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Wibbitz livens up online news

Posted By Karin Kloosterman On October 14, 2012 @ 12:00 am In Internet | No Comments

Call us lazy, or overloaded with information and gadgets, but we aren’t reading news in long form like we once did. Yet with newer devices, the experience isn’t quite right. The text may be too small or too big, or not easy to click through. Avoiding embedded ads can be like walking through a minefield.

Helping publishers create alternative means of content for readers who want to access news in an enjoyable and smooth way is the Israel startup Wibbitz.

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Founded in 2010 with $3 million in financing to date — investors include lool Capital, Initial, Kima Ventures and Horizon Ventures — the nine-person company has built a video publishing platform that lets any publisher or owner of a website turn their content into a dynamic video with music, news feeds and a human-sounding narrator.

The video solution is great for grabbing eyeballs from Facebook shares, or as a new way to get readers to see your news. Wibbitz, which is based in Tel Aviv, not only plans to help publishers expose more of their content to a new audience, but to help their publisher partners make a lot more money.

Relying on advertising sales alone, online publishing is a tough business. According to Wibbitz co-founder Yotam Cohen, his solution can help publishers make multiples more in advertising.

“Today, publishers create premium content that sells only display advertising. We can take the content and convert it to video which sells 10 times more [in revenues] than display advertising,” he tells ISRAEL21c.

Instant video with snippet of code

Cohen explains that big publishing houses can connect to the Wibbitz platform and stream or embed their own advertising networks through the Wibbitz-generated video, while small or medium publishers will be able to tap into a future Wibbitz ad network, much in the way YouTube offers video publishers an opportunity to earn money from uploading videos.

The difference with Wibbitz is that the embedded ads will look a lot more in context with the content and will not necessarily include an opt-out button.

A publisher wishing to use Wibbitz video enters an email and a URL. From the URL, Wibbitz robots scan the site and within about 30 seconds will generate a video that explores the latest offerings of the site. To add the Wibbitz video onsite, publishers need to add a single line of JavaScript code.

Wibbitz is about to launch a version of the tool to create videos from individual pages or separate news items, making for a splashy and entertaining, laid-back news-reading experience.

Overall, it delivers what people want anyway: more content in an easier format.

“People are becoming more and more lazy,” says Cohen. “They want content brought to them. And video consumption is growing fast, as it’s an easier way to consume content for users who know the language.”

For layovers and waiting rooms

Consider airports or other transportation hubs that tune into one television station to provide the news. The Wibbitz platform can collate news articles from a variety of sources, providing a stream of news in a balanced manner. A human-sounding robotic voice reads the headlines and salient parts of the news or feature story while the Wibbitz algorithm scans the website for accompanying images and video. It can also include material from Creative Commons licenses from around the Web if images or video is lacking on the publisher’s site.

In the future, the company will work with third-party music-, image- and video-content holders to enrich the video experience even more. The Wibbitz conversion tool will also be more customizable, so that editors of video content will have some say over what the “robots” decide to put in the stream.

Thousands of publishers have already signed on, a few of whom are major media players in the United States, says Cohen, though he is not yet able to disclose their identities.

In a few months, Wibbitz will roll out its ad revenue plan so that sites able to use it for free today will be able to earn income as well.

“Our vision is to allow users to consume content in the Wibbitz way,” says Cohen. “And we do plan to keep it automatic, allowing for the large-scale creation of videos. Our algorithm is learning all the time, while we improve it by hand, too, so it gets better with accuracy and visuals.”

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