comScore released its November, 2012 ranking of the top 10 U.S. video properties yesterday and News Distribution Network (NDN) spiked to the number 2 position, with 55.7 million unique viewers, surpassed only by YouTube, the perennial 800-pound gorilla.
NDN has burst onto the online video scene over the past 8 months moving from the 10 position in April '12, with 27 million views, then dropping out of the top 10 in May and June, followed by 5 months of blistering growth, surging from the number 8 position in July, with 35.1 million viewers to the number 2 position in November. I recently caught up with Kevin Gentzel, NDN's chief revenue officer, who was previously publisher of Forbes, to learn more about the company's success.
It won't come as any surprise to VideoNuze readers who have read my many posts this year on the importance of online video syndication to learn that NDN's business model is entirely focused on syndication. NDN's particular niche within syndication is with news clips that it aggregates from premium video providers and distributes to over 4,000 publishers in its network. A big milestone for NDN was becoming the AP's video publishing partner, essentially supplanting AP's prior initiative to build its own video publishing and distribution business.
NDN's success is textbook "syndicated video economy" - helping content providers distribute high-quality video to a diversity of publishers (rather than solely to their own destinations), monetizing those views with advertising and sharing revenue with both the content provider and the publisher, and contextualizing text stories with high-impact video. Kevin said that a key value proposition for content providers is NDN's software-as-a-service (SaaS) approach, which eliminates traditional online video publishing system license fees.
NDN has also focused on working with local media to help them distribute compelling video beyond their traditional print-centric geographic area. Another key focus is providing advertisers a brand-safe environment of premium content, where they can specify the types of content and sites that they do and don't want to be associated with (e.g. a financial services company ad not appearing adjacent to a story on Occupy Wall Street).
Kevin explains that his work at Forbes with numerous chief marketing officers exposed him to the heightened prioritization they are now placing on online video. Many of these CMOs now view online video as mission critical, given shifting of audiences, the proliferation of devices and the ability to breakthrough creatively beyond 30-second ads. Similarly, Kevin notes that video content providers can now quickly sell out their own video inventory and so NDN's ability to expand their reach helps drive new ad inventory and revenue.
NDN is on a hiring spree, adding sellers in various top markets around the world. Kevin noted that the significant tailwinds behind online video - and syndication in particular - are creating a strong climate of growth. I have been a bit of a broken record on syndication's growing appeal in 2012, but the success of players like Perform Sports, AOL, Grab Media and others which I've written about attest to syndication's strength. I expect this to continue in 2013 and NDN to be one of the prime beneficiaries.
Note: Beet.tv has a good interview with Kevin below: