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In April, the Dallas, Texas-based SiSTeR Technologies won a contract to provide the dealerships of Sonic Automotive Inc’s, with online videos for the vehicle inventory. SiSTeR will provide wall-to-wall services of video rendering, distribution and publication -- collectively known as Video Car Lot or VCL.
VCL creates a fully automated video clip also known as Video Walk A-Round, for every vehicle in dealership inventory. Existing data, photos and text are used to create the Video Walk A-Rounds which are embedded in the index and details listing. In addition to website use, the Video Walk-Arounds are used in outbound marketing, distributed to cars.com and autotrader.com and even posted on YouTube in fully automated mode.
"We closely monitored leads and calls to dedicated 800 numbers on a week-by-week basis and saw a significant improvement in lead submissions. Objective data from the test was a key factor in our decision to select SiSTeR Technologies," said Rachel Richards, vice-president of retail strategy and process management at Sonic Automotive."
SiSTeR proprietary technology is the only fully automated platform which video files that can be played using any flash player. However, the company’s 3DF player allows the inclusion of vehicle history reports, OEM pre-owned certification and even real time messaging and targeted, keyword based advertisement.
"When we released the 1st version of VCL in mid 2006 only handful of dealers signed with us" said Israel Alpert, president and CEO of SiSTeR Technologies "a year later over 1,500 were using VCL and today we are twice as big as the combined competition. Our strategy of marketing VCL thorough a selected network of the industry service provider enabled us to concentrate on product development and establish a huge innovation gap."
SiSTeR Technologies was founded in 2003 and is the world’s only provider of fully automated video rendering systems. The company’s technology includes its proprietary Media Generator or m-GEN server which brings video to the masses by creating full motion video with background music, voice-over and special effects using pictures and text. The video rendering process is fully automated, instantaneous and the cost is less than 1 per cent of traditional video production.
SiSTeR provides it service in ASP mode as well as license model. The company’s enterprise application, called SiSTeR-Prize manages the rules, data feeds and a cluster
of mGen servers. The SiSTeR-Prize can be scaled to handle any load by simply adding more servers. For playback, the SiSTeR-Prize assembles any number of media ID’s on the fly and the content is played back in progressive download or streaming.
Automotive Industries spoke to Israel Alpert, president and chief executive officer of SiSTeR Technologies:
AI: How has VCL revolutionized the way consumers’ view and purchase cars online?
VCL has revolutionized the way consumer’s shop & purchase cars online by eliminating the tedious task of searching through data on a dealer’s website. With VCL the consumer is presented in 30 seconds or less a video Walk A-Round that delivers a presentation including the key features and benefits of the vehicle.
An A/B was conducted over a 12 week period measured the effect of VCL by turning on and off the video icons randomly such that 50% of the visitors were presented with Vehicle Walk A-Rounds while the other 50% were provided the same exact inventory and prices but without video and a different 800 number.
Measuring the activities of over 10,000 visitors to several dealerships’ web site is was establish that the with-video potential customers submitted 87% more leads and 70% more calls than the without-video group while hits on the CARFAX reports increased 48% - clearly demonstrating a sharp rise in the consumer’s interest .
AI: What are some of the emerging trends in online automotive retailing?
First of all including video at the point of sale is the biggest trend we have seen thus far.
One other emerging trend that we have noticed is that dealers are starting to focus a lot of local demographics; video is a great way to deliver messages to these demographics.
Next is embedding video clips in search results, Google maps and Google Base. Dealers participating in the Beta testing of Push Tube are showing 1st place in the organic search and they already reporting calls into the dedicated 800 number.
AI: What are some of the new technologies SiSTeR is working on to meet future challenges?
Our XML-API platform that returns a video clip for every item within minutes is being released as we speak – that allows us to respond to the explosive demand of the automotive industry while expanding to the real estate, travel and hospitality markets.
Our NuCar is a product is being developed in response for the OEM’s needs of providing their potential buyers with non-generic video of every model and every trim. The configurator of the future will present the potential buyer video clip of the configurator process within few seconds.
The most exciting part, however, is the keywords triggers that allows for display of targeted ads, at the precise time to the precise audience since our 3DF player "knows" every word and every phrase that used to create the video.