Oovvuu’s hits WordPress for global reach

Stuart Corner

Australian startup Oovvuu, which uses AI to deliver context appropriate video content to accompany news stories, has been made a global technology partner by WordPress VIP, a move that will see its technology integrated into some of the world’s largest news websites.

Oovvuu uses proprietary machine learning technology to read news articles, watch videos and match them together, “to improve news reporting and generate billions in advertising dollars.”

Its customers and partners include the BBC, Reuters, The Associated Press, The Guardian and Seven West Media.

Ricky Sutton
Ricky Sutton (front) with Oovvuu cofounders Ross McCreath and Greg Moore

WordPress VIP provides web hosting, development and other services based on WordPress, the open source web publishing platform used by about two thirds of the world’s publishers.

Its media customers include News Corp, USA Today, the New York Post, PMC (publisher of 22 titles including Variety and Rolling Stone). It is a subsidiary of Automattic, the company behind WordPress.

Oovvuu founder and chief executive Ricky Sutton told InnovationAus the move would enable users of WordPress VIP to embed video in their content with a single click.

“We’re trying to help publishers enhance pages by giving them the video they need. Anybody using the WordPress VIP platform can now get access to video from about 100 providers and embed it in the page, literally in one click,” Mr Sutton said.

“Traditionally a publisher would either make the video themselves, which is very expensive and time consuming, or done a deal with a video provider.”

He said that publishers would generally have their own arrangements with advertisers to monetise their video, but Oovvuu offered ‘backfill advertising’ for those that did not have advertising to accompany a video.

WordPress VIP’s partnership with Oovvuu follows an announcement in June of WordPress plans to expand its technology partnership program to include new partners for machine learning, video syndication and customer journey mapping.

Technology partners “provide best-in-class solutions, with WordPress integrations developed and maintained based on best practices and guidance from the WordPress VIP team.”

WordPress VIP chief executive Nick Gernert said the company’s key criteria for technology partners were “clear product expertise and innovative go-to-market strategies,” and it looked for partners with “a proven track record of successful and forward thinking implementations of WordPress integration at scale.”

Oovvuu was founded in 2014 by Mr Sutton, the former head of video, new platforms and video-on-demand at Fairfax Media, Ross McCreath, ex-Southern Star and WIN Corp chief financial officer, and former Fairfax video staffer Greg Moore.

According to its website, the basis of its creation was its founders’ realisation of “four truths”:

  • A billion people watch news video every day, and they want more;
  • Publishers have the audience, but lack sufficient video to meet demand;
  • Broadcasters have the video, but lacked global, ubiquitous, instant distribution;
  • Advertisers want brand safe content, and engaged audiences, at scale.

Mr Sutton said video was set to play an increasingly important role in news reporting. “We track news consumption habits daily and it shows us the future of news-telling will be video-led, but given recent scandals, it’s unlikely that will be built by Facebook or Google.”

He told InnovationAus that today about 7 per cent of news articles come with video and generate about $US4.5 billion in advertising revenue. “For publishers like the New Daily [which uses Oovvuu] that fill rate rises from 7 per cent to nearly 50 or 60 per cent.”

Oovvuu says it “attracted attention from IBM Watson, Amazon and Intel before receiving A$10 million from Australian investors Cygnet Capital and CP Ventures.”

According to a case study published by IBM, Oovvuu used the Watson natural language understanding service to quickly launch an AI contextuality engine that intelligently embeds videos into articles in real time, based on each story’s nuances.

“Combining its proprietary algorithms with Watson, the company can achieve its vision of pairing a relevant video with every article published worldwide,” the case study said.

The case study also claims Oovvuu enables publishers to embed 500 videos every hour compared to 40 manually, achieve 35 times higher ad revenues and up to 90 per cent reduction in video production costs.

It says one “leading media site in South Africa” had achieved a 300 per cent increase in video views of breaking news.

Mr Sutton said Oovvuu had used Watson along with technologies from Amazon and others in its early days and learnt from these to build its own recommendation engine.

“Ours is based very much on journalism and contextually so we would like to think it’s a little bit smarter than the others in the market,” he said.

Oovvuu – a $10 million name

Oovvuu, says Mr Sutton, started life as Contentco and as “a small Australian company no-one had heard of” was having trouble securing funding. “We chose that name because we didn’t want to be too cool and sexy. It was completely the wrong decision.”

He consulted a friend in Silicon Valley who had sold his startup for $US600 million.“He told me I had to choose a name with two ‘Os’ in it that Silicon Valley would love, because all the successful companies in Silicon Valley — Google, Yahoo, Facebook — have names with two ‘Os’ in them.

“So we searched GoDaddy for domain names with two ‘Os’, found Oovvuu, bought it for $90 and we were funded within three months.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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