The “next Google” gears up
What do you get when you take three former Google employees and give them more than $10 million in funding? Not surprisingly, the answer is a start-up company with ambitions of being bigger than Google for the next generation of Internet users. It’s called Ooyala, and its means of Internet domination is a platform for video delivery and advertising. The company just received $8.5 million in second-round funding, after being chosen last month as the Amazon Web Services Start-Up Challenge winner, receiving $100,000 in cash and services. According to the company, Ooyala--which means “cradle” in Telugu, a Southern Indian language--stands for what the determined start-up is doing – cradling a new form of innovation.
The innovation comes in the form of a “user-centric monetization model” in which consumers can click on people, places and objects in a video in order to search and monetize the metadata. Through its distribution platform dubbed Backlot, users can upload, manage, syndicate and track their content for a fifth of what traditional content management costs. CEO and co-founder Bismarck Lepe shared with Telephony’s Sarah Reedy what the founders learned from Google and how they are taking that knowledge to change the Internet landscape.
On what Google does right: Google taught us that machines are actually pretty good at targeting ads. On the ad-serving side, we're focusing on targeting the intersection of context and behavior for video ad placements. Unlike a lot of solutions that just try to place ads based on the contextual relevance of the ad to the audio stream, we actually try to get closer to the user and predict which ads will be relevant to the user.
On what Ooyala does better: We have focused on building a system that offers higher quality video, better analytics, choice around monetization and a simplified pricing and contract model. Everything about our system is meant to allow for all types of video producers to be able to push as much or as little video content across the Web.
On the technology that drives the platform: The video is encoded in multiple bit rates (from 200 kbps to 2 Mbps), and we adjust based on the viewer's end-user bandwidth and CPU-usage. We also load-balance across a network of traditional and homegrown [content delivery networks] in order to maximize quality and minimize cost.
On monetizing the user experience: We charge eight cents per hour of video viewed and an ad-serving fee for content providers who use us as an ad server as well. There is no charge for storage or encoding…Our philosophy around Backlot is similar to that of Google AdWords. We make Backlot available to all customers and offer a simple pay-per-use model. This allows us to scale our client base very quickly. For larger media companies, we offer a direct sales and support team, but in general, they could also manage their own accounts.
On why Ooyala needs no cradling: Technology aside, I think current players in the video space have helped educate the market on the importance of online video syndication and monetization. When we walk into a customer's office, we don't have to spend time telling them why they need to be online; we immediately jump into why they need to be online with us. This has obviously helped us, but it is not the main reason for our early success…[We want to] grow a successful video technology company and continue to deliver the best video experience to content providers, advertisers and video viewers across all video screens…Our goal is to build a great company that develops products and services that are loved by their users.
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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