Earlier today I got to speak with two people working on a video-centric startup that isn’t trying to become the fabled “Instagram of video.” Instead, the company, Vidyard, is building a video platform and analytics solution for businesses that want to get a little bit more bang for their cinematographic buck.
Vidyard, a Y Combinator alumnus, is announcing today that its platform now handles more than 1 million videos viewed every day, and that it has hired Mitch Solway (who formerly worked at Freshbooks and other startups) as its vice president of marketing to continue expanding. According to the company’s release, it is working with Ernst & Young, Unbounce, and Rap Genius (which recently raised $15 million) to help each company make the switch from other video platforms, like YouTube and Vimeo (which is also doing interesting things with video).
Self-described as a “YouTube for businesses,” Vidyard offers a number of features that CEO Michael Litt says are missing from other platforms (see: YouTube and Vimeo) that businesses may want to take advantage of. These features include the company’s integrated analytics platform, the lack of branding on its HTML5 and Flash-based video player, and the ability to add “call to action” items at the end of a video.
While other platforms offer analytics, Vidyard is working to increase the amount of data gleaned from each user. The company lets its customers know when viewers stopped watching a video, what operating system they used to watch the video, and, naturally, the number of people that clicked on the thing on the first place. Litt says that the company is working to improve its analytics platform with new features that can tell customers when a customer stopped paying attention – say, by switching tabs while a video is playing – and the effect that posting a video at a different time of day can have on engagement.
Getting more viewers – and turning those viewers into customers – is the core of Vidyard. Businesses don’t make videos (just) for the pageviews, and they expect that there will be some return on investment. Vidyard caters to this need with the “call to action” items that appear at the end of a video.
“If someone makes it to the end of a video, and we know that very few people actually do, they should be rewarded,” Litt says. Instead of cutting to black, Vidyard users can ask users to fill out a form, provide links to more information, or make their videos more interactive. Though watching videos is often a passive activity, businesses create content to gain or engage active customers – Vidyard wants to help bridge that gap.
Part of that process means keeping users on the businesses’ page. “The problem with YouTube,” Litt says, “is that it’s a YouTube-branded player, and there are a lot of outbound links to [other YouTube videos.]” YouTube being the wonderful, horrible place that it is, losing a viewer to outbound links isn’t going to help a business keep the attention of its viewers (and potential customers).
Not that Litt thinks YouTube is to be ignored. Vidyard actually integrates with YouTube to support cross-posting between the services, allowing businesses to present their videos to YouTube’s audience in one area while keeping viewers locked into their site by using Vidyard. Funnily enough, by working with YouTube instead of denying its existence or insisting that users make a wholesale switch from the service, Vidyard may be able to gain more customers and continue building its “YouTube for business” reputation.
[Illustration be Hallie Bateman]