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Will small retailers shine on Yell.com's video channel?

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Yell.com is seeking to harness the YouTube effect by giving small business advertisers the chance to upload their own video to its site.

High street shops can now use the Shop View service, launched this week, to show potential customers just what they look like. It’s aimed at giving retailers and other small businesses a new way to stand out from the crowd.

Retailers can either make their own video and upload it for free, or they can commission Yell to make one for them. Yell says the videos can be as home-made or polished as each company wants – and can even be shot on a phone.

Once uploaded, anyone looking at the business’ listing on Yell.com can click through to see the film. Films are categorized through business type, and viewers can also rate them by giving them stars.

Companies can also put their films on YouTube or other social media in order to give an extra window on their business.

Matthew Bottomley, who heads innovations at Yell.com says: “Every High Street can now become a local film festival of dramas, documentaries, rom-coms, musicals, thrillers, chillers and soap operas.

"Like the early days of Hollywood, ShopView will give the unsung stars of the nation's shops and businesses the chance to become stars of the screen. If it's clever or funny enough, it would be easy for one of these films to go viral and even get a global audience.

"It's all part of Yell's mission to perfectly match up Britain's businesses with their local customers, so everyone gets just what they need."

Initially the service features some 5,000 businesses’ videos, chiefly from the London area, but that is set to grow fast.

Our view: Of course, businesses have been able to make their own films and upload them to YouTube for quite some time, linking to them from their own website. The advantage that Yell.com offers here is an organizational one – giving retailers and other businesses a way to stand out at the point of search.

And, as Matthew Bottomley says, there is also the chance for a video to go viral. Here’s an example of a video that’s currently highly-rated on the site. It’s amusing, but does it sell their services? I’m not sure it does, but certainly there is potential in this medium for those videos that do. But there’s also a lot of room for failure, especially if the DIY approach is adopted too eagerly.

What do you think? Tell us by leaving a comment on the site.

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