This is the latest in Localogy’s Skate To Where the Puck is Going series. Running semi-weekly, it examines the moves and motivations of tech giants as leading indicators for where markets are moving. Check out the entire series here, and its origin here.
With continued local commerce impacts from a global pandemic, lots of SMB-focused tech companies are providing support. This list is long and growing, including things like Facebook’s SMB cash grants and ad credits; Yelp’s similar moves; and of course the SMB portions of the CARES act (sign-up friction aside).
Google has made several SMB-centric moves as well, many of which involve capabilities and support around communicating critical and dynamic business details in Google My Business (think: hours of operations, closures). But the latest move comes from YouTube, with a toolset for video ad creation.
Known as YouTube Video Builder, it offers drag & drop ease in putting together promotional videos. This includes premade templates, music and the ability to use existing 2D assets. Options include 6- second or 15-second videos, promoted and distributed with all the ease of a YouTube link or embed.
According to YouTube’s post about the new feature:
“Different businesses have different creative needs. A restaurant may want to communicate changing hours or promotions, while a supermarket may highlight new services like curbside pickup. For brands or agencies with existing video resources, Video Builder can help bring agility and experimentation to the creation process by generating supplemental, lightweight videos. For smaller businesses and those with less creative experience, it can provide an efficient, low-resource way to create videos, perhaps even for the first time.”
SMBs sign up using a Google account — or link their non-Google email address — and a YouTube channel to access the editing features and save the video. Finished videos are then available as links that the SMB can share or embed selectively. They can also run videos through the Google Ads program.
These tools were reportedly already in the works, but were accelerated and made free, given the potential impact they can have in helping SMBs attract business in challenging times. SMBs are obviously facing greater headwinds now than they normally do in keeping cash registers ringing.
The stated intention from YouTube is to give SMBs this communication tool at both a time that they need it; and a time when the ability to produce traditional videos is diminished. That’s not only due to time constraints but traditional on-site video production requirements (read: people in close contact).
And beyond the goal of helping SMBs market themselves at a critical time, it’s also about the practical need to get new messaging out the door. This can involve messaging around new service formats, or some of the new product delivery methods that resourceful SMBs have gotten creative with.
“We think Video Builder can help businesses of all sizes who need quick videos, especially now, when we’ve heard from many businesses that they need to update their messaging to customers quickly and easily,” YouTube Ads director of Product Management Ali Miller told Techcrunch.
Of course, low-friction video ad tools for SMBs aren’t new. These started to roll out about a decade ago from Spot Runner, Jivox and others. But like anything else, it’s all about timing. Some idle SMBs may utilize idle business time to create videos, thus developing a new skill that sustains beyond the crisis.
This could be yet another positive habit that’s created or discovered in a time of forced new perspectives. We’ll see that concept continue to apply to lots of aspects of our lives and work, including the way local commerce is done — a potential silver lining as the world deals with difficult times.