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Interview

Interview: Leverage the Power of Authentic User-Generated Video Content

Today, Shoppers are creating post-purchase videos on over 35 platforms in 89 languages. Each of those represents an opportunity to amplify an influencer’s voice or learn from them. But how do you discover, amplify, and drive conversion through the right videos on the right product pages and channels? Ajay Bam, CEO & Co-founder of Vyrill, has created a platform that watches & listens to millions of videos online so you don’t have to. Ajay joined Peter and Lauren Livak to tell us how.

Peter Crosby:
Hi everyone, Peter Crosby here from the Digital Shelf Institute. Today, Shoppers are creating post-purchase videos on over 35 platforms in 89 languages. Each of those represents an opportunity to amplify an influencer’s voice or learn from them. But how do you discover, amplify, and drive conversion through the right videos on the right product pages and campaigns? Ajay Bam, CEO & Co-founder of Vyrill, has created a platform that watches & listens to millions of videos online so you don’t have to. Ajay joined me and Lauren Livak to tell us how.

Peter Crosby:
So Ajay, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. I don't know if you know this, but videos become very important in the consumer buying journey. We're really delighted to have you on the podcast. So thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

Ajay Bam:
Thank you. Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure. Looking forward to this conversation.

Peter Crosby:
So your software platform for discovering and amplifying the power of user generated video content, Vyrill, which for our listening fans out there is spelled V-Y-R-I-L-L. So it won the TechCrunch Battleground Contest in July of 2021. So, I'm picturing that there were tech nerds at the top of virtual seeds in a field of NFTs, but I could be wrong. But seriously, tell me about that.

Peter Crosby:
Not the experience really, but why do you think you beat out all that other competition there? That's pretty heavy competition. What is it about the challenge that you're solving that you think caught the judge's attention?

Ajay Bam:
Yeah. So it's interesting. I would say that as we're living in this COVID age now, COVID changed the world, and video is shaping COVID. Video is really shaping customer shopping behaviors. What's happening now is that shoppers are now, as e-commerce sales grow, and as more people are resistant to actually walking into a store, and shopping online, more and more shoppers are actually consuming video content pre-purchase.

Ajay Bam:
They're making a lot of videos after purchase. This is now happening on 35 platforms, and 89 languages. So big brands, or any brand pretty much in the world, a brand like Nike has over 29 million videos just on YouTube. 95% of that content is user generated. There's no humanly possible way to watch 20 million videos, and understand what's going on inside the video.

Ajay Bam:
So, video and what's happening is not only are we seeing shopper trends around video both content creation, and purchase, and watching videos before purchase. But the big elephant in the room, Amazon. Amazon has already amassed more than 250 million video reviews on their platform.

Ajay Bam:
They're now leading all their product pages with video. So what's happening now is as far as the shopper is concerned, the shopper is now going to expect videos on product pages. So at Vyrill, the problem that we're solving really is how do you make sense of all this massive amounts of video data, and particularly, how do you make sense of all the user generated video data? How do you find it? How do you rate it? Then how do you help brands license and leverage video content for product marketing is really what we're focusing on here at Vyrill.

Ajay Bam:
What's interesting is that video always outperforms texts at all times. 85% of shoppers say that they watch videos before they shop. The reason is the shopper can see the product, the person, and the emotions inside the video. So it really increases brand trust by 20X. It cuts down on text review fraud.

Ajay Bam:
So with text reviews, we don't always know that it was created by a human. Whether the shopper actually owned the product, or if it was a bot. But the video, everything is very visual, and you can see that. So all these trends around shopper behaviors, COVID trends, Amazon trends, all of this is leading towards video.

Ajay Bam:
I strongly believe that the future of commerce's video will start with video, and it'll end with video. So how do you help brands and retailers with video content is really what we're focusing on at Vyrill.

Peter Crosby:
Yeah. That trust point really resonates with me, because we're about to release in February a new set of consumer research in the US. Because we'd run this survey in the US for several years. We last year started to ask this question largely because of COVID. Like, are you willing to pay more for a product from a brand you trust?

