Epoxy unveils its social publishing platform for video creators, promises greater engagement across more platforms
As online video continues to challenge traditional television for audience attention and advertiser dollars, it’s becoming critical that content creators have sophisticated tools to manage and grow their online presence. This applies equally up and down the food chain from individual YouTube star and big brands alike, to studios and multi-channel networks.
Venice, California-based Epoxy is tackling this problem head on with a fresh take on YouTube creator tools. After nearly two years in development and private beta testing involving hundreds of channels, the company today peeled back the curtain on its platform. Epoxy is available as both a self-serve subscription offering targeting the long tail (beginning at $19.99 per month), and a custom-deployed enterprise option targeting online video whales.
“Epoxy is built on the idea that online video is first and foremost a social medium,” co-founder and CEO Juan Bruce tells Pando in an interview. The founder, who brings to Epoxy DNA from Team Downey, Continuum, and Ideo, explains, “After talking to the creative community, we realized that people are were spending more time on social media, engaging with their audiences across the various platforms, than they were actually making content. And it’s not enough to just have fans on one platform, but it’s more critical than ever to engage audiences across multiple platforms. This is very different than the process of making traditional Hollywood content.”
With this as the reality for most online video creators, Epoxy set out to create a platform that offers sophisticated tools around the three concepts of sharing, engagement, and understanding, according to Bruce.
“We wanted to make sure that our creators could distribute their content in a leveraged way to multiple platforms, while having access to directly actionable tools to identify and interact with their top influencers, and then interpret the data emerging from these interactions simply and quickly,” says co-founder and Chief Product Officer Jason Ahmad.
Epoxy is built to work with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as the hub of this online video social wheel, YouTube. The company has created custom social apps for each which integrate its proprietary player and result in a custom consumption experience for users. The company has seen engagement increase by up to 54 percent in early testing, according to Bruce.
For example, the Epoxy Facebook app creates a native version of a YouTube channel, complete with a channel playlist and a curated end-card carousel of suggested videos. Comments made within this player are published not to YouTube, but to Facebook’s Open Graph, meaning that friends are notified of relevant viewing and engagement activity (per Facebook’s Edge Rank algorithms). The experience works on both Web and mobile and supports multiple languages. Epoxy has created similar custom consumption experiences for both Twitter and Instagram.
Behind the scenes, Epoxy gives creators tools to effectively share and promote this content across multiple social platforms. One of its most unique features is the ability to take existing video content, such as, for example, a several-minute-long YouTube clip, and repurpose and reformat that content for publishing as an Instagram video. Epoxy created a workaround that then allows creators to email themselves these edited videos, save them to their mobile device camera roll, and then publish to Instagram, circumventing the company’s anti-spam-minded uploading restrictions – something the Instagram has apparently signed off on, according to Bruce.
Further, on both Twitter and Instagram, Epoxy allows creators to search for instances where their content is shared but does not include an @-mention or hashtag to alert the creator. Users of the platform can then engage with these shares in-line as well as rank the owners of these accounts according to their influence – a service for which another startup called SocialRank has recently found an eager market. Epoxy also supports multi-user and multi-channel accounts, functionality which will be key to gaining adoption in the agency and MCN categories.
“Our goal is to make sure that we can help channels in all of the important places where they have audience,” Bruce says. “We’re the people looking on behalf of the channels to see where they have audience and where they have the opportunity to build fans. This type of diversified approach is really required of modern media companies.”
Finally, Epoxy looks to boil down all this sharing and engagement into a very straightforward and actionable set of analytics – although it’s worth noting that both Bruce and Ahmad seem allergic to that word. Users get a graph of their day-over-day changes in engagement, a heatmap of engagement based on day and of publishing, and a map of hashtag usage and resulting engagement.
“We chose to stick to, what you’re posting, when you’re posting it, and how you’re tagging it – we think that’s enough,” Bruce says. “We are not reverting back to impenetrable charts and graphs, but instead delivering immediately actionable data.”
Epoxy previously announced $2 million in Seed funding from Upfront Ventures, Greycroft Partners, Advancit Capital, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, and individual angels in March 2013. But Bruce says that we should expect additional announcements on that front in the near future, seemingly suggesting that a subsequent round has already closed or will soon. The company has yet to charge any individual creators for access to the platform Bruce says, but has several upcoming announcements on enterprise front, suggesting that it may already be generating revenue.
Epoxy has come to market with a compelling early product experience and appears to be generating positive feedback from its early partners. That said, the YouTube tools and analytics space is a crowded one. Even granting that Epoxy's product is unique and arguably solves real problems facing the bulk of creators today, it's no guarantee that it will be able to get the product in front of enough potential customers and then convince them to pay for access. By the same token, despite the growth in YouTube video consumption, plenty of people have questioned whether the Google-owned platform is a viable place to build a business – as opposed to simply building audience that will be monetized elsewhere. Whatever the motivation, Epoxy will need creators to remain engaged with YouTube and thus willing to purchase software products that support growing their audience there and on other social platforms.
With 1 billion unique users watching more 6 billion hours of YouTube video each month, and some 100 million new hours of video uploaded to the platform daily, the challenge of creators emerging from the noise to build audience engagement has never been greater. This is in addition to the competing online video platforms that many expected to see launched by the likes of Amazon, Yahoo, Hulu, Twitter, Facebook, and others. All told, this rapid audience and platform growth sounds like a pretty good recipe for the launch of a social video publishing platform.
“Frankly, we can’t wait to get this out of beta and into the hands of a much much wider audience," Ahmad says. "We'll see what we learn from there.”