Making money on online video is no easy task. Especially when you hand the content reigns over to users.
After all, user-fueled YouTube is said to be hemmereging money while a smaller high-quality video site like Hulu is suspected to be nearly profitable.
Bethlehem-based Viddler thinks it can have the best of both worlds with the launch of a new way of serving advertising. The new feature will help clients place orders across multiple high-quality video properties like Philly’s own Joystiq or Winelibrary.tv.
We sat down with Viddler President Robert Sandie to ask him about his days as a football player, his company’s new ad strategy and whether Viddler is in the black.As always, edited for clarity and length.
What is Viddler’s new ad program?
Not all content is amazing advertise-able content. Only specific things are attractive to advertisers. We’re kind of selective with who is using the partner program.
When we talk to advertisers, they get excited about the fact that this is higher quality, it’s pre-screened, and that content is being released with an audience that’s [already] connecting with that brand and they can participate with that audience.
So what you are doing is sectioning off your premium, ad-friendly content, and offering an easy directory for people to place buys?
Yes, very well said.
I’m just trying to wrap this around my small liberal-arts-major brain.
I tend to talk too geeky [laughs].
What’s the planned roll out, I saw on Twitter you said this was a soft launch, so do you have a publicity plan?
We are beta testing advertisers and getting feedback. We are looking to turn this into much more of a bigger product so you can choose entire categories … starting with our content partners and then moving to business services.
So these ad buys span across multiple shows and channels, is that something that wasn’t available?
We didn’t make it self-service, we had a media kit and it was a very formal process. Right now, it’s probably halfway self-service, but you’ll eventually be able to make the complete buy on this portal without talking to anyone. Much like Facebook ads, you don’t have to talk to anyone. You just go in and you purchase them.
Its directly addressing these $100 to $1000 budgets, because ad agencies aren’t touching anything under $20,000 to $30,000.
So the real breakthrough is the automation?
Yeah, everything will be completely automated, and the results are on the dashboard. Right now, we have to manually export reports and [deliver them] every month to the advertiser. It shouldn’t be like that, you should be able to log in to your dashboard and see how you are doing daily, or even by the hour. There’s some exciting things there as far as making advertisers see where their impressions are going, and it’s taking a lot of the friction out of ad serving, which is a very tedious process.
Is Viddler in the black as a company, is it profitable?
We are very close right now. We are closer than we have ever been, and we should be very soon. I can’t really give more information than that.
Is it something you could put any sort of timetable on?
I’m just gonna say “soon.”
I was reading about your personal history — that you played football for Lehigh University while majoring in computer science. What was it like being the “jock” and the computer guy? Was that ever a strange juxtaposition?
I’ve always been a unique case on the football team. I kind of was, in high school, always trying to do both. I was hanging out with the computer science club during the day and then going out and pancake blocking someone after school…. The best thing that happened to me in college, after football, was when I found my calling with the geeky stuff.
I found Flash … I turned into “Supernerd” and I was up until three or four every morning until I fell asleep on my keyboard…. Eventually, I ended up with a Flash job in San Francisco. When I came home, I felt I had enough knowledge and I said “Let’s bet the farm on this.” And here we are.
Why are you in still in Philly, what keeps you in Bethlehem?
When we started, to be honest, there were budgetary reasons why we couldn’t go to San Francisco, even though every investor told us that’s where we needed to be. So we stuck to the area and felt right at home.
We have been able to find tremendous talent here for half the price of San Francisco, and it’s an environment that doesn’t lend itself to hype. We are not in an area where everyone is rubbing each other’s backs going “You’re the greatest. No, you’re the greatest. No, YOU’RE the greatest.”
There are not a lot of tech things blowing up or that are over-hyped, it makes you very self-aware of where you are as a company. To me, that’s very valuable.
What makes you Technically Philly?
Being a part of Philly, we are constantly overshadowed from New York City and San Francisco. When, in fact, it is an amazing city with a lot of technical talent. It’s similar to Viddler. You know, Viddler is overshadowed by some huge players, like YouTube.
Yet, we have a pretty good product, and a lot better offerings a lot of the times. We are demanding respect, and there’s a movement and moment with Philly and Viddler to make this city known.
Every Friday, Technically Philly brings an interview with a leader or innovator in Philadelphia’s technology community. See others here.
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