Talkway Records Response for Western Union Video E-Mail Campaign

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Talkway Communications, which two months ago released a video-enabled service tailored for the direct marketing industry, last week reported success from a recent e-mail campaign in which it provided video capabilities for Western Union Commercial Services, a unit of Western Union. The campaign recorded a 32 percent click-through rate and a nearly 3 percent conversion rate.

The video service -- MarketingTalk -- aims to benefit marketers in several ways. In addition to the video, which is embedded into e-mail and banner advertising campaigns, Talkway, Palo Alto, CA, offers encoding technology that uploads the video content to Talkway's servers, allowing companies to reach a broader audience.

The technology lets companies deliver video messages to Internet users that may lack the latest software and have only a modem connection, for example.

"That's important for advertisers because it allows them to have a guarantee of consistency of message," said Fabrice Hamaide, president/CEO of Talkway. "They want a consistent delivery of the same message to anybody, however they connect and get to that Web page or e-mail."

Hamaide said Talkway studied the availability of Real Player and Windows Media Player, which are programs that let Internet users run video content. It found that only 61 percent of Web users had either program.

"That's not the right solution," he said. "That's the reason we created the solution in-stream. It provides virtually guaranteed delivery."

Talkway can encode video content taken in VHS, 8mm or digital formats for streaming via the Internet, Hamaide said. After the content is uploaded to Talkway servers, the video messages are sent and recipients can open them by clicking a link in an e-mail, for instance.

Talkway's technology lets companies track the effectiveness of video messaging. A company can determine whether a consumer actually saw the video, played it a second time, muted the sound or forwarded the message to a friend, Hamaide said.

Western Union Commercial Services, Englewood, CO, a provider of message services, tracked its video messaging and came across flourishing results. The company ran an e-mail campaign for a client to promote a cruise to a South Pacific country, Hamaide said, and recorded the aforementioned rates in the first seven days of the drive. The industry standards for e-mail click-through and conversion rates, he said, are 11 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

"Some people say a picture is worth a thousand words," Hamaide said. "Well, a video is worth a million words."

Western Union Commercial Services, which signed a three-year partnership with Talkway in late June, adds the video messaging technology to its mail, fax and voice messaging services. The new service will be called the Western Union Video Telegram.

"The idea of a video telegram or e-mail was a natural extension for us," said Carlan Dodson, director of product development at Western Union Commercial Services.

Dodson said the Western Union division, after an 18-month search, chose Talkway's video services because of the universal reach.

"We wanted every individual who received one of these messages to be able to easily view it without having to have Real Player or Windows Media Player," he said. "We found that through Talkway, it gave us that ubiquity and gave the type of message that the consumer can click on and within 10 to 15 seconds [he or she] can start viewing the video."

Talkway also provides a service called PersonalTalk, which lets companies and consumers use video on other Internet applications, such as e-greeting cards and online classifieds. The service, Hamaide said, has a software component called the Talkway recorder that runs inside the Web page and lets end-users create or upload their own video content before sending it through a variety of applications.

Hamaide thinks the difference between Talkway and its rivals is its partnership with camera manufacturer Alaris, Freemont, CA. Alaris, a video products provider, offers Talkway the compression technology that allows it to deliver videograms and e-mail messages, he said. Alaris also sets up the technology that enables Talkway to stream video content into its servers.

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