“Evolve or Die”: Vudoo Tells Publishers to Lean into Shoppable Video

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Back in October, Vudoo, a content commerce company, rolled out its shoppable video product globally, and opened a London office in its first steps towards international expansion. Fresh from an exclusive partnership with News Corp Australia, the Melbourne-based business is helping European publishers transition to transactable video.

VideoWeek spoke to Nick Morgan, Vudoo’s Founder and CEO, to discuss how digital publishers can integrate shoppable video into their content, a move he considers essential to their survival.

How does Vudoo work?

It’s a commerce media product, a transactable video product, and we’ve got varying degrees of transacting capability. Our main go-to-market is our patent-pending transacting capability, which allows us to process monetary transaction data login details inside a video frame. So for example, you might have an interactive video, and we’ve got capability to have interactions akin to what you find in TikTok – except that we produce a shopping cart checkout that slides up on a user’s phone or a desktop. And that is talking in real-time to either a brand’s own tech stack, or a marketplace like Amazon. And that user can then actually shop and check out that product, and never leave the video frame. Vudoo is untethered from the website, and our unit is headless and programmatic, which means it can be served anywhere on the open web as a programmatic ad. We feel that the opportunity is to take checkouts to the customer, and do that via content commerce, rather than be bringing customers back to the brand’s website. It’s growing the footprint of the brand out into the market.

Who uses the product?

We’ve been working with News Corp Australia across lots of their brands, from Moët & Chandon through to travel and electronic goods. So there’s a lot of different brands that have used our product across the News Corp network. And now we’re working with probably half a dozen publishers, and we’re just starting to work with a few agencies, and a few publishers have just started coming on board in Europe. Our product lends itself really well to helping empower premium publishers into unlocking new revenue.

Are there any challenges between editorial and commercial when it comes to embedding shoppable video into content?

I think if anything, the challenge is that editorial need to probably change their mindset. Editorial needs to think with perhaps a bit more of a commercial lens in some instances, because the problems that publishers face aren’t going away, they’re getting worse. And it’s either evolve or die. I think there are some lines that you don’t want to cross, but if you look at Gen Y or Gen Z, they have an expectation of how to shop and check out from platforms like TikTok, Temu and Instagram. They don’t look at commercial content and editorial content with a different hat on. They’re not saying, ‘I’ll enjoy this content for being editorial, but I won’t expect that I can actually shop it.’ I think there’s going to be a big global shift, and I think the editorial team’s biggest opportunity is to lean into it.

Is there a risk TikTok eats up that ad spend without leaving room for publishers?

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Premium publishers have had their businesses stripped over the last 20-25 years and they’ve had to evolve. Publishers fought against social and search when it came in, and they’ve made that work because they’ve had to. Don’t do it again! Don’t fight against it, but lean into it and learn from it. It’s your opportunity to say, this channel here is appearing to be far more influential on a consumer’s user experience than we are. The consumer is not going to change; lean into what the consumer wants.

What does the setup process involve?

Our team predominately doesn’t come from media or advertising, we come from ecommerce. So we bring many years of UX theory and design and conversion rate optimisation. And so we’re really attuned to the customer, and being able to create interfaces that are really seamless and can convert. And then we’ve taken the same approach to our platform for our customers, so for agencies, brands and publishers that use our software, it’s a very intuitive experience. It’s not like you log in there and it looks like MS-DOS. The integration with a tech stack, for example, is a drag and drop, it takes minutes. For us to win and scale, again, leaning on our experience from ecommerce, we haven’t tried to reinvent the wheel with behaviours in and outside of our platform; we’ve adopted the existing, well-known navigational behaviour so it’s very intuitive.

What other tools does Vudoo offer publishers looking to enhance their content?

We have a suite of different ways to engage audiences. I think that’s really valuable for a premium publisher that’s looking to evolve their experiences. So beyond just a rich media scrollable video with a link in it, it can be multifaceted, it might have menus or chapters, and it can gather data. Chaptering is underutilised in advertising because if you present chapters to an audience and allow them to navigate through the video themselves, what you’re actually doing is creating user journeys that you can measure. So if you’ve got four different shoes, and you’ve got an audience interacting and choosing a pathway to learn about those shoes, you can quite quickly see what is resonating with the audience. And we provide that back as a self-serve analytics dashboard.

What are the main concerns you get from publishers who are looking to use the product, and how do you how do you mitigate those concerns?

Publishers can be very set in their processes. And sometimes it’s very hard to shift their teams out of the daily grind, the cogs that are moving. And I think that can sometimes be a challenge for us, because we have our product and it’s turnkey, but it still needs to fit hand in glove with the publisher; they still need to test it and tweak it to make sure that it works. But it’s getting the team’s mindset right, that if a business is going to sustain itself and move forward, they have to be adopting new technologies. So the faster they get into that mindset, the better.

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