Peter Crosby:
Last year, 30% said yes. This year, 45% said yes. So, that leap of people are in some ways overwhelmed by the choices that they have. But also it matters what we're putting in our bodies, and who we're choosing to do business with. The idea that that can be better represented by the voice of the consumer, and particularly through video, I think is really super compelling. Does that sort of number surprise you, or does that make sense?

Ajay Bam:
No. I think what's happening now is I think the quality of video is also getting better, and overall, the authenticity is best discovered via video. So I'm not surprised. I think in the age of COVID, when you can’t physically touch a product in store, video matters a lot, right?

Ajay Bam:
People want to see people. Shoppers want to see shoppers like them buying the product, and shoppers like them talking about the product. So, that's where authenticity, trust, opinions, and multiple ways to actually see the product in action. So when it comes to video, it's not just about reviews.

Ajay Bam:
You can get an unboxing video. You might get a how to video. You might get a dealership video, or experts talking about a particular product, or perhaps we're seeing a lot of more and more educational content as well in the CPG world. Videos talking about nutrition, health benefits. It all ties back to the product that you're consuming, and more. So when it comes to video, there's multiple dimensions of types of video. The bottom line is: authenticity matters, and video delivers on that.

Lauren Livak:
A hundred percent. I feel like that's the first thing I look at when I go to buy a product. Because I want to see it in the real world, and I want to see how other people are using it to your point. So it's a common problem that really kind of stands out for brands, for consumers. With your approach, how do you help to solve that problem? What are the benefits of working with your platform?

Ajay Bam:
Yeah. So, actually what makes us very unique, and special in the world is that we're one of the few companies in the world that can match millions of videos on YouTube to the entire L'Oréal product catalog, or the Nike product catalog, or the car catalog by product, category, brand, competitor, keyword, and hashtag.

Ajay Bam:
The reason we chose this approach is that at the end of the day, customers want to see all the videos that's Q level, or at product level. So it is very important from early on for us to match videos to products, or to the product catalog. We can do this at a massive scale.

Peter Crosby:
So Ajay it seems like one of the major challenges for this is the sheer scale of what you're talking about and the complexity of being able to mine all that information that you're talking about and, I'm assuming you don't have thousands of human beings sitting there with their eyeballs taped open watching videos all day long, so how is it that you're able to to tackle this? What's underlying that?


Ajay Bam:
Absolutely, a great question. You know, I'll give you a quick example: we helped a big CPG brand analyze 12,000 videos in 14 days, what would have taken them eight and a half months to manually watch a video and understand it. And so, how do we really do this? It’s all AI and machine learning.

Ajay Bam:
It’s taken us four and a half years to really build a core technology of analyzing a video in multiple dimensions and the reason is, this is really hard. I mean, you know, we're constantly tweaking, optimizing our technology. So we have essentially trained machines to watch videos and to understand what's happening inside the video. So, building the technology to analyze the video in nine dimensions, you know, it's more than 28 algorithms that are literally watching every single video and trying to encode them and understand what's actually happening inside the video as well.

Ajay Bam:
I mentioned before that Nike has 20 million plus videos on YouTube, where we can match millions of those videos to the Nike product catalog. We can help Nike find the top, or any brand, or retailer find the top 10 reviews, or the top 10 unboxing videos. The worst 10 reviews, and the worst 10 unboxing videos as well. How do we do this? We do this by offering insights in nine dimensions.

Ajay Bam:
So we analyze the audio for sentiment analysis. So, we're able to actually showcase positive and negative comments, sentences, keywords, and phases. The beauty of our platform is not only can you read the sentiment of what people are saying about your product and brand, you can actually just watch clips of positive and negative sentiment that they're saying. You can just literally just play all your positive and negative comments.

Ajay Bam:
So we do sentiment analysis, we do demographic analysis. So, we analyze all the people in the video by age, ethnicity, and gender. We're looking at diversity, which is a very hot topic for brands. They're getting hammered because they don't have enough representation of either age, ethnicity, gender, or even size of product in their videos.

