Video e-mail is an e-mail message with a video file either inserted in the body of the message or accessible through a hypertext link. These means of access circumvent the problems of sending messages with video attachments: video files are usually too large for most people to send or receive, and, in any case, most people are justifiably leery of opening e-mail attachments.
There are a number of different approaches to video e-mail. One application, Videogram Creator, allows the sender to a create a video message from previously recorded video data. The message is highly compressed into an HTML file that, at the receiving end, plays through a Java applet, and looks like a Web page when opened. VMdirect, a Las Vegas-based video e-mail company, takes a different approach. To use the VMdirect service, the sender records their message, which is then uploaded to the company's server. The recipient gets an e-mail message with a hyperlink to the file, which they can view online and download to save if they choose. Over the 2003-2004 holiday season, VMdirect donated $200,000 in services and equipment to 80 U.S. military bases so that the families of overseas personnel could send them video e-mails.
Video e-mails are increasingly used in direct e-mail marketing. Studio360, a media design and development company, compared the recipient responses to Java-based video and HTML messages used in a Holland America e-mail campaign, and found that the video messages achieved clickthrough rates 33% higher than the HTML version.