Remember Yahoo Screen? The video hub Yahoo had launched over two years ago, home to everything from an NFL game to Saturday Night Live clips or even the streaming of Community, shut down this January. A report by Variety stated that Yahoo’s ambitious initiative led to the company declaring a close to $42 million write-down late last year.
Even with several content creation and Over-The-Top (OTT) video services like hotstar, Spuul, Eros Now, BIGflix, YuppTV and now Netflix fast picking up in India, content monetisation is a big issue. Many of the OTT market players even state that both the advertising and subscription revenues aren’t very high.
It is therefore common for content owners and aggregators to now look at these non-TV platforms to generate reach and revenue.
Realising and looking at this shift in the market towards OTT and the focus on content monetisation, ex-Google and YouTube Partners employee Kavita Shenoy along with Anand Gopal started Voiro in Bengaluru in 2014. It is a revenue management solution built specifically to address the content monetisation space.
The team partners with publishers and provides them with solutions to make internal revenue operations and associated data management smooth and scalable. A technical producer at Google, Kavita got the opportunity to work on a 20 percent project at the YouTube Partner management team and was exposed to the state of the market at the time.
Explaining the scenario, 35-year-old Kavita says:
“When we were sitting and doing a whole bunch of activities on the advertising side, the content side too needed support, and was understaffed. I left Google wanting to work with YouTube Partners. Initially, I saw that premium partners of YouTube would get the much-needed support and understanding; but the SME businesses got information offline.”
She realised that a larger volume of people could benefit with face-to-face interactions on how to make more money and get more money on online videos through advertising and how to position themselves.
However, with time, she found that SMEs alone didn’t help her scale the business. The larger players had their goals set on creating their own online content platforms as an extension of their broadcast offering. Simultaneously 29-year-old Anand had returned from the US and was living next door to Kavita.
The duo got talking about starting something. With her experience, Kavita was keen on getting into revenue management for content publishers. Over many evening conversations, she was able to convince Anand to get on board and quit his job at Sabre Airline Solutions, where he was helping build analytics and operations research-based products for airlines around the world.
Anand has this secret list of people who he wants to hire — people he has met, studied or worked with, and that's how Anil Karat, who leads the technology team, was picked.
“Anil at the time was in Pondicherry and we literally pulled him to Bengaluru. The last member of the founding team is Jithin George, who came back from the US after his Masters and didn't want to join the larger tech firms. Jithin and Anil studied in school together and that brought him in to join us,” says Kavita.
They came up with the idea of creating a solution that would make it easy for a content publisher to manage their revenue opportunities because it was becoming clear that content would be screen-agnostic but device-aware.
The team now works towards helping publishers drive and execute their monetisation strategy. Voiro integrates with every part of a publisher's technology stack to drive inventory and pricing strategy optimisation.
According to a recent report by Cisco, by 2017, close to 70 percent of the world’s mobile internet traffic will be made of videos. Taking India’s context, the report suggests that the country’s video traffic will touch 1.8 exabytes per month by 2017, making up close to 66 percent of all IP traffic of that year.
Looking at these figures, the number of platforms that help companies generate revenues via video content comes as no surprise.
There is SelectMedia, that is believed to have over 650 premium direct sales across 55 countries. The platform is said to use their proprietary predictive trading and delivery technologies that use big data for optimal video yield and performance. Undertone, another platform, provides cross-screen solutions that help leverage mobile traffic.
Kavita adds that they are a SaaS-based solution that automates workflows, is flexible and offers intelligence based on a publisher's inventory, all in one single platform for an entire organisation.
The Voiro team claims to be revenue-driven and profitable from the very beginning. This year the team is headed towards closing $400,000 in annual revenues. Their YoY revenue growth since last year has been close to 300 percent.
The team works on a subscription-based model and also has a small advisory practice for publishers who are looking to take their monetisation strategy to the next level.
“Voiro's uniqueness stems from our plethora of ready integrations and quick adaptation to changing sales strategies and revenue possibilities, given the fact that publishers' sales strategies need to keep pace with a very dynamic ad tech industry and changing buyer needs,” says Kavita.
However, one of the biggest challenges the team faced while setting up and still continues to face is hiring good talent. Kavita says being a fledgling company it's tough to get good people who are buying into more than just a salary.
The cross section of relevant skills that they bring to the table, Kavita says, enables them to understand and address the content publisher market.
Speaking about their future plans, Kavita says, “Our vision is to be a singular technology partner that allows publishers to address continuously changing revenue possibilities in an easy, scalable manner. We’re looking at 2017 to expand to markets in Europe and South East Asia. We are looking at deep pricing analytics and optimisation in live content monetisation.”