Lights, Camera, Auction!

5 Tips for embedding video content in online listings

by Dennis L. Prince
- Aug 12, 2008

In this age of YouTube—that video hosting site where amateurs can go "viral" for fast (and usually fleeting) online fame—it's natural that online sellers would also entertain the notion of adding video to their listings of goods for sale.

Actually, embedded video predates the current YouTube trend by as many as five years, but then it was more of an odd duck to find a listing with an accompanying video file. Today, with video capture technology so prevalent and simplified, it makes sense to consider if your goods can benefit from a full-motion presentation. To help you make that decision, here are five important tips to best utilize video in your online listings while ensuring your mini-movie doesn't become all the next online rage for all the wrong reasons.

Tip No. 1: Determine if your item will benefit from an embedded video.

Before you embark on a video presentation of your goods, make sure they're items that are well-suited for the medium. That is, if you're selling static, non-functional types of goods (artwork, pottery, clothing), you might consider how—if at all—a video presentation could be an improvement over good still photographs. Items such as jewelry, however, might counter this rule if there's need in showing light refraction in a gem as it's turned under a light source.

Of course, the best candidate items are functional goods that can be properly demonstrated in a video setting. If you seek to demonstrate ease of use and a desirable result of the item's use, video is a good medium. If you have a collectible item and a video can illustrate functionality, soundness and completeness, video is a good presentation tool. If you're in doubt whether your item is well suited for this, ask yourself if a short video would help or otherwise convince you to place a bid or make a purchase.

Tip No. 2: Ensure you have a proper video capture device.

While you're choosing the best video capture device possible, be sure to consider audio capture, too

Today, video capture, uploading and playback have become as simple as using a phone. In fact, many folks use their cell phones to capture auction-bound video. Of course, you'll want to use the best equipment available. The choices available to you will likely break down in best-to-worst ordering as follows:

  1. Digital video camera. Harness your digicam for best-quality online listing videos.
  2. Digital still camera. Most of these cameras include functionality to capture a 30-second video file, and most will render decent quality.
  3. Web camera. That monitor-mounted camera can also be used as a reasonable capture device for an online listing, albeit limited since it's best suited for still-mount use.
  4. Cell phone camera. Cell phone cameras can render video in a pinch but should be your last option because of limited video quality.

While you're choosing the best video capture device possible, be sure to consider audio capture, too, since successful listing videos are often accompanied by audio information. This can include you speaking about the details of the item, enabling the viewer to hear the inherent qualities of the item being demonstrated, or both.

Tip No. 3: Establish a proper 'video studio.'

Be certain you have a suitable place to shoot your video, whether it's a tabletop setting, a cozy corner, or a dedicated room. Ensure the "studio" you use for your video capture includes the following:

  • Good lighting, preferably a three point setup (right, left, center) angled and diffused to prevent glare hotspots
  • Uncluttered backgrounds that don't necessarily need to be bland yet should accentuate, not upstage, the item being demonstrated
  • All-around capture that allows you the ability to shoot the item in a continuous 360-degree pan that simulates a prospective buyer's inspection
  • Proper acoustics that allow the audio to be heard clearly and accurately without echo, muffling or distracting ambient noises
  • Camera setups that avoid capturing yourself or your setup within reflective items

Tip No. 4: Abide by eBay policies for including embedded videos.

You'll need to comply with the published rules regarding the inclusion of external links to video content

Naturally, eBay remains vigilant to the content that sellers include in their listings so you'll need to comply with the published rules regarding the inclusion of external links to video content. In rapid fire, here are the policy points:

  • The seller must be the owner of all rights to the video content, including any "underlying rights" of content that the seller might not have right to reproduce or otherwise distribute in the medium.
  • The video cannot contain clandestine and potentially unwanted software elements (think viruses, adware and spyware) or that could comprise viewer privacy.
  • The video cannot include solicitations for unsafe payments such as unsecured wire transfers.
  • Most important, the video needs to be hosted by a trusted video site, including Auction Video, i2iAuction, Vzaar, Google, YouTube and others. Navigate to for the full list of approved video-hosting sites.

Tip No. 5: Make the most of the opportunity.

Since you've gone through the extra care and preparation to make a video for your listing, make sure you polish your performance by giving proper attention to these differentiating factors:

  • Make sure you have prepared a script of key points to cover during the presentation without distracting "uhhs" and "umms."
  • Keep the video short—about 30 to 45 seconds—to ensure the content is lean and to the point.
  • Practice creating videos to ensure you have proper and compelling results.

Now, aside from capturing footage of your items up for offer, don't forget to consider putting yourself in front of the camera as an opportunity to help buyers become familiar with you, your business, and your operating policies. Share a bit about yourself to improve virtual relations with your prospective customers, considering production of a separate video that serves solely as an "About Me" presentation to be included in all of your listings. And, if you consider all of these tips, you should find you've leaped ahead in meeting and exceeding your buyers' expectations. That's a wrap!

About the Author

Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay…and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues.

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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