A Well Done Online Surveillance Store

Recently, I was checking who was advertising on google for the term 'video surveillance' to see what companies / sites paid the premium ($4+ per click) to be displayed on the first 3 top spots on google search results. All except for one were big companies - ranging from ADT to AT&T to Home Depot to Genetec. But one company surprised me:

Who is Backstreet? A 90s boy band?

Check our the homepage for Backstreet Surveillance.

The products are obviously nothing special, indeed the pricing is way above average for online stores.

What impressed me is:

  • Well produced video starts immediately with a calm, informative sales pitch.
  • The series of videos continues explaining different points / aspects of surveillance.
  • The home page is clearly laid out with only a few sections to choose from.
  • They prominently display their reviews which are very strong. Warning: I have no idea if they are legit, I am just talking about layout.
  • They also include a 'beginner's guide to surveillance' which for someone stumbling on from google is pretty good.

According to archive.org, the site launched in mid 2012, so it is not even 2 years old. It is registered to Zephyr Media Group, which seems to be a small marketing agency.

I can imagine if I am a consumer who knows nothing about video surveillance, search on google, this would be a fairly appealing site. And it better be, because at $4+ per click, they need to close a fair amount of business to cover the advertising cost.

What do you think?

For me, any site that auto-plays a video gets an F.

I simply do not listen for effectiveness until I have situated myself, gathered context, and am ready to listen.

An auto playing video just adds noise and is like a greaseball salesman thrusting his hand out for a handshake before you've made it in the front door.

It must be effective for some, though, because so many sites use it...

I am sure quite a lot of people do not like it but...

Let's imagine the opposite scenario. The video needs to be user triggered to start playing. In that scenario, what percentage of users watch the video? 20%, 30% maybe. (I am comparing to IPVM video playback rates, plus assuming that the large / central position of video will deliver far more clicks)

However, by auto starting it, they get 100% to play. Now maybe 20%, 30% are annoyed and go away but the net / net is likely that a lot more people watch it than if one had to click play.

Beyond that, it's a good sales pitch. Open with pain point immediately, calm delivery, shows real examples in less than 30 seconds, etc.

Here it is (non auto-started):

Agreed. I can't stand auto-play videos.

John I agree wire your impression of the site! I also found the video well done, easy going, informative, doesn't make you want to close the page, rather make you check out the rest of the site for more info.

Alberto, thanks. It reminds of people talking about a '1 minute elevator pitch' to give to someone new. That video, at 47 seconds, is a tight, good one for our business.

The Zephyr Media Group is a direct-to-consumer agency that specializes in impulse buying. From their main page:

"Digital and Social Media formats are second nature at Zepher. Why? These emerging media forms are ideal spontaneous, transaction-based vehicles for marketers selling products and services in hopes of a quick or impulse purchase. The Internet, smartphones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn and other new forms of information."

They do lots of infomercials, so we should expect them to be able to knock out a 47 sec video. :) I agree with all above... this is a well-produced piece.

I suspect that the $4/click move is to spur quick growth on launch. I would doubt their budget would allow for this type of campaign for too long. I don't expect to see any Superbowl ads.

However if, as John suspects above, they are targeting the unwashed masses via common Google search phrases, then I agree it will most likely work to convert a percentage of those clicks to sales.

*Note* - That is my second use of the term 'unwashed masses' in less than a month so I have to retire it's use for at least the next six.

Regarding the 'unwashed' masses, I thought you were a man of the people, a champion of the Holiday Inn, a diner at Cracker Barrels large and small....

You say:

"I suspect that the $4/click move is to spur quick growth on launch."

I actually think it is transactional. Look at their sales prices, they sell mostly kits for thousands of dollars. It would not surprise me if their average sale was $1,000 or $2,000. Plus they have good markups. I think we would all agree the tech specs appear to be your standard Asian kit offering, marked up a few hundred percent.

Let's say you pay $4/click, could you afford to close only 4% of those clicks and still make money? 4% is 1 out of 25. Each click is $4, that means it costs $100 to acquire each customer.

$100 ad spend for each $1,000 to $2,000 sales seems feasible to me. Even if it was $200, there seems to be enough margin to make this viable.

Yes/no? Any online retailer willing to take a guess?

I don't know specifics about web advertising spending, but your equation does not sound off... if that is all there is to that equation.

