One of the main things content providers can do to create rich user experiences is present contextualized content that relates to the underlying article or video. This is why so many content sites have "Read More," "You Might Also Enjoy" and "Also View" type sections. They help content providers increase users' time spent (which drives monetization), build loyalty and create competitive barriers.
As the library of video assets many content providers have has exploded, it has become virtually impossible for their editors to manually select contextual videos for a newly posted clip, and then subsequently keep them updated. What's required is an automated system that intelligently associates archived videos with new ones based on pre-set, customized rules. Importantly, the system has to be able to massively scale and work not only for on-demand video but for live video as well.
That is exactly what RAMP, a video technology and search provider, is releasing today, in its new "MetaQ" product. As RAMP CEO Tom Wilde demo'd for me yesterday, MetaQ presents an extensive range of filters and a point-and-click rules creation process that editors use in order to associate/trigger related videos - and other desired content, such as celebrity factoids, stock tickers, ads or transactional prompts. When applied, the rules create a highly robust user experience that feels dynamic because relevant, up-to-date content is constantly being added.
RAMP, which helps media companies optimize video discovery, has raised a $15 million Series C round, led by StarVest Partners, plus new investors Hearst Interactive Media and EDBI and including existing investors. With the financing, RAMP has raised $40 million to date. Funds are intended to pursue the enterprise market and also for international expansion.
Categories: Deals & Financings
At the NABShow last week, I interviewed RAMP's CEO Tom Wilde about why closed captioning is coming to online video as a result of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act from 2010. The Act specifies that any video broadcast on-air after April 30th must have closed captioning by September 30th if it's placed on the web.
Tom explains that given broadcasters' existing analog and digital work flows, creating closed captions for the web creates huge challenges, which RAMP's Media Cloud addresses. The good news is that research shows that closed captions give viewers more control and therefore are also more engaged, driving a higher ROI.
See video below (5 minutes, 19 seconds)
EveryZing is changing its name to RAMP, and positioning itself around "Content Optimization." Ordinarily a name change signals a change in strategic or product direction, but in this case, as CEO Tom Wilde explained to me last week, the re-naming is neither. The change to RAMP unifies the company name with its platform name (plus descriptive extensions), and completes the evolution of the company as a consumer destination originally named PodZinger.
I've been bullish on RAMP since my original post on the company in February '08, in which I detailed how RAMP married online video to the ubiquitous consumer search experience, addressing the chronic need for improved video discoverability. RAMP did this by using core technology to extract metadata for any type of video, audio, text and image and then organizing related content onto search engine-friendly topic pages that grouped related content.
RAMP has continued to build out its platform since then, unveiling its "chromeless" MetaPlayer in Oct '08 that creates "virtual clips" so users can navigate to just the scene they're looking for, while content providers can maintain their existing business rules. Then earlier this year RAMP released "MediaCloud," which moved the metadata extraction process into the cloud, giving content providers the ability to manage the metadata themselves and deeply integrate it into their workflow and larger content publishing activities.
As metadata has become recognized as the currency underpinning content discovery and monetization, RAMP has added large customers, such as NBCU (also its lead investor), FOX, Meredith Publishing and others. RAMP's capabilities to handle all media types (video, audio, text and images) has become increasingly important as content providers realize that mixing and matching different assets is now required to provide audiences with the best experience. For the most advanced publishers, the days of siloing off video or audio are in the past.
In its new white paper, RAMP articulates well the fundamental shifts happening in the media business: the move away from "containers" (e.g. a magazine, album or newspaper) into content "objects" that users find, share and self-organize online; the trend toward syndication, where brand success is more about proliferating content everywhere on the web than attracting users to a specific destination site; the opportunity for content providers to enhance their monetization through dynamic contextual targeting rather than by simply selling eyeballs. Addressing these and other elements effectively is what RAMP calls content optimization.
Many of the themes RAMP espouses align with what I've been describing for a while now as the "Syndicated Video Economy." I only see these themes accelerating in importance as the supply of video escalates, devices proliferate and social media grows. With its flexible, SaaS platform that integrates well into other 3rd party content management and publishing platforms, I expect RAMP will continue to succeed as content providers become more sophisticated about how to operate online.
What do you think? Post a comment now.