Me!Box upgrades video platform with 'scary' good features

New Tech Press has been using the video platform from Mebox Media, with great success for more than two years now and we were both concerned and intrigued when they let us know they were making a significant change this year. Would the upgrade be as easy to use? How will it affect the engagement level? And what about that scary new feature that lets you know who is watching? Yeah, that’s part of it.We sat down with CEO Mark Jacobs and COO Ken Fitchler to ask these questions and got some fascinating answers. Here's the interview:

me!box Media changes game for social video

Product ReviewBy Lou Covey, New Tech Press Editorial Director

Video has become an increasingly significant part social media because it has a lot going for it.

First, it is passively engaging, just like television. The developed world is used to plopping in front of a screen and allow two dimensional images entertain, inform and cajole us into specific action. We are more likely to consume advertising content through video then we are through print which makes it the most valuable advertising platform. Second, it is ubiquitous. You don’t see many people walking down the street reading a newspaper or magazine. That usually requires a cup of coffee, a sidewalk cafe and about 30 quiet minutes. It is not unusual, however, to see someone walking down the street, watching a podcast on a mobile device. About 5 years ago I was taking the train to San Francisco riding in the upper deck and looked down to see a dozen people on the train watching video on phones and iPods. I knew video had jumped the chasm at that point.

But the passivity of the viewer is the one thing that makes it a negative. There is no easy call to action as there is with online text. You can embed links into the text, making it easy for the audience to go deeper into your content. You can collect much more data from a text document than you can from a video.

Me!box Media has changed that.

me!box is a video platform that allows producers to embed links, documents, other videos... any kind of link you would put into a text document... into a video (See how we did it here.)

The platform adds a relatively small bar on the right of the video. Links appear in sequence to when they are mentioned in the video. The platform allows the producer to stop the video at specific points, if necessary to allow the audience to view the additional content, or to let the video continue on as the audience looks at additional visual content.

There are some video platforms that offer this type of feature on a very limited level. For example, Youtube allows you to embed links to other Youtube videos, or become subscribers to specific channels. But no platform I’ve been able to find creates the level of engagement that me!box provides.

This is not an experimental platform. HP and Intel have used me!box for their training programs and me!box Media is talking to B2B publishing companies about incorporating the platform into their online publications. This latter use is where I see the real value.

Footwasher Media did several NTP video interviews that were shared with multiple publications last year. The online editors love them because they produced high traffic, and in fact, the produce high traffic on the sponsor sites that ran them as well. But the love wasn’t there among the sponsors for the very reason that engagement was only passive. The clients preferred the text content because it drove active engagement by the audience.

Video is high value to online publications because it keeps people on the page, but it is low value to many advertisers because it doesn’t drive people to their sites or material. You can insert ads into the video, but, again, there is no active engagement. Using me!box, publications can have the high, passive engagement of the video, which creates more impressions, but advertisers can get traffic directly from the video, get the audience to download additional content and actively share.

One downside to the publishers is that they may have to do a page redesign to accommodate the expanded width of the me!box platform.

“We don’t call it a redesign,” Me!box Media CEO Mark Jacobs told me. “ we say we are opening a larger value-add space.”

Jacobs has the data to back up the definition. Me!box videos get twice the play time, three times the engagement and and sharing, and up to five times the clocks-to-action and impressions of YouTube or Brightcove videos (see chart), according to Jacobs.

“Typically, the me!box space becomes the highest return per square inch on a page. It’s like throwing out a free newspaper rack and replacing it with a video vending machine.”

Other than the rather annoying spelling of the company name (Really? An exclamation point in the middle? My spell checker actually swore at me) This platform opens the potential of social video for many applications.

You can find out more about me!box at Tell ‘em the guys from Footwasher Media sent you.

Note: me!box is still a relatively new technology and is optimized currently only for the desktop/laptop world.  The company is working on the third release of the product and starting from the mobile direction.  Viewing video on the platform on handheld devices is still fairly sketchy.