YouTube has revolutionised the web. Now, lunchtimes are not spent reading a paper, phoning a mate or, dare we say it, going out of the office. Instead, they’re spent on YouTube surfing for the best goals, the funniest clips, the most extreme oversteering moments. So fundamental has it become, Apple’s iPod now even features a dedicated ‘Tube’ button.
User-generated video is behind all this. With cameraphones and digital cameras, it’s never been easier for us to generate our own video clips, making pictures seem almost passé nowadays. And such a revolution has, thanks to new and used car search portal Motors.co.uk, now hit the new and used car sector, too.
That’s right. Traders selling a car can now give it the ‘Top Gear’ treatment – shoot a video of their car and host it online, embedded within a traditional classified car ad. This is revolutionary – and something you should definitely be considering.
It works just like a shoot for TV, but without the hassle. Motors.co.uk partner, photography and video experts Auto Exposure, offers various different packages, but the overall premise is simple. They cost-effectively shoot video footage of the cars, run it through an automated editing package, then overlay an automated voiceover with music in the background.
There are two ways of shooting a video. Dealers can arrange a convenient slot with Auto Exposure, and one of the team will come down and shoot the film for you. This is real hands-off stuff: simply make the car available, and Auto Exposure do the rest, producing a video, with voiceover and music, around one-and-a-half to two minutes long for fast loading onto the website.
In the voiceover, full details of the car will be mentioned, with key details taken from that car’s CAP feed. This highly accurate and compelling video is then uploaded onto Motors.co.uk, and a link to it (marked by a ‘camera’ logo) embedded within the vehicle’s classified ad.
Alternatively, dealers can shoot it themselves! Using a digital camera (or even a cameraphone), footage of the car can be shot, then uploaded onto the Auto Exposure system via easy-to-use software. This is the ‘creative’ option: dealers have the choice of MP3 music to play in the background, can do a voiceover for the car themselves – even appear in the video if they so wish! For those who have ever fancied presenting for TV, this is the easiest way to get a captive audience, and is a real marketing opportunity for dealers who want to do something different.
Frank Sharp (pictured right), from Auto Exposure is the brains behind it. So how did it come about? ‘It’s a natural progression – video is definitely the next big thing. But until now, people have shied away from it because of the difficulty and cost involved.
‘We looked at it in a different way. We started with a price people could afford, then worked out how to do it. Again, anyone can do video – but they charge a fortune. Our service is cost-effective and, best of all, quick. We can get a video of a car up on site within 24 hours. In this fast-turnover industry, such speed is a real bonus.’
Certainly, customers seem to love it. In essence, they have already seen the car they’re interested in before they even visit the dealer. This means they’re more familiar with what it has to offer, have been able to see if it’s suitable, and won’t do that dreaded trait of rejecting a possible test drive at the last minute because they don’t like the colour of the door trim or the spec of the stereo.
They’ll have watched the video several times, absorbing all the visuals of the car, so are more likely to be a serious buyer. You don’t need us to tell you what a help this could be in helping convert an enquiry into a sale.
What’s more, Sharp says feedback from dealers has been universally positive. ‘All the people we’ve spoken to have said they’re selling more cars because of it. That’s why I see video as, in time, something all dealers must have. And it’s those forward-thinking dealers who are doing it now that will steal a march on their rivals.
‘I compare it with images. A few years ago, getting an image of a car online was a rarity. Now, everyone’s doing it, and those who don’t will lose their customers’ interest. It will become exactly the same with video.’
Helen Rapp, product manager of Motors.co.uk, confirmed the appeal. ‘Our new video product have been well received by dealers. With video adverts, customers have already seen the car they want to test drive or buy before they visit the dealer, so when they go to the showroom, they are serious buyers. This makes it easy for the sales team to convert an enquiry into a sale.’
But video is just one of many areas where Motors.co.uk is upping its UK exposure. The company has also invested heavily in a new consumer advertising campaign. It’s due to be rolled out this summer, and will take many forms, all based around one centrepiece – a 10-foot high blue steering wheel!
Remember the Direct Line telephone? The company is hoping this will strike a similarly memorable chord with the public, particularly given its catchy tagline: You take the wheel.