NEW YORK: The release of Apple's new video iPod has sparked the interest of marketers who see new opportunities for the device.
In just five weeks, there have already been more than 1 million downloads of video content from the iTunes store.
In addition to music videos, Apple has partnered with ABC to offer archived episodes of shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives.
Shortly after the launch, Burger King, independent of Apple, announced that it would sponsor short comedy films for the video iPod. It brokered the deal with Heavy.com, a video download site.
As part of its deal, the fast-food chain supplied Heavy.com with "King" masks, which the site encouraged visitors to incorporate into their own short films.
"We don't only look at the TV advertising we're doing," said Gillian Smith, Burger King's senior director of interactive media. "We look at the other ways we can reach our consumers. Our partnership with [Heavy.com] allows us to merge this user-generated content with our sponsorship of its video iPod downloads section."
Smith noted that the company chose the website because of its popularity with customers; it was not a concerted decision to target consumer-generated media.
But Mike Spataro, EVP of the web relations group at Weber Shandwick, noted that Burger King's strategy of enabling consumer-generated content is the way to go.
"Companies are going to look at how they can rally brand evangelists to become producers of content," he said. "Forward-thinking brands have already put together plans. You can build a new level of relationships with your customers."
Spataro was one of the many people in line for the video iPod on the day of its launch.
"We think the [marketing] potential for it is awesome," Spataro said. "We're already starting to get requests from clients about ideas. This could provide a tremendous extension of a PR campaign."
While Spataro acknowledged that audio podcasting has not reached mainstream status yet, he noted that people are moving more quickly to embrace the opportunities with video.
Michael Wiley, director of new media at early podcast adopter GM, has also begun playing with a video iPod.
"GM is keenly interested in the various applications for the video-enabled iPods, and we are experimenting with various ideas," Wiley said. "We create a lot of video, and we think people would love to get their hands on portable video."
Wiley hypothesized that applications could include behind-the-scenes footage of car design and manufacturing. And he noted that the production value doesn't even have to be pristine.
"As long as it's at least 30-frame-per-second video and has some lighting, people would dig it," Wiley said.
Matthew MacQueen, experience planning director for Arc Worldwide, noted that companies can use the video iPod as an extension of other video programming. He cited the example of a cooking show providing five-minute segments on techniques such as dicing an onion or reducing a sauce.
Films can similarly offer rough cuts or short segments with the directors or cast, he added.
Spataro said that the medium would really see traction when the video iPod price point decreases from its current $300-$400 range, and other devices flood the market.
"There's definitely a small target right now, but we expect it to grow with the launch of other devices," MacQueen said.