Ajay Bam:
So we help brands understand what diversity looks like in the context of their videos, both their videos, and their fan videos as well. We analyze scenes, 600 scenes, and landmarks. So if you're promoting sunscreen, you're probably interested in more outdoor videos, and perhaps featuring Eiffel Tower as well.



Ajay Bam:
We analyze engagement. How does the engagement look like for a video on social media? We have trained the machines to identify 50 topics by vertical. So for example in beauty, we're able to identify reviews of unboxing videos, but also lipstick videos, mascara videos.

Ajay Bam:
So we actually will flag the video if there's nudity, foul language, or minors in the video. So all of these dimensions, and more, really add up to rating and ranking all the video content. After we have rated and ranked all the content, the brand can actually then license the top video. So, we actually capture the email address of the creator who made the video.

Ajay Bam:
So we have tools to license content. Then finally, we also help... We just launched our new video app for Shopify. With that app, they can now engage their customers with all that video content on their product pages. What makes us again very different with our Shopify, or our commerce app is that it's integrated with QR codes.

Ajay Bam:
So you can be in-store walking inside Target, and you could scan the QR code on the product. We could launch the video experience, or you could be on the product page online. Essentially we help brands add all the videos to their product pages, and we make in-video search possible.

Ajay Bam:
So the key to video commerce is in-video search. So let's say we're both buying a car, and Lauren, you're interested in a car with leather seats. I'm interested in a car that talks about car acceleration in eight seconds. With Vyrill on the product page, the shoppers can instantly search inside the video for leather seats.

Ajay Bam:
We can take them to the portion of the video, where they're talking about leather seats. So, you can watch that portion of the video and you can decide and make your shopping decision. So, the key to video commerce is in-video search. So now with Vyrill, it doesn't matter anymore whether your video is 30 seconds, or 30 minutes long.

Ajay Bam:
We can help you, we can get you there. Then of course you get daily email alerts as a marketer. So you can get a quick summary of all your positive videos, and your negative videos on a daily basis. So you stay on top of all your video content. So, essentially we're providing an end to end solution from discovering your content, or if you already have a lot of branded videos, we can make all your branded videos useful, and searchable on your product pages to actually rating your content, licensing your content, and finally helping you drive your two key KPIs, which is new revenue and paid engagement.

Lauren Livak:
I think the thing that really stood out for me here was you're not only helping the consumer make their decision. Because they're getting that authenticity, and they're seeing what other people are doing. But you can then take all that data and plug it back into innovation for your brand.

Lauren Livak:
You are hearing what the consumers are saying, what they like, what they don't like. You can help create future products. That's really that kind of closed loop that you need to think about when you're thinking about digital as a brand. When you put something out there, you need to understand the data, you need to see how people react, and then you use that to really inform your decisions.

Lauren Livak:
So it really kind of takes ratings and reviews to the next level. Because you're hearing it from people's mouths where you wouldn't be able to aggregate that information ever before.

Ajay Bam:
Yeah. Lauren, you hit the nail, which is we're building a whole new video review platform for videos. That's really what we're helping brands with, is how can they leverage videos forward to drive more engagement with both branded, and authentic video content.

Peter Crosby:
So Ajay, you were talking about sort of the marketer, or at brands being able to use this data. What are the specific roles at brands that you're working with? Is there a general set of kind of when you're... If our listeners are out there kind of thinking, "Oh, would this be right for me? How would I use it?" What are you kind of seeing?

Ajay Bam:
Yeah, absolutely. So first of all I think... So, really the e-commerce content marketing manager is one of our customers. The other is the social media, and insights teams. So the e-commerce content manager is interested in finding and developing more content that can drive their revenue numbers, and their conversions on their website, and with their in-store shopping experience.

Ajay Bam:
The social media insights teams are interested in how can they market message better about their product and brand. So what's very interesting about the product is that not only can you track your data, you can also track your competitive data as well.

Ajay Bam:
So that can be very useful for the social media insights team. Then of course, for the content marketing manager, it's primarily their branded and their UCC content for their brand and more. Really those are the top roles. Of course, all these roles depending on the size of the company can either be standalone, or they can be under the VP of digital marketing, or the CMO office.

