By Sahil Patel
To fully appreciate what Wochit does, you have to see its technology in action.
Wochit is described by its co-founder and current chief executive Dror Ginzberg as a “creation and monetization” platform for short-form video content. Now when it comes to online video that can mean a lot of things. Broadly speaking, YouTube is also a video creation and monetization platform.
What separates Wochit, though, is that it has the ability to take away all of the resource-intensive aspects of video creation and monetization. The service can do all of the work for you — from creation to distribution — with a few clicks. And often in 10 minutes or less.
“With brands and publishers, they have the same pain points when it comes to video — which is that the economics of entering or
incrementally scaling the video market are prohibitive,” says Keith McAllister, advisor and until recently launch CEO of Wochit. “It’s very labor, tech, and deal intensive — things that cost money and time. What we’re trying to do is disrupt the economics of video creation so publishers and brands can compete.”
To date, the service has been working at the enterprise level, helping major publishers and brands create timely, relevant video content.
For publishers, this often means news videos tied to articles they’ve published. Wochit can take an article published by, say, the Chicago Tribune (a client) and plug it into their service, which in a few minutes turns out a fully-produced piece of news video — complete with a custom voiceover, licensed professional photo and video content, and all of the graphics and effects you’re accustomed to seeing in news clips. Once approved by the client, Wochit then distributes the clip via a custom client-branded player or via a Wochit-branded player that’s syndicated to the likes of AOL and Yahoo.
For brands, “storytellers” in their own right when it comes to online video, Wochit works for them to create fully-branded clips tied to what’s happening at the moment. Again, all largely within 10 minutes, and without brands needing to move much of a muscle.
“Most of the highly-trafficked stories get most of their traffic in the first hour,” says Ginzberg. “So if you don’t have a video there, you have to monetize it with display ads.” What Wochit pitches is the ability for you, whether you’re a publisher or a brand, to get a well-produced video out there within that time frame. “If you can have a video as soon as a story goes out, that’s a great value.”
Wochit’s white-labeled capability allows clients to distribute branded clips. The company also distributes content under its own brand name. Here’s an example using the same video:
Now there are other automated solutions out there that can turn text into video. What separates Wochit from the robots is the human element, according to McAllister. “What [co-founders Ran and Dror] wanted to do was figure out the sweet spot between technology and the human touch,” says McAllister.
For Wochit, that means two points during the video-creation cycle in which actual humans get involved. One, there’s the moderator, who can exert as much control over the creation of the clip as he or she wants to. The second is the voiceover, which can be recorded by the user or via one of the “tens” of professional voiceover artists Wochit employs around the globe. Ginzberg says the company has made sure to hire talent with specialties across various disciplines, from straight news to more entertainment-oriented stories.
The finished product, according to McAllister, can compete with the best-quality short-form news content out there. If you watch any of the videos Wochit distributes on the web, you’ll agree. The clips would fit right at home as a segment on news and news-ish programs you find on TV.
“The idea with moderators is that we could potentially do everything, completely automated, and the output would be good,” says Ginzberg. “But if you want it to be great, you use a moderator.”
Wochit is currently doing 100–120 million views across all of its channels. Content is available in five different languages across the world, from the US to East Asia.
With this base reach in place, the company has now introduced a full self-service platform, which, as you’ll see, can turn anyone into a video creator — from the major media companies and brands that Wochit already works with, to smaller businesses and even individual video creators.
The self-service platform enables clients to become moderators themselves. Whatever Wochit can do, you can do. For instance:
- When clients log-in, they can access trending stories from their own publication or from across the web, or individually search for and grab an article from any URL.
- Once an article has been selected and ingested, the Wochit technology automatically scripts a voiceover text, which the moderator can then edit to his or her heart’s content.
- Again, moderators have the option to record a voiceover in-house, or send it out to one of Wochit’s hired talent.
- Wochit offers a library of licensed video and photos, which moderators can insert into their clip.
- If it’s a video, moderators can use the full clip, or choose a portion of the video to snip and include, or Wochit can tell you which section of the video is most relevant.
- Additional video-editing capabilities include the option to cut audio from the whole video, or just a portion.
- There’s access to other relevant media, including screenshots of webpages as well as Twitter pages for social media accounts.
- Once the media has been selected, and even before voiceover audio is available, moderators can edit the clip together via a text-based timeline.
These are just a handful of things moderators can do with the Wochit self-service platform. This is Wochit’s “secret sauce.” “If you want to put your own voice in it… if you want to have a little more control over the end result, put those two minutes in,” says Ginzberg, “and you don’t even need any video skills.”
With the introduction of the full-service platform, Wochit is also opening its arms to another potential client base: MCNs and YouTube creators.
“We think of Wochit as a creator platform,” says McAllister. Moderators are able to put their own content into the self-service platform. Where this could really come in handy, says McAllister, is in the field of non-fiction programming.
Imagine, if you will, Phil DeFranco is just starting out on YouTube. He probably doesn’t have access to the production resources that
he has today. But with Wochit, he could. “Wochit’s system is able to fetch content from professional databases. It’s able to create graphics and maps and do all of these other things dynamically that a TV studio would do,” says McAllister. “What we’re building is a place where all the future DeFrancos can come to us and we can provide this resource at a fraction of the time and cost.”
This extends to MCNs. “It is to everybody’s advantage that [MCN’s] contributors are successful,” continues McAllister. “The thing is, it’s probably not a good idea to build a TV studio for all of these creators — especially when they number in the 100s or thousands. If you’re trying to give your members the ability to create content, it just makes no economic sense for MCNs, which operate at a smaller scale than traditional networks and studios.”
So far, McAllister says Wochit has been working with several MCNs worldwide to introduce Wochit to their creator network.
Wochit monetizes in multiple ways. There’s the split of ad revenue on Wochit-created videos (in most cases, it’s a 50–50 split, according to Ginzberg). Then there’s the self-service platform, which is a combination of ad rev-share and a small production fee. On
the branded content (ads-as-content) front, Ginzberg hints at some “new models” that the company has been testing.
Overall though, it’s a fraction of what it would cost to do it the old-fashioned way.
It doesn’t take a genius to see how this could be valuable to publishers, brands, and independent creators. If one of the principles of platforms like YouTube and Vimeo is to democratize the news and entertainment businesses — allowing anyone to produce content, and as long as they’re talented, find an audience for it — then what Wochit is doing is the fully-realized version of that goal.
“If you were to have a site 10 years ago, you probably needed to know HTML and CSS, and how to install and host a server,” says Ginzberg. “Then came WordPress and Tumblr, which essentially said if you know how to write, then just write, you don’t need to take care of anything else. We believe we’re doing the same thing with video. You don’t need to know anything. We already did the licensing deals, we have great distribution, we completely do everything. You just have to be yourself and express your opinion.”