Thursday, April 20, 2006
Interview with David Hemingway, Vimation
David Hemingway is CEO and co-founder of Vimation (www.vimation.com), a company I ran into at OMMA that is developing technology for creating interactivity in Internet video. I was curious about what the company's technology is, how it markets itself, and how it fits into the industry, so I talked a bit with David about his company.
BK: Give me a little background on the company and what you do?
David Hemingway: We have been around for about 3 years, and pretty much have been talking about what we've been doing since the fall of last year. We spent the initial two and a half years in development. What we've developed is a proprietary online, interactive video solution that enables a consumer to interact directly with moving video. What that means is a user can click on a video, to, for example, get information about a piece of apparel in the video, or to buy it right through the module, or to click on a person, character, or place to get more information about that via another video. On the marketing side, which is where the real power of our offering is, all of the activity is measured on a real time basis. what that means is that from a marketing basis is we can dynamically pull content that is based on a user profile or user history to provide the most relevant content for the user and personalize the experience for each individual.
BK: This is more than just custom Flash programming and development, right?
DH: There are some other companies that are starting to look at ways to implement interactivity. We spend the last three years trying to get underneath the complexity of video, the original intent to put up video on the Internet and to be able to watch it was already underwhelming. Because it's okay on television to kick back in a chair and watch a video, but on the internet the expectation is to lean forward and interact with it. We needed to create interactivity, but beyond that we needed to create a solution where we could really move beyond just the interactivity to provide the relevant content and pay off the actionability we can offer on the front end.
BK: What does that back end look like?
DH: Our baseline is 30 different metrics, customized for whatever our customers want to do. It measures all the typical clickthroughs and that type of activity. But what we really try to focus on is the engagement of the user. Were they engaged, how many times were they back, what did they watch, and how long did they watch it. And to try to provide the marketer more than how many times something was clicked, but if the consumer was engaged and if it met their marketing or business objective.
BK: Do your clients have to build their video with your tool in mind, or can you take any video and adapt it to your tracking?
DH: We can take any video and enable the interactivity within that video. It works both ways. Some clients are using existing video, others are creating new video content. We don't actually shoot the video. We take the video from our clients to enable this solution.
BK: Who do you sell to and what's your target industry?
DH: Our target industry is really the publisher or content owner, as opposed to an advertising unit. It's really the web publishers looking to present video in a more compelling way, or to monetize the video on their site. There's range of clients. With broadband, video is much more acceptable and prevalent, and really the next step for the internet online. With entertainment, e-commerce, any time you have a client that is lifestyle type of client, lifestyle-type content. There's not really a specific niche.
BK: Is your offering a combination of services and product – describe the mix to me?
DH: I'll walk you through the process real quickly. We'll sit down with a client, and we'll walk through what their objective is. We'll obtain the video, and we'll put together the interactivity and how it happens with the video. We put that together and deliver a couple lines of code for their web site to put on and all the functionality is built into the module and reporting is built in.
BK: What's your advantage over web design agencies?
DH: The first thing is we're not a web design company. We're strictly focused on the video portion of it. We just need the real estate portion of the video area. The advantage for us is we've spent a really long time and learned the complexity of video. We really relate it to the transition of radio to the television. The first television shows were really just a camera of a radio show on TV. It really didn't take advantage of the capability of the television medium. We see that the Internet is in the same state. Typically what we see is that agencies and clients are just taking a 30 second commercial and putting it online and showing it. It's not taking advantage of the capability and intent of the Internet, which is to be interactive. You have to be able to interact with it. That's really what our offering is about, to engage the user and to provide a marketing tool to be able to provide the most relevant content and to measure it and accountable at the same time.
BK: What's your background and how is the company funded?
DH: The founders are myself and Peter Huh. My background is on the marketing/advertising side. Peter is on the IT consulting side. It's a nice match for the offering. We are self funded, and we've been around for two years. We're pretty much almost in the black, but we have enough operating capital to keep our operations for two years without any income.