Ajay Bam:
So it really depends on the size of the customer. As far as the videos are concerned, I think that every brand, even if they don't have videos today, they should be thinking about video at some point. Because it's given that customers are going to expect videos.

Ajay Bam:
That's one of the reasons why TikTok has taken off, is the authenticity of the TikTok platform. Being able to see that authentic content posted by the shoppers, or consumers, or customers is very important. So whether you're a small customer, big customer at some point, you'll need videos. These are some of the roles in your company or in your organization that either you have, or you might be considering you want to build as you grow your organization is, who's looking at the Vyrill platform.

Lauren Livak:
So you've been working with brands. I think case studies are always really great to have other brands understand what people are doing, and the experiences that they're having. So, we'd love to dig into some. I know you probably have a couple, but could we start with maybe a beauty example if you have one to share?

Ajay Bam:
Yeah, absolutely. So we work with a big beauty brand. It's one of the top 10 brands. I can't give away all the names for other competitive, and NDA reasons. But we helped a big beauty brand essentially map all their video content on YouTube for about 150 skews.

Ajay Bam:
The beauty brand was particularly interested in understanding what video content they have on social media. But also what video content they're missing by product. So, what we find is that when it comes to e-commerce, for every vertical, there are three types of videos that drive conversion.

Ajay Bam:
So, for example in beauty, it's reviews, unboxing videos, and how to videos. So, we really helped this brand understand what videos for each of their products, and skews, what are these three types of videos that they have, and what are the three types of videos that they're missing?

Ajay Bam:
So, not only were we able to give them a whole analysis of their video content. But that was also then we added demographic diversity as well on top of that. So then they used all these insights, and the sentiment insights to understand what people are saying about their product and brand. What type of content that they're missing. Should they be investing their marketing dollars in to produce content?

Ajay Bam:
What type of video is popular in what category? So that can also help you with defining your content strategy as well, and where you should be focusing on your videos as well if you have a limited budget, and more.

Ajay Bam:
So the brand actually then leverages all that data to start working with fans to run marketing campaigns, to capture videos that they were missing. Also find the list of all the top influences in the category as well. So they also analyzed two of their competitor data as well to find the competitor insights as well.

Ajay Bam:
Overall, it's really helped them really strengthen their video strategy. What they found is that we compared their engagement between their branded video content versus UGC content. What we found is that UGC content, the number of views and engagement was 10X compared to branded videos.

Ajay Bam:
This really gets to the bottom line of the shopper experience, or the purchase journey. Which is, shoppers trust other shoppers. So they're more interested in seeing videos from other fans than they're interested in seeing videos from brands. We saw that in this analysis as well. That UGC content performs really well.

Ajay Bam:
So the brand has also shifted budget to producing more UGC content versus branded content. So spending money on one video and spending $25,000 on producing that very high-end video versus engaging 40 fans to essentially either license their video, or make videos, or run a campaign to have them post a review unboxing video. It's much more powerful to get UGC content, and to leverage UGC content. It was pretty obvious for this beauty brand that that was the case.

Peter Crosby:
So throw another case study at us, Ajay.

Ajay Bam:
Yeah, absolutely. So we found that the moment you put up videos on a product page. So we actually helped an electronics brand, and we're AB testing with a number of other brands as well. What happens is we help this brand, first of all, find all the video content on YouTube that were posted about their product and brand.

Ajay Bam:
We also helped them find... They were also interested in producing more videos in their category as well. We helped this brand find all the top influencers in their electronics category, and then they threw the platform. Not only did they discover top influencers. This was primarily in the security space.

Ajay Bam:
It was a password security product to store all your passwords on a little USB file as a consumer. We help them discover, find all the top influencers who are talking about product, and brand. Then they engage those influencers to the platform to produce videos. Then they license those videos, and then they put those videos up on their product pages.

Ajay Bam:
So, what we found is the moment you put videos up, it increases page engagement by two X to five X. That's because the video is very visual. If something is moving on an e-commerce side, or on a website, your eyes will immediately focus on that, those moving images, right?

