Web 2.0) driving universal search is starting to apply down to the individual listing level. Like SERPs that are evolving with lots of multimedia and disparate sources of content (Ask 3D is the best example of this), some IYP listings are doing the same.
As this listing from Yellowpages.com shows, the embedded video enhances the experience a great deal and makes it a more meaningful and informative experience that puts you “in” the restaurant. In line with universal search, it’s one more thing to add to a listing that satisfies users’ evolving needs and expectations to get everything in one place (Citysearch is driving toward this goal with integrations of menus, reviews and video, and will soon have appointment scheduling).
Meanwhile, from the publisher perspective, it’s an upsell opportunity and another way to increase online margins. Profiles with video, images and other multimedia, in other words, can be seen as the future version of the full-page print ad. In this respect, video has shown strong demand in the restaurant vertical, but there has also been demand in high-margin, high-consideration areas such as real estate and auto.
These are both key verticals for TurnHere and its next growth areas will likely possess the same factors. These will likely include professional services such as dentists, lawyers and photographers. These happen to be Yellow Pages’ sweet spots where relationships and a sales channel are already established. With TurnHere’s funding and growing list of publisher partners, it will be better positioned to access these verticals and get it done.