Rolls Out Video (with Twists)

Idearc’s is rolling out video around the U.S. after a limited test of sales channels and production in Seattle, San Francisco and L.A. The tests, which Kelsey’s Charlie Laughlin reported on in July, involved fewer than 100 customers.

Unlike Citysearch, which offers “free” video production in exchange for long term contracts, SuperPages is going the a la carte route. Video production is priced at $990 for 30 seconds and $1,750 for 60 seconds, and is being provided by two (undisclosed) vendors. Video is already being offered by most of the other major IYPs, with varying terms.

One theoretical advantage of the SuperPages approach is that advertisers have the option of buying their videos for an extra fee, which isn’t being disclosed. If advertisers pay the extra fee, they can place the videos on their own Web sites, microsites, alternative media sources, etc. On Citysearch’s model, customers don’t have the option to buy, and can’t use their video in other places. (Of course, they don’t have to pay for them in the first place).

On the advertising side, SuperPages fees include a $50 monthly charge for a video icon. Advertisers can also set their own budgets for click-thrus of the video via bid ranking and other possible forms of online marketing.

SuperPages VP Robyn Rose says the company has had several takeaways from the early tests. While customers are always busy, “they care about making videos, and spending time with the videographer. Indeed, the company promises that the videographer will spend up to an hour on location. Advertisers also like the one time fee for production, as opposed to bundled fees, she says.

Rose believes that SuperPages is going to reach the “sweet spot between professional and consumer content,” and compares the advertiser’s decision to opt for a 3rd party producer rather than making a video with a camcorder as being akin to whether to build your own website or not.

To me, one of the great questions is whether advertisers really will want production fees broken out or not. It seems like the trend in marketing, generally, is for bundles. But we’ll see. Some vendors, of course, are avoiding video production altogether, focusing instead of helping advertisers with distribution and placement.

We’ll also see how advertisers react when they are asked to first pay for video production, and then for an extra fee to also “own” the video. What I’ve observed is that the fungability of media from one channel to the next is truly one of the great trends of 2007. CitySearch doesn’t let you do it, period. But SuperPages may inadvertently discourage it by tacking on the extra fee. If advertisers have to pay a premium to put their video on SuperPages, and then on their Website, and their email, does it undermine the whole experience?