Why Google Helpouts Is an Opportunity for Brands


Written by on Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Google Helpouts guitar session

Helpouts is Google’s new service that wants to connect users with experts. For brands, it means interacting with customers one-on-one via live video. 

It’s been three months since the launch of Helpouts, Google’s new video market place. Helpouts utilizes Hangouts technology and allows users to connect with experts directly to solve problems and learn new skills. For example, if you want to learn how to play the guitar, you can book a live tutorial with a music teacher.

The experiment started small in November with five brands and about a thousand pre-screened experts in eight categories including fitness and nutrition, computers and electronics, health, and cooking. Out of the pilot brands, Sephora and Rosetta Stone are offering sessions in their area of expertise for a fee, while Weight Watchers doesn’t charge for consultations.

One of the benefits of traditional videos is the possibility to communicate cost effectively with a number of consumers over time. You produce a video for a fixed cost and try to get as many views to get the cost-per-view down, or alternatively, estimate your reach and desired cost per view and use that to define your production budget.

With Helpouts, the fixed costs can be higher because a brand representative has to spend, let’s say, a half an hour one-on-one with each customer. But there are also significant benefits:

  • Value creation: Teaching consumers how to make the most out of your product means they get more bang for their buck
  • Feedback: Your customers will give you input on your product and service and you’ll be the first to learn about how their needs are changing
  • Brand advocacy: When you build personal relationships with individual customers, you have a better chance of turning them into brand advocates
  • Experience: Helpouts is ultimately a channel for experiential marketing, allowing brands to create memorable experiences for their customers
  • Revenue: Instead of buying views for how to videos, companies can charge users for sessions. That raises the bar for the offering, but it can also be an opportunity to generate revenue.
About the author

Vilja Sormunen looks after publishing and distribution at online video agency KLOK. She has previously worked in social marketing at Nokia as the global YouTube channel lead, online marketing at e-commerce company Spreadshirt and public relations at TBWA/Helsinki. Vilja studied international business at the Helsinki School of Economics and wrote her Master's thesis on viral marketing.