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Web video: a new powersports frontier – July 24, 2006

July 24, 2006
Filed under Features

A growing consumer habit of watching video on the Internet has not escaped the powersports industry.
More industry players are putting marketing and operating expense dollars into the Web, from high-profile Web mini-films — including one that stars John Malkovich and Naomi Campbell — to streaming video.
A springtime survey of 2 million consumers by comScore Network shows people are spending more than an hour and a half per month watching Web video, an 18 percent increase since October. Although Web video watching is occurring most often by a highly coveted consumer group — 25- to 34-year-old men — it also is happening almost equally between sexes.
In hopes of luring these Web watchers, powersports companies have tried the following:

  • Mini Web films: BRP and Pirelli Tire each have produced short films, with the latter starring Malkovich and Campbell at pirellifilm.com.
  • News shows: Ehlert Publishing Group, the parent company of Powersports Business, has developed a news show called “Inside Powersports.” Appearing on eight Web sites affiliated with Ehlert’s powersports consumer magazines, the weekly show highlights the industry’s news, newsmakers and new products.
  • Expanding TV commercials: Besides displaying new products in streaming video, Harley-Davidson also is expanding its TV commercials on the Web. Tom Watson, a Harley-Davidson marketing director, said Harley shoots a 30-second commercial for TV and then places a 60-second version of the same advertisement on the Internet.
    Are any of the Web video tactics reaching consumers?
    “We’re doing research to see what people are thinking of them,” said Elise Stoycheff, BRP’s marketing coordinator, of the company’s three mini-films, which debuted in mid-April.
    What BRP does know is of the 50,000 Web site visits per week it receives, at least half of those viewers are watching the mini-films. The purpose of the 10-minute action films was to “introduce people to everything you can do on a watercraft and maybe see it in a different way, rather than just zipping around the lake,” Stoycheff said.
    What has allowed BRP and others to use the Internet for a video medium is the increasing amount of U.S. consumers accessing the Web by broadband. According to Nielsen/NetRatings, nearly 75 percent of Internet users connect by broadband. That’s up 15 percent from last year alone. “That was a major concern for us,” Stoycheff said of the number of Web browsers that connect via broadband. “We don’t want people viewing a 10-minute video on a dial-up or a slower connection.”
    The broadband access in the United States has spurred companies like Ehlert Publishing Group into new business ventures. Ehlert’s “Inside Powersports” is made of up four full-time people and 10 editors who contribute on a part-time basis. Ehlert officials believe the Web video content will be the perfect compliment to its consumer magazines.
    “We’ve been in a soft-launch mode up until now,” said Stacey Marmolejo, Ehlert’s senior vice president of marketing and media development. “What that means is we loaded the videos on the sites, but we haven’t been aggressively promoting them. We’ve been working out some bugs, tweaking story types and adjusting based on consumer input.”
    Surveys of more than 7,000 “Inside Powersports” viewers reveal about 85 percent of the viewers watched the entire episode, and 80 percent reported that they plan on returning to watch the next week’s episode.
    “A fully loaded print, online and e-mail marketing campaign kicked into high gear the first week of July,” Marmolejo said.
    Another Web video tactic being used is a process called rich media, an alternative to banner advertising. Rich media allows viewers to stay on the Web page they were browsing and still see the advertiser’s streaming video. It’s a technique that Harley-Davidson used for its Sportster 1200 Low advertising.
    “That has been much more effective for us than simply banner ads that link into Harley-davidson.com,” Watson said.
    Undoubtedly, other powersports companies will be watching to see if Harley, Ehlert and BRP continue to put financial resources into the new medium. “Hopefully it’s going to be a long-term deal,” Stoycheff said of BRP’s mini-films, “but we still don’t know.” psb

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