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Is Marks & Spencer Being Naughty?

As an online marketer, I always find it interesting to see which of the “big brands” are using some of the newer features that Google now supports … so I’ve been looking at which brands are using video sitemaps for their products pages.

What are video sitemaps?

Video sitemaps add cool looking stuff to your listings

Video Sitemaps and VideoObject Schema allow webpages featuring videos to add a thumbnail from the video next to their listings on the Google search engine results page. Since it can make your listing stand out, it may have a beneficial effect on the number of people clicking from Google to your site. It’s not amazingly complicated to add to a website (guide by Phil Nottingham) … and it’s not that new either.

But does video help with sales?

Apparently video has become more important in the sales process as customers consult more sources of information than ever before whilst evaluating a purchase. A recent Animoto study (covered on Econsultancy) found that 96% of consumers find video useful when buying online. Many companies create videos for nearly every product they sell.

So Which brands are using video sitemaps?

Apparently not a lot of you. Seriously Asos, Top Shop and River Island: what is your spend on digital and why don’t you have a fricking video sitemap? Asos. I am so disappointed with you. Kudos to Play.com and others for using it properly.

One company I checked was using it. Or maybe abusing it.

Say “Hello”, Marks & Spencer!

M&S recently launched a new website at a cost of £150 million which has divided opinion. Since it confused my mum and fails on many UX principles (TMI), I’m in the “against” camp … but others here seem to like it.

Here’s a listing of the videos on their site (source: Google). Click through to any of the product pages and … where’s the video, Marks? Admittedly I’ve not tried them all but have a look at the SERPs for Quick Fastening Plimsolls, Gold Label Rosé, Leather Buckle Dispatch Bag and Scoop Neck Sequin Cardigan.

Winners don't cheat at the SERPs
Am I being dense here or is Marks & Sparks abusing video markup to get a fancy product thumbnail next to their results without actually coughing up the readies to pay some intern with a video camera to make a 30-second clip of their products? (Don’t do this; get a video professionally made!)

The only other way of getting shiny product pictures next to your listing is by paying Google for Product Listing Adverts (section highlighted in yellow) and you have to pay out every time someone clicks on one of those. This seems to be the reason for Marks’ apparent “deception” of Google. J’accuse! J’accuse!

J'accuse!

Apparently £150 million doesn’t buy you what it used to.

Update

I’ve checked this again on Monday morning and some of the video results are being stripped out – but not all of them. Wonder if there’s something else here.

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