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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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Analysis for 'SundaySky'

  • SundaySky - AOL StudioNow Partnership is a Great Example of Video Innovation

    A partnership announced yesterday between SundaySky and StudioNow is another great example of how video is being used to innovate traditional ways of doing business. For those not familiar with either company, SundaySky's technology platform, which I last wrote about here, creates real-time, personalized videos at scale using templates and data feeds, and StudioNow (which is part of AOL's Advertising.com division) offers distributed video production and syndication services.

    The partnership creates a new sales channel for SundaySky, while enhancing the range of services StudioNow can offer its clients. As SundaySky's president and CRO Jim Disco explained to me yesterday, the exciting part is how SundaySky's technology is being innovatively applied and the new value it creates for customers like real estate service provider ListingBook, which was also announced yesterday.

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  • April '09 Recap - Innovation is Alive and Well in the Broadband Video Space

    Looking over last month's posts with an eye for 2-3 themes to extract for my recap post today, I was instead struck by one overarching theme: innovation is alive and well in the broadband video space. Other sectors of the economy may have ground to a halt in the current recession, but whether it's new technologies, new service models or new approaches by traditional media companies, the pace of innovation in all things related to broadband video seems only to be accelerating.

    Here are some of the examples from last month's posts:

    New technologies

    • SundaySky - a new approach to dynamically generate videos out of web site content
    • HD Cloud - cloud-based encoding and transcoding plus 3rd party syndication
    • Market7 - web-based platform for collaboratively creating and producing video
    • FreeWheel - ad management/distribution company raises another $12M

    New service models

    • Sezmi - next-gen video service provider aiming to replace cable/satellite/telco
    • TurnHere - distributed video production services for the corporate market
    • Babelgum - premium-quality content destination for independent producers
    • YuMe Mindshare iGRP - new measurement unit to compare on-air and online ad performance
    • YouTube-Disney - short-form promotional deal

    New approaches by traditional media companies

    Now granted I have an eye out for broadband innovations so this list is somewhat self-serving. But remember that for every item above I was probably pitched on 2-3 others that I didn't write about due to time limitations. Some of these other items may have been picked up by other news outlets and captured in the news aggregation side of VideoNuze, while plenty of them likely received little attention.

    My point is that throughout the whole broadband video ecosystem there is a vibrant sense of entrepreneurialism that is slowly but surely remaking the traditional video landscape. To be sure, not all of this stuff is going to work out; either business models will be faulty, technologies won't deliver as promised or consumers will reject what they're being offered. Nonetheless, from my vantage point, the wheels of innovation continue to spin faster. That makes it a very exciting time to be part of the industry.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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  • SundaySky Enables Unlimited Customized Videos from Web Site Content

    An occupational hazard of following the online video space as closely as I do is that it's rare when I see a technology that feels truly breakthrough. So when it happens, it's not only an "aha!" moment, but also a tangible reminder of how much running room the online video industry still has ahead of it. These were my reactions when SundaySky's CTO and founder, Yaniv Axen, showed me a private demo of the company's "DynamicVideo" platform and explained its model to me.

    In a nutshell, DynamicVideo integrates with a web site's database or content management system, and then upon a user's request, it creates short videos out of specified pieces of web site content, completely on the fly. Yaniv explained that DynamicVideo does for building on-the-fly videos what ASP or JSP does for creating dynamic web pages. All of the generated videos are completely customized based on the specific pieces of site content being assembled.

    The process of implementing DynamicVideo starts with an upfront creative step in which SundaySky works with the site's team to create "Videolet" templates. This step includes generating all the creative elements (graphics, voiceovers, music, etc.) that would conceivably be needed in any of the videos to be created, along with the shell templates for the videos. When a user request a video, what's happening is that the required content is pulled from the site's database/CMS, matched against the corresponding creative elements and assembled into the correct shell template. All of this happens instantaneously and the video begins playing as quickly as you'd expect a web page to load. SundaySky also provides full analytics so it's easy to test and optimize different pieces of the video.

    All of that may feel a bit abstract for some of you. Yaniv showed me several different mock implementations (though the company isn't ready to show any publicly, Yaniv did supply this example of an Israeli ecommerce site, which really just scratches the surface). One of the mockups was for Expedia. Imagine clicking on a suggested hotel and instead of (or in addition to) scanning the page for the hotel's number of stars, proximity to attractions, pictures, reviews, rates and contact info, a 1+ minute video instead presented it all to you. I believe the video brings the hotel to life far better than even the best-designed page can.

    The mockups showed a broad range of potential applications: MyYahoo (personalized video summary of recent updates), CNET (product comparisons), YellowPages search results (vendor profile information), MySpace (social media presentation) and NBA.com (6 degrees of separation game). Basically, any content that can be extracted from a database/CMS becomes fodder for a video, tailored to the site's particular goals.

    What's most compelling to me about SundaySky are the financial implications for content providers. Implementing DynamicVideo allows site owners to generate not just a ton of new and highly targetable videos and but also a ton of associated ad inventory (the idea of a "this video brought to you by" brand slate is a natural). Site owners can also deliver a totally new consumer experience that helps them meet users' increasing expectations for video. This can only help drive higher engagement and desired actions.

    And last but not least, by providing a low-cost and automated "manufacturing" process for creating an unlimited number of videos, SundaySky completely changes the video business case, thereby enabling more sites to profitably embrace the online video medium. As I wrote recently in "Inside Demand Media's Content Factory," sites that learn how to crank out large volumes of high-quality video will have real competitive advantages in the broadband era.

    On the heels of an $8M first round it raised in January, SundaySky is just starting to share more details. Yaniv alluded to a couple of big media deals coming soon. But, for competitive reasons, it's still keeping things very close to the vest. If its platform scales as well as the demos suggest, this is going to be a very interesting company to watch.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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