A New ‘D’ in DTV

Call it distribution TV. Electronics distributors are increasingly using video to assist their customers.

Distributors aren't the only members of the supply chain to use video, but they do hold a unique position in the industry hierarchy. They represent a wide range of products from hundreds of component suppliers. Part of the channel's job is to understand how these products interact. Video presents the opportunity to show — as well as tell — how things are put together.

The catalog distributor element14 has assembled all its video offerings in one place, element14 TV. “Within our community, we see a lot of video content posted, and we've seen the popularity of video skyrocket,” Diane Kibbey, global head of community and e-procurement for element14, told us. “We've assembled it so users have a single place to go and to view all the video content we have available.”

Element14 is a sponsor of the Ben Heck Show , which features the hobbyist Ben Heckendorn building his creations. The Internet TV show has been a big draw for element14, which recently launched the A Day In the Life of an Engineer video series.

“Ben Heck building his designs has really resonated with our customers,” says Kibbey. “We think the level of detail available in video is more interesting than just a lot of dry product detail. We've also seen that personality — enthusiasm, humor — is better than looking at a white board or a PowerPoint presentation.”

Distributors and suppliers have been using video for product training, design and assembly demonstrations, and marketing programs. Element14 sees its offering as complementary to the other content it has available on its site, ranging from product datasheets to the embedded design site the knode.

“We want to give customers the choice of how they want to engage with us,” says Kibbey. “Sometimes it's written, as with datasheets, but it can also be entertaining. We want to take whatever our customers are interested in and make it easy for them to find it.”

13 comments on “A New ‘D’ in DTV

  1. AnalyzeThis
    December 21, 2011

    I know Ben Heck from way, way back… glad to see he's still doing what he does best and hopefully he's enjoying some big success!

    Of course, the big challenge with this type of thing is trying to make this type of stuff remotely entertaining. Did I say BIG challenge? Actually, it's more of a TREMENDOUS challenge.

    Still, while these type of videos will never get the type of viewers that say, a video of a cat getting gift wrapped would get on YouTube, I still think there is potential to do interesting (and entertaining!) things in this sector.

    So I applaud Element14 for their efforts!

  2. mario8a
    December 21, 2011

    We have the video comment option in EBN, have anybody use it? In my previous company an interactive site has been for a while, where user guides are online available with an interactive video. Have you seen the 3D bar code where you show it to your cell phone and automatically opens a link with all the product info?

  3. Anand
    December 22, 2011

    Barbara , thanks for the post. I just visisted element 14 TV and the site looks very informative. I earlier used to refer EFY for building hobby electronics project. Now I will start referring this site. Thanks again for sharing this info.

  4. JADEN
    December 22, 2011

    This is more information-rich for product design and development.  Great.

  5. Ariella
    December 22, 2011

    @maio8a You bring up video comments. I haven't seen them used much, though I have seen them on other boards. Other boards also use video to present v-blogs on a regular basis. I do see more and more videos online to convey information in the style of short news reports with clips. Personally, I still prefer text because I can read the info faster than the video plays. But some people really like the combination of pictures and voice.

  6. _hm
    December 22, 2011

    Thanks for very interesting and useful information. This is equally helpful to novice and professional. More semiconductor manufacturers should join in this effort.


  7. Barbara Jorgensen
    December 22, 2011

    I've been dragged kicking and screaming into video myself (recording, not watching) but from what I've seen on several sites, it's a lot more fun than reading datasheets!

    December 22, 2011

    I remember seeing an engineering VP from Linear Tech doing a demo of some new chips by video blog and it came across very well.  The viewer is led to believe the parts are good and the senior managers really know what they are doing…..great stuff.

  9. t.alex
    December 23, 2011

    Yes definitely, especially for consumer products. However, anyone seen more videos which showcase the use of certain chip/components?

  10. Eldredge
    December 23, 2011

    Haven't had a chance to view many of these videos yet, but this is an interetsing way to promote technology products. I'll be doing some more exploring at Element14.

  11. Himanshugupta
    December 23, 2011

    I watched some tech videos and its pretty impressive to know technology behind the products than just knowing the specs and specifications. I do not know whether an executive telling about the product would make a huge difference but a tech expert would for sure make a difference.

  12. Taimoor Zubar
    December 26, 2011

    I think video is an effective means of communication information and certainly much better than text. However, video is still one-dimensional where there is limited interaction with the user. The next level in this can be a technology which could be more interactive with the end-user. This could be in the form of a virtual 3D store where the user is able to browse products of their choice, get 3D views of them, and watch videos. This should certainly improve the experience.

  13. Daniel
    December 27, 2011

    Barbara, most of the distribution channels are attaching video clips along with the brochure. This video clips can provide a 2D or 3D view of the components or objects. Dimension is very important aspect in selecting the components for PCB. Moreover videos can provide a better realistic looks also.

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