Zohar Dayan is the Co-Founder & CEO of Wibbitz, an automated video creation platform used by media companies like Reuters, Forbes, and CBSi. Dayan’s entrepreneurial drive led him to launch several startups at a young age before founding Wibbitz in 2011. His passion for news and advanced technology has helped pioneer the use of automation and AI in newsrooms across the country. Dayan was selected by Geektime as one of the “Top 5 Israeli Entrepreneurs” for 2013 and the 40-under-40 list for 2014 by TheMarker Magazine.
In this week’s “5 Questions,” Dayan discusses the challenges of A.I. in video creation, what inspired him to create a business where nearly 80% of the process is done by computers, and why video automation is a win for publishers.
VideoInk: What is the biggest challenge when it comes to automated video creation?
Zohar Dayan: Robots are not as good of storytellers as humans — yet. So technologies hardly ever entirely replace the job of content creators. To this point, perfecting our technology while maintaining the right balance between automation and human touch has always been a priority. If it requires ten steps to produce a video, our technology can handle the initial steps that involve information perception and cognition, including analyzing text-based information, identifying key messages, and fetching relevant media to match with the summarized storyline. The remaining steps require creativity, knowledge, and professional experience, so a human’s touch is necessary. As a video automation company, it can be a challenge to keep both in mind while developing our platform.
What inspired you to create Wibbitz? I’ve always been a news junkie and fan of technology, so I was excited about the accessibility to news provided by the first-generation iPhone. But it didn’t take long till I became frustrated by the small text and endless scrolling when attempting to read articles. I realized that video tells a story in a visual way and would be the perfect solution to consume news on mobile devices. In the past few years, the demand for video content has skyrocketed — 80% of the world’s internet traffic will be video by 2019. But video production requires a large investment of time and resources, and not all media companies have the capacity to develop a dedicated video team. That’s why I founded Wibbitz, to help automate the production process so content creators can focus on storytelling and leave technology to do the tedious work.
What is the incentive for advertisers and publishers who want to sell video ads? Why should they use a video automation platform like yours instead of having their own video/editing teams? As the younger, cord-cutting consumer base continues to grow, we have been witnessing a huge jump in digital video advertising investment. Advertisers find digital video ads are the most effective and engaging format to ensure ROI, which has encouraged publishers to ramp up production to meet the demand for quality video inventory. For media companies who are looking to achieve this goal, video automation is the best solution to quickly and easily meet these demands. We don’t see Wibbitz as a platform that replaces video editors’ jobs, but as a tool that can be leveraged in newsrooms to make editors’ lives easier. With the Wibbitz platform, a publisher’s in-house team can scale up their original video offering, instead of syndicating video content from third-party providers. This provides better user experience in order to develop a sustainable video monetization strategy.
Wibbitz is already being used by big name publishers like Fox Sports, Reuters, NY Daily News, and TMZ. With so many companies already using the platform, how do you ensure that videos do not become dull and generic? Our platform provides custom branding and flexible editing tools. All videos are customized for our publishing partners with their own logos, watermarks, color palettes, and video bumpers to align with their quality standards. With our ever-growing gallery of media and soundtracks, editors have the ability to add their own personal touch. We are also constantly updating our platform with new graphics, media, video formats like square and vertical, and transition packages (what we call — Themes) to make sure editors always have fresh options to choose from.
What is your revenue model? Do you charge the publishers per video, per month? We offer three options — a monthly package of videos, an ad revenue share agreement, or a combination of both. Every partnership is based on a publisher’s video strategy and production capacity, so we work with each of our partners to identify the best fit for them. We understand that up until now video has been a huge expense, so we aim to lower the barrier of entry to video for publishers of any size.