With a market cap of over £540 million, Blinkx is one of the most valuable companies in online video, while at the same time being one of the most mysterious. While most people are aware of the video search engine, Blinkx has also been building out a diverse business that encompasses everything from content syndication right through to an SSP. Here, Suranga Chandratillake, founder and chief strategy officer at Blinkx, provides some insight into how the company is evolving.
Could you map out and explain the various components of the Blinkx business model?
Blinkx is a technology driven media company with unique and specific strengths in online video. We pioneered online video search, and connect people online with advertisers over professionally generated and relevantly placed content. We’ve partnered with thousands of Web publishers and video producers to aggregate audiences, deliver targeted opportunities and share monetisation. From a model standpoint, the whole of Blinkx is greater than the sum of its parts – we are a media platform. Partly created of video search engine, part publisher network, part publisher (through Blinkx.com and other owned-and-operated sites), part video distribution hub (through Blinkx VideoAdvantage) and part SSP.
How does a video search engine work? For example, do you have to have direct relationships with content providers, or can you index content in the same way Google does?
Our video search technology works in multiple ways. We work directly with the content partners to get their descriptive information as part of our video index. Then, utilising our CORE technology, which is the most advanced video search technology in the world, we analyse the video for additional metadata that can be extracted from audio streams, facial recognition, and other factors. We build these into our index, allowing us to draw unique insights into relevance and linking of different videos. This means that we can effectively place a video within the context of its environment, driving up monetisation opportunities.
You recently acquired Grab Media, a syndication company, and you recently launched VideoAdvantage, your own video syndication product. Could you explain what is attracting you to that side of the market?
Our strategy has grown to match the market opportunity, which has evolved from content search, to discovery and, finally, syndication. Initially, Blinkx leveraged its CORE technology to power video search on leading online properties, including AOL, Ask and Lycos – leveraging proprietary speech, text and image analysis to render highly relevant video search results in response to consumer queries. As the market opportunity shifted from search to discovery, Blinkx grew its business model to include a number of owned and operated websites, including Blinkx.com, to facilitate video discovery.
Currently, the company is focused on the enhanced opportunity afforded by video syndication, or the super distribution of video content across a virtually limitless universe of independent websites, scalable across all four screens – PC, smartphone, tablet and TV. Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable traversing between channels and devices and our recent launch of Blinkx VideoAdvantage and the Grab Media deal are evidence of responding to this change in behaviour with a seamless video solution.
How are you selling your inventory? Are you selling any programmatically?
We currently sell inventory direct and programmatically via exchanges. We have our own SSP that allows us to participate in the programmatic auction environment. Today, the volume sold by Blinkx programmatically outweighs direct sales.
Is there still a shortage of premium inventory in the market? How long do you think this will be the case?
The nature of content viewing is changing. As more and more people switch to watching video on laptops, mobile phones, and tablets — content providers will need to reach their audience and adjust the stranglehold that the MSOs currently have on premium content. At the same time, new categories of pure digital premium content are also emerging. Consumers are in control and demanding access to content across any device, and opportunities to interact and engage with what they are viewing in real time. It’s an exciting time.