Tudou — which is now a part of Youku, so maybe we should be saying Youku — launched an ecommerce integration feature on its website on March 30, which at present is being used in cooperation with Pepsi to connect to that company’s Tmall store. This is reportedly the first such combination of web video and e-commerce to have been attempted in China. Presumably, if it’s a success, Tudou will then expand it to work in ads for other companies, too.
It works like this: in some videos that feature people wearing hats and drinking beverages — Pepsi beverages, one assumes — users can click on the hat and/or bottle of the beverage to be taken directly to the product’s page on Tmall. So says Tudou, anyway; in practice, I found some recent Pepsi ads on the site, and I clicked on some bottles but I never got anything to happen. Perhaps I wasn’t watching the right videos, but folks, there is a limit to how much time I am willing to spend watching soft drink advertisements. (Or perhaps they’ve been announced but aren’t actually up yet; the news story wasn’t too clear on that point).
glorified press release totally balanced news piece makes a big deal out of this being groundbreaking, but I have some real questions about the scalability and efficiency of this as a new model of advertising. Auto-tracking any object in a video is pretty hard, so any implementation of this sort of click-the-product-to-buy approach is going to require at least some manual intervention, and that costs time and money. I suspect that’s why I had trouble finding any ads that this has been implemented in; I rather doubt it’s even possible to do this sort of thing effectively with any kind of automatic system.
So while having clickable bottles is a neat gimmick for Pepsi and Tudou, I don’t imagine it’s going to be setting the video advertising industry on fire anytime soon. Still, the thought of clicking on a Pepsi sort of makes me want to drink a Pepsi, so…mission accomplished?
Disclosure: The author of this post was at one time an employee of Youku. However, he does not currently work for Youku or own any stock in it or any other company.