Thursday, July 23, 2009

Amazon Buys Zappos for $928M and Produces Video Explaining the Deal for $1.98

If you track tech news then you couldn't miss the big news yesterday that bought online footwear retailer Zappos for an estimated $928M. News stories about the deal filled the echo chamber and only a few focused on the unique way Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos used online video to communicate the news. His delivery is direct and honest and he offers a compelling "rags to riches" story that looks like it was shot for $1.98.

Dan Rayburn said,
"You gotta love it when a company like Amazon users the power of video to get their message out. Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos has an eight minute video uploaded to YouTube to explain the company's acquisition of Zappos. Now that's how video should be used. As good as the content of the video is, the quality is terrible for me. Wish Amazon had used a service other than YouTube."
Dan's right too, the video quality is so poor that I found myself getting distracted by the video compression. There isn't even a high quality version you can switch to so you're stuck viewing the low quality version. While some editing is done with the shots varied between medium and close ups it looks like a single camera shoot done on a Flip Video camera.

The only other blog that I found that commented on the video quality was by Sorenson Media CEO Peter Csathy who said,
"Folksy" is good, especially for Amazon -- which has always prided itself in being the "regular guy" on the Internet giant block. But, terrible video quality is not. And, take a look at the video quality of Bezos's YouTube video -- it is downright horrible! As my head of marketing, Eric Quanstrom, wrote to me yesterday, "what were Amazon's marketing people thinking????" Quality, quality, quality -- that is job 1 for Internet video. To maximize impact -- including viral distribution (i.e., getting your videos seen by the most people) -- the experience of the viewer is paramount."
Peter gave Amazon an "A" for effort and marketing ingenuity but "F" which he upgraded to a "D" for execution. From a quality standpoint, I think though what helps save it is that Jeff Bezos is wearing a lavalier microphone which helps keep you engaged because the audio is clear. The backyard setting offers an authenticity akin to the UGC (user-generated content) approach that a studio setting or green screen approach can't touch. But come on Amazon, you just spent $928M on Zappos. Can't you spend more on video quality?