Thursday, December 4, 2008

What’s in Your Virtual Window?

Six adorable Shiba Inu puppies became instant Web celebrities last month. A San Francisco couple looking to keep a watchful eye on their dog’s new litter set up a live puppy cam on popular site UStream.TV, and the rest is history.

The feed initially attracted more than 1,000 viewers who logged on to watch the pups play, eat and even sleep. But over time, the site caught on even more, attracting several million views in total (and an average of 20,000 people watching online at a time). It’s safe to say that America formed an attachment to the litter, learning their names, habits and personalities, and continually came back to the site to check in on them. (The site is still running: Click for the live feed).

It’s amazing how a concept so simple can ignite such a national phenomenon. The puppies weren’t for sale (nor were the toys they played with), but imagine if a business concept was tied to this: Would a bidding war ensue for ownership of the puppies? Could sales skyrocket for squeaky toys, if they were available for purchase?

Using online video to implement an idea like the puppy cam could truly differentiate a retailer looking to standout in an increasingly crowded marketplace. You may not have puppies for sale, but there are endless opportunities for retailers looking to attract consumers back to its sites.

For example, if your company sells cookware, why not film live episodes of a chef cooking with and testing the products? Take it even further by setting up chat rooms and message boards to encourage community interaction.

There is so much potential here for retailers. If a simple puppy-cam site lured millions of viewers in a matter of weeks (at the price of only a video camera?), imagine how your company can use online video to attract the masses.

No comments: