on CDs, DVDs and the Web...

March, 2008

It seems I've re-written this every year, and that's probably because the technology changes so fast that I have to do so.

CDs were "the answer" a few years ago, until the cost of updating them was overtaken by the flexability of web-base projects. True: the web wasn't nearly as interactive; wasn't nearly as good at sound and video, and was nowhere near as engaging, but at least it could be easily changed with a minimum of expense.

Now it's come full circle, and there is no need to compromise anymore, as your target audience (and you) can enjoy the benefits of both, using the quality and interaction of a CD (or DVD) with the ease of updating via the internet.

Today's technology presents the high-quality detailed video and CD-quality sound, with completely transparent access of the latest data from the internet.

(side by side screenshots showing transparent updating.

In today's world, merely having a website is passe - in fact, it's expected. But if you want to sell, to educate, and to impress, you'll discover (as have the market-savvy like Ford, Chrysler, Warner Bros, Adidas and others) that a CD or DVD will do the job most efficiently.

If you're presenting your firm or selling a product, did you know that a target CD or DVD has a 7% to 50% response rate? That's 3 to 25 times higher than a brochure!

And for education or training, the interactive quality and the stunning full-frame video, when coupled with the most current information possible (accessed transparently [without a browser] from the web instead of being pressed into the CD) provides a rich learning environment that leaves web-only technology in the dust.

Here's how you can have the best of both worlds...

The most frequent question I get runs something like this:
" Why should I use a CD/DVD when we've got our internet website?"

It's certainly a reasonable question, and deserves a reasonable answer:
effectiveness and bang for the buck.

A website is perfectly suited for some uses, and a CD is better for some of the same, and other, uses.

Here are some quick considerations:

websites are not available if your user is "in the field;"
websites both go down and slow down;

for decent video, users require broadband connections, and as of 2008, just less than 50% have them;

video on the web is difficult to pause and replay or jump ahead;

there are security and privacy issues with the web; if you're selling a product, users want something "in hand" - a physical product - not a website...

...to name a few issues with websites, that are not issues with CDs and DVDs.

Here are some of the other things to consider when deciding...


The production costs of a good site, and a good interactive multimedia CD are about the same, but there are hidden costs with the internet that need to be considered.

" Wait! I already have my website. It's in the budget/paid for."

Then yep: your CD or DVD will cost you some more money. But even so, it may cost less... it's those darned hidden costs again.

Try this some time: run out to the beach; pick up a single grain of sand, and toss it back on the beach.

Now try to find it.

As of late 2007, there are an estimated 8.6 billion (yes, with a "b") web pages, and 110 million sites.

Those are worse odds than buying national television time.

A website is a wonderful method of information distribution... but it's not a "real thing" in the "real world" and therefore it's got to be found first. A friend of mine calls a web site "passive marketing" because of this.

A CD/DVD, on the other hand, is a real, tangible thing that your customer can hold in his hand... and it is always available. My friend calls this "active marketing."

OK: how do you get people to come to your web site? It's the same as it's been for the past 100 years of marketing... you advertise your site. Magazines; television; other websites; search engines.

Either way, CD/DVD or internet - this is going to cost you money. The question is how much, and how effectively will it be spent?

So: hidden cost number one: you've got to advertise your site.

With a CD or DVD, you know up front what the costs are... and they are minimal. (Don't think so? How many AOL CDs have you received?) You can hand out a CD for less than 50 cents. You can mail out a finished CD for less than a dollar.

Next, there is support for your website. You're going to have to pay someone (perhaps a whole department) to maintain it full time. What's that? $30,000 or more per year per employee? (Not to mention health care; insurance; taxes etc)

The cost of a CD (with some exceptions, which I'll mention below) is up-front and one time.

Hidden cost of the net, number two: support and maintenance.

Then there's hardware and the pipeline. You may run your own servers, or you may farm it out. Either way, you're paying for that as well. Maybe not much (a few hundred a month) or maybe a lot (several thousand to tens of thousands per month).

Are you paying to stream video? That adds up quickly. Are you paying by megabytes transferred? Number of hits?

The point is this: you are paying, so hidden cost number three is the infrastructure of a site.


And how about effectiveness of a website vs a CD?

Well, have you ever seen the internet "slow down," making access inconvenient, if not impossible? A CD doesn't suffer this technological problem.

Nor can your CD/DVD be hacked by malicious people, including competitors. Your website is vulnerable (not to mention expensive to protect).

And let's not overlook the most fundamental difference: your customer needs to be connected to the internet in order to view your website.

A CD (and often DVD) can be viewed anywhere: in a plane; in the desert; on a ship; in a park; in any hotel room... well, you get it.

Another significant part of effectiveness is appeal. The more appealing your message, the more the user is engaged, and thus the more effective your message.

Even with broadband DSL, the net is not yet capable of simultaneously providing CD-quality music, video, audio and interactivity, in one application that responds quickly to the users keystrokes. (They call it "CD-quality" for a reason, you know!)

Flash™ and streaming postage-stamp size jerky video are amazing when viewed in the context of the internet upon which they run...
...but you can deliver flawless, 30 fps video, full stereo sound, and breathtaking photos on a CD, something that the internet webmaster can only dream about.


Finally, I often hear: "Yes, but I can easily update my website, but once a CD is pressed, it's pressed, and if I want to update information on it, I'd have to pay for a whole new CD and mailing."


In fact, I use a development environment that allows content for the CD to be drawn from any location... including the internet! As long as a connection exists, you can post weekly, daily, heck - even hourly - updates to changing data, and the user will never know that it's not right there on the CD.

You can see the example at the top of this article.


I'm not saying that there's an "either-or" decision here, but only that CD or DVD may be far more effective, far more cost-effective than you may have thought at first.

Used in conjunction with your existing website, you can reach people anywhere, any time with rich, powerful, truly engaging presentations and information, video and stunning sound.

Whether you're educating, selling, or both, the use of a CD or DVD may well save you thousands of dollars, and will certainly create a lasting impression on your target audience.

Now: how about esponse pieces - CD or Brochure?

10,000 16 page 8x10 brochures, professionally designed, duplicated and mailed : about $15,000.

10,000 CDs with audio, video, and a user-printable PDF brochure (and mailed): about $25,000.

Responses from the brochure (2.5%): 250

Responses from the CD (7%): 700

If your product sells for $500, and you sell only half of the responses:

Brochure net profit: $47.5K ($62,500 - $15,000)

CD net profit: $150,000 ($175,000 - $25,000)

Extra profit by using a CD: $102,500.

The extra profit above brochures is 4x the initial cost of the whole project!

Response pieces - CD/DVD or VHS video tape?

A 60 minute video tape costs about $3.60* to duplicate. The mailer is about 70 cents, and at a total of 8 to 10 oz weight, the package will cost about $2.75 to mail domestically.

Total cost of VHS response-package: $6.35.

Cost of CD with up to 2 hours of video; interactivity; net access; stills and music, including mailer - 45 cents.

Cost of mailing 1.0 oz CD: 43 cents.

Total cost of CD reply package: 88 cents.

CDs offer a better, more engaging, more valuable response-piece for less than 1/7 the cost of VHS.

And while I'm on the subject of costs, what about production costs? Well, honestly, that's rough: DVD/video or CD - it's all dependant on what you want done, and therefore, the prices can range all over the spectrum.

CDs generally range from about $5000 and go up from there. If your needs are simple, expect a bit less; if complex, expect more.

I'd be pleased to have a straight-forward talk with you about costs and benefits of video and multimedia, as I do them both.

Call me direct at 831 884-9432.

*(all prices US)