Ajay Bam:
So it increases page engagement by two X to five X. What happens is it increases conversion as well. So it can increase conversion from 10 to 68% depending on the product brand, and the category. So in this case, the brand actually received a lift, because it's a new product.

Ajay Bam:
The videos included both... there was an educational video, there was a how to video. There were a couple of reviews as well from shoppers. So, they were able to engage all these videos, and they also received a lift of about 18% by adding the videos as well.

Ajay Bam:
This is very common and very consistent across multiple categories, is the moment you add videos. It'll increase your page engagement time. It will increase your conversion as well. Then, in the future, when we launch with this brand, we didn't have this feature. But in the future, we can also offer a lot of insights around what videos are being watched.

Ajay Bam:
We can also offer videos a lot of insights on what people are searching inside the video as well. That can be a very useful insight as well. So, multiple ways of leveraging the platform. In the first use case that I shared, it's about insights. In this use case, it's more about how you leverage video content for conversion and more.

Lauren:
I'm wondering, do brands also use it to inform how they should make future videos? Meaning the timing of the video, the scenes that are in the video. What's happening?Is there text, is there not text? Do they also use that to inform any future content that they create?

Ajay Bam:
Yeah. It's a great question. I would say the answer is absolutely yes. It informs what type of video they should produce. Like I mentioned before depending on your category, there are three or four kinds of video that are absolutely necessary, and important to produce.

Ajay Bam:
It also informs, in general, short form video is really where everything is headed. The reason is most customers don't have the time to watch videos, long videos. So generally on average, I would say a video that's a minute and a half long or less is better. If you can get your message across in the first 30 seconds. We see this even with some of the fan content.

Ajay Bam:
Some fans are very good at getting their attention in the first like 10 seconds, or 30 seconds. So this is also one of the problems that Vyrill has solved. So essentially with Vyrill, because we offer in-video search. It doesn't matter anymore whether the video is 10 seconds, or 10 minutes.

Ajay Bam:
With Vyrill, the customer can instantly search inside the video. So, you can search your product features, and we can take you into that product feature that you're looking for to make your purchase decision, and do that. But I would say in general, absolutely. It informs your target demographic.

Ajay Bam:
So we have seen brands who are surprised. They go into the analysis thinking that it's a particular target demographic, and then suddenly they notice, "Oh, wow, there's a lot more men who have also made videos in this category as well." So you can also use the insights to determine your demographic as well.

Ajay Bam:
Of course, messaging. Understanding what fans have already said about your product, and brand can also inform your future messaging as well. Maybe there's certain key points. Sometimes with sentiment analysis, you can also discover that for a part product category, there's this one feature that absolutely is resonating with all the customers.

Ajay Bam:
So, multiple ways to think about this, but I would say that in general, short form is a strategy, is a way to go.

Peter Crosby:
Yeah. Something that's additionally kind of cool about all this is that we've been talking a lot over the past year about the need, or the opportunity for brands to start getting first party data. Many are doing it by D to C platforms, and things like that.


Peter Crosby:
But there's also opportunities here for first party data to be coming out of this kind of feedback. Which I think part of that challenge is always how do you make sure that that data gets understood, and forwarded onto the right teams inside of the organization? Are you seeing that happening successfully with your customers? sort of that [crosstalk 00:29:13]-

Ajay Bam:
Absolutely. So it's a very good question. What's happening is we're not just limited to capturing data from social media. Brands on our platform, they can also run campaigns directly with their shoppers as well if they have their email address. So we actually have... not only do we have a brand login, we also have a creator login as well.

Ajay Bam:
Where creators can actually create a Vyrill account with an email address. They can respond to a campaign and upload a video. So we're also able to capture both video content, and data directly from customers. Through our platform, brands can even run directly when we discover the fan content. We also capture email addresses for the creator as well. By the way, we're GDPR compliance.

Ajay Bam:
So, when I say we capture email addresses, most of these emails are actually voluntarily on the YouTube page, or the Instagram page. Because fans do want brands to notice their content, or license their content, and more.

