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Start Me Up: invideous.comThe next startup we're profiling is London-based invideous.com, a video technology company that aggregates third party video content for consumers while simultaneously providing a monetisation platform for publishers.

If you run a B2C startup and fancy a 'Start Me Up!' profile then email editor@econsultancy.com.

What is invideous?
Invideous is a plugin which online publishers can add to their existing video player package in order to charge for content. The plugin also delivers in-video direct marketing ads linking to vendors of items featured in the video.

What problem does invideous solve?
Invideous enables publishers to quickly and easily charge for their content, either on a pay-per-minute, pay-per-view or subscription basis. Users create one account with invideous which can be used to pay for content on any participating third party sites. Users can top up by credit card, premium phone call and SMS meaning it's quick and easy to add funds and spend them on video content or in-video items. Everything takes place 'in-player' meaning that a publisher doesn't have to change their page layout, and viewers don't have to leave the video they were watching.

When and why did you launch it?
We launch officially on Tuesday 1 June following several months of BETA testing. The time is right for publishers to use more innovative models to earn from their video content, and for advertisers to exploit the promise of video in a performance driven manner.

Who is your target audience?
We have a twin focus on video publishers who want to charge for content (launch version supports JW Player and Brightcove OVPs) and video consumers who want to view premium video content across a raft of publishers.

What are your ultimate goals?

Our ultimate goals are pretty ambitious. Firstly, we want to be the wallet of choice for cross-site, cross-player online video consumption. No-one else that we're aware of is doing this at the moment, so provided we keep on top of our product development and continue to hone the user experience, we've got a good run at emerging as a leader.

Secondly, and as a longer term proposition, we hope to be the default control panel for a user's in-video experience. Many aspects of the internet can be customised, and the user is empowered to define their experience; the invideous controls extend this user choice to the in-video experience. For publishers who enable the feature, users can already control whether they see any video ads, paying a small fee if they don't want to.

Next step on this journey - a feature currently in live testing - is one which allows a viewer to set their default e-commerce provider for certain in-video items. For example, if you always buy electricals from Amazon, you can set to see Amazon as a default ad / link provider rather than play.com. This should do wonders for conversion rates.

Ultimately, we want to become an integral part to a viewer's video experience by making it better and more personalised.

What were the biggest challenges involved in building invideous?

Not having much money! We self-funded (for a year and a half) until two months ago which was tough, not only because of the stresses of bootstrapping, but because we had to undertake projects to satisfy short-term cash requirements which deflected us a little from the bigger picture.

Having said this, having to watch the pennies has been a great discipline and also means that we've been very commercially focused. I think this is reflected in the product; we're interested in how it can make us and our clients money. It's as mercenary as that.

How will the company make money?
We make money on a revenue share basis with publishers on both the payments and in-video ad product lines. We will also be using both products from a publisher's perspective, essentially 'eating our own dog food'. Not only do we expect this to be lucrative, but it means we're properly using the platform from a client's perspective which has already done wonders for continuing product development.

What is your pricing model?
Ads are generally sold on a PPC basis in a similar manner to Google paid search campaigns. It's up to publishers how much they charge for their content. This can be on a subscription, pay-per-view or pay-per-minute basis. 

We are confident that publishers will also enjoy experimenting with our 'no video ads' option. This lets publishers set a small fee that viewers can pay NOT to see ads. Not only does this give viewers their choice of user experience, it lets publishers ramp up their video ad load considerably to those who want to watch for free still!

Who is in the team and what does it look like?
The team is led by co-founders Jack Thorogood and Colin Phillips, both of whom have been working in the online interactive video space for a number of years.  There are 5 other team members in total, mainly on the technical side. We are based in central London.

Where would you like to be in one, three and five years time?
In one year's time we'd like to have built a good amount of buzz around the product offering and have a number of publishers benefiting from the service on an international basis; perhaps 500k to 1m consumer users with active invideous.com accounts.

In three year's time we hope to have removed the need for viewers to click away from a video player to buy almost any item, but particularly items in the consumer goods space.  These should be available within the player window, and the purchase price should be being deducted from a user's invideous wallet.

In five years time, we plan to be on a beach somewhere.

Chris Lake

Published 28 May, 2010 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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