Issue: Sep 2008


Video puts salesroom on the desktop - VCL SiSTer technology



Video puts salesroom on the desktop - VCL SiSTer technology

by Steve Barclay

Streaming video is taking the salesroom to the desktop of potential buyers through the web.
In April, the Dallas, Texas-based SiSTeR Technologies won a contract to provide the dealerships of Sonic Automotive, 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. SiSTeR Technologies was founded in 2003 and is the world’s only provider of fully automated video rendering systems.
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. The videos are also used in outbound marketing, distributed to cars.com and autotrader.com and posted on YouTube.
"We closely monitored leads and calls to dedicated 800 numbers on a week-by-week basis and saw a significant improvement in lead submissions," says Rachel Richards, vice-president of retail strategy and process management at Sonic Automotive.
SiSTeR’s technology includes its 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 process is fully automated, instantaneous and costs less than 1% of traditional video production, according to the company.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Israel Alpert, president and chief executive officer of SiSTeR Technologies, how VCL has changed the way customers buy cars:
Alpert: VCL has revolutionized the way consumer’s shop and 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. 
AI: What research do you have to support your claims of the effectiveness of video?
Alpert:
Measuring the activities of over 10,000 visitors to several dealerships’ web site established 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?
Alpert:
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 first 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?  
Alpert:
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.

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