Ajay Bam:
We do capture videos from social. We capture videos directly from creators with direct campaigns. Then the third part of this is e-commerce as well. So with our Shopify integration now, Shopify brands can run a post-purchase campaign with customers.

Ajay Bam:
Where you can now invite customers to respond to, after they purchase a product, to respond to uploading the review, an unboxing video, or a how to video. Perhaps you can even reward them with a credit towards a next purchase for making that video.

Ajay Bam:
So multiple sources, multiple ways. I agree with you. The more brands can be also in direct touch with their customers, the more data, and insights, and behaviors, and options that they can capture from the customers to do more. Absolutely, we're seeing the strength. This is happening in all directions. It's happening on Amazon, and it's happening on Shopify. It's happening on social media and all of the platforms.

Peter Crosby:
So Ajay to close out, because there's so much that you're working on here. It's such a really cool little vibrant place of opportunity for brands. You started out the podcast by talking about sort of how Amazon coming to this has been an important development, I think, to driving the usefulness of this.

Peter Crosby:
I was wondering as you look forward into the future, what do you see Amazon doing with video that will create more opportunity for brands?

Ajay Bam:
Yeah. So I think what's happening is a couple of things right now. One is Amazon has now essentially opened the video host, if you will, for merchants to upload videos to their product pages. What we'll see in future is more tools either provided by Amazon, or third party companies like us that will help merchants source video content, vet the video content that meets the filters for Amazon.

Ajay Bam:
So every retail platform essentially has brand safety filters. So for example, Amazon might not want a mention of a coupon in the video, and mention of the competitors, Walmart, in the video as well. So I think where I see the future of where even Amazon is going in on all retailers, is either them or third parties starting to offer tools, and services to source videos, rate videos, vet videos for Amazon brand safety filters, or it could be a Walmart brand safety filter, or your brand safety filter for your brand.

Ajay Bam:
Then being able to license, and then average that video for product marketing. So the beauty is with both Amazon and with all of the platforms. Both e-commerce and social media platforms. Also there's 35 plus content creation platforms as well. Like Vimeo, and Clipchamp, where creators are making videos. We will see a lot of tools, video centric tools coming up on all these platforms.

Ajay Bam:
We'll see the future with all Amazon and other e-commerce platforms. We're seeing that the video has actually moved. So, previously two years ago, video was on the 15th row on the Amazon page. If you actually open up now, it's on the top now. It's actually in the car zone now. You can see the videos, and the product images.

Ajay Bam:
If you click on any video on Amazon, it opens up a UGC console. Where you can see the branded videos, and you can see all the fan videos that have been uploaded, or captured by Amazon. But they're all UGC content. I think no one better than Amazon knows this. That UGC and reviews, and fan content, and shopper content is much more useful.

Ajay Bam:
So that's one trend I see video moving up. The other trend I see is also, we'll see more new formats of videos coming up as well. Now, we're seeing more AR, and VR video content as well popping up.

Ajay Bam:
Of course, TikTok was a big breakup platform in 2020, and every year we're seeing new platforms. This Triller, which is coming up, and I'm sure there's another platform that is coming up. How do you really track, and stay on top of this video data, and make sense of it, and leverage it, is really what's on top of a lot of brands, and retailers' minds. That's really where we can help as well. So, yeah, that's where the future is.

Peter Crosby:
Well, Ajay, It's so tremendous to hear you talk about this. Because obviously, it's such an area of passion and focus for you for your company.

Peter Crosby:
I can only imagine what the issues of scale, and specificity that you are solving for, and how helpful that can be for a good portion of our listeners. So we really appreciate you joining us on the podcast. Thank you so much for sharing what you're working on.

Ajay Bam:
Yeah. Thank you. Thanks so much. I really appreciate this.

Lauren Livak:
Thank you.

Peter Crosby:
Thanks again to Ajay for joining us - just to reinforce, the spelling of his company is Vyrill - visit their website if you want to know more. Thanks as always for being part of our community.