ExpoTV's Ask an Owner consumer interaction platform promises consumer-crafted video product reviews.
Expo Communications, proprietor of Web-based social network ExpoTV for consumers wishing to share product
information, has released the beta version of a platform that allows customers
to ask each other specific questions about products they buy.
Ask an Owner, announced May 20, allows consumers to create and post their
own video product reviews of up to 75MB in file size for public viewing.
"There are lots of places where a customer can ask questions and lots
of sites have product reviews," said Expo Communications Vice President
David Rubinstein. "But at the end of the day, you don't know who's posting
that review or their relationship with the product."
Because ExpoTV users film themselves with their products, Rubinstein said,
they can provide an "authentic response" about product-related
questions. Using the Ask an Owner platform, a consumer can have a question
about a specific product automatically sent to all the users who have posted
reviews about it. Replies to the questions are sent in text format with a link
to the original video review.
According to Jessica Thorpe, director of marketing for ExpoTV, so far
testing of Ask an Owner has revealed that 41 percent of consumer questions are
answered within an hour, 51 percent of questions are answered within 2 hours,
and almost 80 percent of questions are answered within one day.
Rubinstein said Ask an Owner will also be made available to manufacturers
and retailers for marketing purposes. Companies will be able to link directly
to the Ask an Owner platform from their Web sites so prospective customers can
ask product questions of ExpoTV users.
"They will be able to link to ExpoTV and we
will become the seal of product approval," Rubinstein said. "It's the
ultimate in a company saying, 'I'm confident in my product.' It's a
third-party-managed source of information."
Rubinstein said retailers and manufacturers will also
be able to license ExpoTV content, use ExpoTV as a "next-generation
research platform" and have access to "engagement communities"
of users. "They will have the ability to invite people who talked about a
certain product to solicit feedback and share concepts," he said. "We
can create a safe environment for advertisers [to interact with consumers]."
Vahe Katros, a
user experience consultant based in Palo Alto , California , said that ExpoTV
could be a powerful tool for obtaining empathy with customers. "The root of
customer-centricity is empathy, and what a shame that we have this fantastic
vehicle to listen and we miss that rich window after the sale, when the
consumer's mind is full of insights that can move the dial on who we are as a
brand," said Katros.
"Social networking can be a big
source of noise, or it can be a resource for understanding the unmet needs and
goals of the consumer," he added. "Finally, someone gets it; it's all about
context and what ExpoTV is doing is providing a vehicle to probe for insights
when it matters, during those fleeting moments after the sale when meaningful