If you’re tired of watching video after video online, only to realize halfway through that it is not what you were looking for, then an Israeli company called Taboola may be just what you’ve been looking for. After three years in development, including one year of limited release with selected partners, Taboola announced on November 18 the official launch of its ViDiscovery, Taboola Analytics, and DiscoverAd offering--as well as $4.5 million in second round funding, led by Evergreen Venture Partners.
Taking its name from "tabula rasa," Latin for "clean slate," Taboola launched with its first publisher in September of 2007, says VP business development and sales, Henit Vitos. "The pitch was hard but today everyone knows they need a video recommendation solution." Vitos says, "Search can be a good solution, but not always sufficient."
For instance, a search for the term "funny" may turn up a lot of videos, but as Vitos says, "What is funny to you may not be funny to me." Working with publishers, Taboola’s trio of tools analyzes professional and user-generated video content. It anonymously studies the viewing patterns and behavior of viewers in order to predict the best subsequent videos for the viewer to watch on the publisher’s website.
"Other recommendation solutions are out there in the world… Amazon uses it for ecommerce, Neflix uses it for DVDs," says Vitos, but the world of online video has been largely left out. "Every recommendation solution needs to be built with the data its dealing with in mind...ViDiscovery was built from the ground up to deal with videos."
ViDiscovery has a plug and play implementation process that requires no special integration or programming. Publishers simply insert a line of code within their player and website—Tabool takes care of the rest. ViDiscovery offers multiple forms of display to its clients, the R-Player and R-Box, and recommends that clients use both.
While a user is viewing content utilizing R-Player—a fully customizable flash layer within the publisher’s player—the viewers can choose to click on the ViDiscovery button or on the "related videos" ticker and bring up the recommendation list. The recommendation system is also presented at the end of the video or when the video stops, and prompts the viewer to continue watching more videos rather than leave the site. Video content using the R-Player can be embedded by outside users on their own sites and blogs, and recommendations will still appear. If users click on a recommended video, they will be brought back to the original publisher’s website, allowing for monetization of content, even off of the creator’s site.
R-Box works a bit differently. It is an HTML box on the publisher’s website that includes categories in separate tabs or in the same tab. Taboola says its solutions are all customizable to fit the publisher website’s look and feel. With Taboola Analytics and DiscoverAd also at work, ads are targeted to a viewer.
"We analyze the videos on the publishers in real time, analyze the user’s behavior…" says Vitos, using a "contextual algorithm." Vitos adds, "If you only watch 10 seconds out of three minutes of a video that means something to our algorithms." The more videos a user watches and interacts with, the more information that ViDiscovery collects on that user, making the recommendations more targeted as time goes on. This also allows for the ads shown to viewers to become more targeted.
Among its existing users like 5min.com, aniBoom, AsktheBuilder and Sclipo.com Taboola reports a 30-42% increase in the number of viewers who watched an entire video, 25-35% increase in the numbers of video views, and a 15% increase in distinct videos viewed.
Taboola has a big stake in whether or not its tools actually work to increase ad revenue, as it does not charge publishing partners for use of the patent-pending technology. Says Vitos: "Taboola does not charge our publishing customers for implementing our video recommendation solution. Instead, we share the revenue generated from ads that are presented through Taboola's DiscoverAd platform, which is the first video ad solution that enables publishers to run video and text ads as standalone units."
Thanks to recent funding infusion, Taboola is looking to keep growing its sales and marketing efforts as well as the development team. "Because we believe that our video discovery technology is the key value that we bring to the industry, we will continue to grow our development team in order to ensure that our technology can better address all of our publisher needs," says Vitos.