What started out in a room in the attic has grown into an online video production company in ten years’ time, expanding even beyond the country’s borders. David Behrens (42) and Thomas Hop (32) dare to say it out loud: there are but few Dutch people who have never seen an interactive or personal video produced by Ping. It is a classic success story.
Reminiscing about their early days, David cannot help but suppress a smile. From his room in the attic, he paved the way for what are now two thriving companies: Ping Media, which is producing content that moves people and, in 2011, PingOnline, which is building everything Web-related, from Web sites to applications. David is mainly in charge of Ping Media, and PingOnline is in the capable hands of Thomas.
Ping Media and PingOnline are now residing in a gorgeous historical mansion in the heart of the Amersfoort city center. They simply could not have wished for a better home base to receive clients with name and fame. Representatives from the likes of Nationale Nederlanden, KLM, KPN and T-Mobile just take the bridge across the canal, pass through the garden and find themselves in these imposing premises.
This is where a twenty-member team is staffing two floors and where Web specialists, video experts, creative individuals and programmers are all mixing and interacting. Ping Media and PingOnline are not isolated islands but they enhance one another. Thomas: “It’s the combination that’s a winner. The technology that we master in the online branch we’re using for media productions. We can supply both the video content and the technology involved at the highest possible level.”
David and Thomas then give the finest example of such synergy: the Ping Video Platform (PingVP), what they like to call “YouTube for businesses.” This is their most successful product: a pioneering platform that facilitates interactive and personalized video. Big telecom and insurance companies, for example, both at home and abroad, are its grateful users.
“Smart video is our core business,” says David. “We don’t just turn out video output, you know, simply taking a couple of shots and pasting them into a video. We write scripts that persuade viewers to buy a product, or to understand it, as in instruction videos for configuring a wifi hotspot or for installing a product. Such videos improve customer satisfaction and cut costs because they save customers from having to contact the customer service desk.”
Smart video means interactive video, Thomas adds. “Viewers have the option of ordering a product directly from the video, by clicking on a button. What makes our videos truly sought after is that we provide them with a personal touch. We really know our viewers and we’ll make sure that a video message they receive from a company is 100 percent relevant. So if you order a telephone, you’ll be shown a video message saying how long it will take until delivery, where you can pick it up, etc. And this we can show real time.”
David: “This type of video production is really successful. It has the highest conversion rate and the highest customer satisfaction ratings. It’s all about you as a viewer. We don’t even have a sales department because this product is simply selling itself.”
Amersfoort as a launch pad
David is chuckling. “I remember when television people told me ten years ago: “Amersfoort as a launch pad? A non-starter.” Meanwhile, we’ve proved them wrong. We’re working for major Dutch companies; you name them: KPN, Aegon, Essent, Reed Elsevier, Robeco. Amersfoort has grown into a city with an excellent business climate. It’s super central, within easy distance of cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam, where most of our clients are. And we also like to invite our clients to Amersfoort. Wherever they’re from, they’re always amazed by the beauty of Amersfoort upon first acquaintance. That’s half the battle won, isn’t it?”
David: “There are plenty of young, creative and highly qualified people around in the Amersfoort region. Fortunately, most of our staff have followed us to Amersfoort and they’re perfectly content and happy here. They don’t feel the pressures of big city living but they have all the big city amenities within easy reach.”
Thomas: “I don’t think we’ll ever leave Amersfoort. We’d like to stay in these premises forever. The bridge in front is also a favorite spot of wedding photographers, incidentally.”
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