But if that is the case, why aren't more doing it? Online surveillance quickiemarts aren't new of course... this is just one with their own ad agency. :)

Sidebar: Wonder who the ad agency's customer 'Back-Street' really is?

*by that, I mean a large distributor or some such entity, possibly trying a new (and in addition to their existing) channel?

Note: I am a champion of the people, but I do not eat at Cracker Barrels

"why aren't more doing it? Online surveillance quickiemarts aren't new of course... this is just one with their own ad agency. :)"

I suspect it's because you need to be really good at it, because when you are paying $4+ click, optimizing conversation is very hard. That's why an online ad agency might do better than a traditional security sales guy, tech type, etc.

I stumbled across this website a long time ago (must have been when they first started out). It has changed a little but not much.

I see they have an installation service which requires the installer to show proof of their license before becoming an authorized backstreet installer. I give them credit for that.

Oops, not a license but a reseller certificate. sigh.

Does anyone know who they are OEMing their equipment from? e.g., HD SDI kit



I am blown away by their google advertising budget. I noticed this company as well not too long ago. They just came out of nowhere. I wonder if they are getting a positive ROI on their Google Advertisiing. I am also thinking like another poster that maybe they are doing it short term for a quick boost in business. I cant imagine actually profiting per click when its all said and done.

"I cant imagine actually profiting per click when its all said and done."

Any guess on the actual numbers? Conversion rate? etc.

By my rough calculation, if they convert 2% of click throughs, that's $200 per sale. Given that they sell more expensive kits, i think they could cover that cost.

In my opinion the campaign is most likely a profitable endevour, partly based upon the length of time they have been running their campaign which says to me it must be profitable or they have a lot of OPM (other peoples money) to test out the theory.

Here are some estimations of marketing spend and stats from spyfu (one of the leaders in search marketing intelligence) into the ad campaign...


Here is the data from SEM Rush (another search marketing intelligence company)


Remember just because you think they are spending $4/click doesn't mean that is what they are paying and that's because and I'll use the $4 example and call it MSRP. You have to understand Big "G" uses several different evaluation processes to calculate cost per click, a big one is called "quality score" and Quality Score takes into account a combination of:

Keyword relevance - How closely related your keywords are to one another.
Ad text relevance - How closely your ad text relates to the queries you're bidding on.
Landing page relevance - How similar the page you send visitors to is to their search and your ad text.
Click-through rate (CTR) - How often people click on your ads.

I looked at their html code and see they are also using a technique called remarketing or retargeting... that means to me these are serious marketers and their ads will now start showing up on most of the webpages you visit that have adsense ads on them. Remarketing is like drip marketing you'll start seeing a lot more of backstreet surveillance on your web travels.

Hope that sheds some light on the subject.

check out this link. good rebuttal by the principals of the business to a bad review:

Paul, thanks for sharing! Very interesting back and forth.

One thing I agree, in general, is that Backsteet is misleading when they say in the video, "ultra high definition is the only way to go and the only equipment we offer." However, they sell a full line of 700TVL analog kits, though I suppose they are claiming these meet the 'ultra high definition' standard, which most of us would disagree with.

The other part of the complaint I think is fair is the pricing. Their pricing is a lot higher than comparable Amazon gear. What you are paying here is for the 'convenience' / simplicity of finding a well done site but that's a high price compared to a little knowledge and buying a QSee kit from newegg, etc.

Hi All,

The part of the video showing the comparison between D1 and HD SDI is from a UK distributor Cop Security. You can see the original comparison in full here.

This is the link/video on Backstreet’s site.

Cop appears to have a US dealer.


Jim, thanks. Good eye.

Now, who does Cop Security OEM from? ;)

Cop Security uses IRLAB of Taiwan for its cameras. The ones that Backstreet uses are NOT from IRLAB. I think they just used the video clip from Cop, with or without permission I don’t know!

The DVR’s Backstreet use are Dahua, isn’t that the same manufacturer that QSEE uses?

I believe the manufacturer is TopCam

The owner of this company used to own EZwatch which he sold in 2009-ish. Went on a brief hiatus selling a GoPro knock off, SportsVu. Once the NDA time cleared he opened Backstreet Surveillance. They are very good at marketing and their website offers easy to design systems. If you compare the sites they are similar.