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Selling Points: Why DVD is Made for Marketing

Mark Waldrep

September 2000 | How well-suited is DVD-Video for use in the world of sales and marketing? How can advertising agencies and marketing/communications organizations benefit from the DVD-Video format? What are the critical questions that decision-makers in these businesses need to ask when considering the relative merits of set-top DVD versus PC solutions when implementing a new program?

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: the single most important aspect of the DVD-Video format is its ability to access, randomly, thousands of individual pieces of video using an inexpensive consumer DVD-Video player hooked up to a television monitor. Think about what this means for individuals or organizations that have to demonstrate a completed video production or a work-in-progress to a client or potential client. The traditional "demo" reel, a collection of one's best work laid out sequentially on a piece of 3/4" UMATIC videotape, reaches a new level of functionality when the client or presenter can instantly access any video clip or commercial within it.

The all-important question of what to place at the head of the reel (do I put my best work first or build up to a big finale?), is obviated because everything on the DVD-Video version of the "demo" reel can be effectively at the "beginning" of the disc. We call these types of discs "QuickPitch™" at AIX Media Group and we've made them for movie studios, promo houses, and graphics companies. Depending on the specific application, dozens or hundreds of individual pieces of video can be placed on the same disc and a simple navigational interface designed that allows quick and easy access to them. Collections of movie trailers, ad campaigns, or commercials should be recorded on DVD-Video discs and should never be strung out on a linear piece of tape. I've even heard that several of the largest advertising agencies in the world have mandated that any new "demo reel" submissions must be on disc. No more tapes!

And it can go much further than simple collections of high-quality media. There can be multiple uses for a disc that is thoughtfully produced. The same disc can be used at a trade show, incorporated in a personal presentation, and given out to potential clients. One of our recent projects for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), produced in association with Surround Associates, is a good example of this multiple-use approach. The goal was to demonstrate and gather market research on the merits of music presented in surround. With the imminent arrival of the DVD-Audio specification, the CEA organization was given the task of determining whether people would appreciate the new music format and purchase new hardware and software in order to bring it into their homes. One way to accomplish this would be to do a market survey using a focus group. A small group of people would be invited to a location set up with the surround playback equipment, experience multichannel music, and then leave behind a survey questionnaire. This follows the traditional methodology: a method that is expensive, unreliable (especially given the "sweet spot" mentality of surround music), and inaccurate.

AIX proposed creating a distributable DVD-Video/ DVD-ROM disc containing information about multichannel music, demonstrations of various music genres using 5.1 speakers, and a follow-up WebDVD connection, and CEA agreed. Rather than place consumers in a foreign environment and have them react to samples of multichannel music (which may or may not be of the type of music that the participants like), they were able to experience the format in the privacy of their own homes where "outside" factors were unable to influence their opinions. The responses received through the Web site were much more valuable and larger in number than could have been derived from a focus group of 50 individuals. Essentially, the DVD-Video/DVD-ROM disc becomes a personalized market survey sent to a large "focus group." Responses are sent back using a simple Internet software package located on the ROM portion of the disc.

So the case is certainly not difficult to make that DVD-Video can function as a sales and marketing piece. The real question is whether there are enough people in the general population that have DVD players and home theater setups to make a distributed DVD-Video disc viable. The answer is dependent on the market segment that you intend to target. Users of high-end audio gear might be perfect recipients for a DVD-Video disc because they tend to adopt new technologies faster than the general population.

Will consumers looking to purchase inexpensive automobiles or recreational boating equipment be likely to have the hardware necessary to view a free disc and reconnect via the Internet? With the installed base of machines approaching 10% of the population (without counting DVD-ROM equipped computers), the answer is a qualified yes, but it's heading in the right direction with machines costing near $100. High-density optical discs coupled with the bidirectional flexibility of the Internet provide a powerful component within a strategic marketing plan. Informed account executives need to get comfortable with the technology and realize its applicability for their clients. Large marketing/advertising organizations need to partner with experienced creative/ technical DVD production companies to ensure that their productions meet the highest quality standards associated with their industry. The future of media campaigns is not the exclusive domain of the Internet...bandwidth does matter.

Mark Waldrep (mwaldrep@aixmediagroup.com) is the President and CEO of AIX Media Group, an international company specializing in the innovative use of emerging technologies such as DVD and the Internet. He is also a professor in the Division of Performing and Media Arts at the California State University at Dominguez Hills.

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