Daily Dose of iQ: Amazon's 'Video Shorts' Sell You Something on Every Video

Jul 30, 2014 — Beth Wanner

Mashable reported Monday (July 28), on a new platform Amazon has created to merge e-commerce and online video watching. It's called "Video Shorts" (seen above).

With the recent launch of the Amazon Fire smartphone, it's safe to assume Amazon is trying to introduce a means of competing with YouTube (owned by Google) on its own Amazon Fire OS.

Mashable's Adario Strange noted that as it stands, "unlike YouTube, most of the videos (on Amazon Video Shorts) appear to be from companies with their own channels rather than individual uploaders." So this is primarily an advertising and e-commerce sales platform, which hopes to become an entertainment destination where viewers are "shopping" without even knowing it.

If it works, it's a great way of demonstrating that no matter what you're interested it, Amazon has a means of selling it to you.

Video Shorts: Good in theory, but currently terrible in practice.

I tried out Video Shorts today and came up with a few pros and cons:

PROs:

  • It's an entertaining site for mindlessly wasting time and provides great exposure for Amazon.
  • Being able to purchase items related to a video appeals to consumers' desires for simplicity and immediacy.

CONs:

  • Maybe they're still testing the site, but it offered a very poor user experience when accessing from a mobile device (I have a Samsung Galaxy S5). This is where having an Amazon Fire Phone or tablet may offer a better (native app?) experience. I could not find a single video that allowed me to click through to make any purchases (see above photo).
  • And on the desktop site, there was no ability to share videos via social media. Wouldn’t they want me to share interesting content and potential purchases with my network? Some videos wouldn't play for me on the desktop version either (see below photo).
  • Strange noted the site also doesn't show the view counts on each video, "a missed social component that could help boost the virality of videos."
  • These cons make the whole site idea seem kind of half-baked. Here's to hoping Video Shorts is still in beta...

In a recent wrap on Amazon Fire reviews, one reviewer pointed out the following: The Fire Phone runs a special version of Android, which ties the phone to its own app store, cutting out Google Play completely. This is bad for longtime Android users, who may have to re-download many apps. "Popular apps - like Google Maps and Google Drive - aren't even available. Does Amazon hope to cut Google/YouTube out of the video consumption game on its devices? Users expect staple apps like Google Maps and YouTube, so sidestepping them seems like a doomed plan.

Amazon keeps trying to reinvent the wheel when it should be adding new parts to its exhisting vehicle.

On the other hand, Amazon building its own OS doesn’t seem like an attractive option either given the challenges faced by BlackBerry and Windows Phone in the current number-three spot. Amazon may have gotten greedy and reached too far beyond what it's good at. Amazon and Google are both juggernauts in their own space. Amazon should work to build a mutually beneficial relationship that sees them using Google’s popularity to their advantage. (Build click-thru shopping opportunities into YouTube powered by Amazon?)

Time will tell, but with the Fire Phone and now with Video Shorts, Amazon keeps trying to reinvent the wheel when it should be adding new parts to its exhisting vehicle.

Topics: Wireless Trends, Mobile Industry, e-Commerce, Retail Marketing

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