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          Jane Farber.

ASP Forum

Rich Media ROI?

"Does rich media—specifically, video how-to clips—really help resolve support issues? We're thinking about adding video to our knowledgebase, but it's so expensive that we want to be sure there's a positive ROI before we go ahead."

—Heidi from Heightstown                           


McAfee has found video tutorials to be an extremely effective and popular supplement to its KB articles. We now have a dedicated producer creating videos for all our top Consumer product line issues. The ROI is great if you keep the video creation in-house. Look into Adobe Captivate or Camtasia Studio ( if you are addressing software technical issues. Both are good for screen and audio capture, and easy to learn.

Knowing that some people learn best by seeing, and that a visual representation of a solution can only add clarity, rich media is a no-brainer.

—Tracy Romine
    Consumer Support Product Manager

Palm made semi-pro videos for support before the Web 2.0 video-boom. They had a modest response but were created at a low cost by enthusiast film-maker staff. The cost of bandwidth was dealt with by using an early peer-to-peer player, Kontiki. Kontiki has gone on to bigger things such as hosting BBC iPlayer video content.

My personal theory on video howtos is that they are useful if put into a leveraged distribution channel such as YouTube. There are specialized howto channels such as VideoJug for step-by-step content. The downside of YouTube is that channels for a specific company tend to be associated with marketing content; look at for an example. So if you post support videos in a branded channel, it might be perceived that your product is more about problems than about excitement and quality. So I believe in posting video on your own site but also posting it in open channels where it can be copied, linked to, embedded, tagged and otherwise freely distributed. Unless you cheapskate on production, you are unlikely to get flack from this method.

I have examined the videos on the iRobot support site carefully. Roomba vacuums sit on their back like turtles while various maintenance procedures are shown. There is a lot of subtlety to this set of movies. Transcribe the script, watch the lighting, note the hand movements, observe the quality and movement of the hands, and listen to the voice talent. This is not an exercise for those with little time on their hands.

In a cheaper vein, look at and their low cost method of asking customers to suggest video associated with a product offering. Some are support, some are reviews. There is no representation of professionalism. This is pure web 2.0 sharing. Conversely, Dell Community site is a model of high end video production posing as casual commentary by Dell staff—itís a slick act.

Regarding ROI, I believe you have to account for substantial internal video production preparations (authoring and editing scripts, sourcing equipment, vetting voices, legal review etc) and brand oversight. A poor video could badly impact your brand. With regards to support ROI, the video should have a locally hosted usage ROI and a Web 2.0 usage ROI. The latter is hard to measure but you will see the effects in contact volumes via indirect measure. The type of issue covered by a video is key to ROI; you must produce something worth watching. The payback has to be there for the customer. You should not make a video for anything that is short or obvious like removing a battery door. Make sure it is something that would strain the patience of a customer; for example, if they had to read more than about 7 steps to accomplish the goal or if text description fails to achieve to goal. I also see value in videos to accompany the out-of-box experience—finding suitable USB hookups on a PC, attaching cables, best method of installation and configuration etc.

—Dave Moloney
    Director of Knowledge Management
    Palm Inc.

[If you have any other advice on this question, please send an email to membership director Jane Farber at, and we'll post your feedback.]