Voxant to Launch News Video Distribution Network

Whether media brands will still matter as search engines and RSS feeds alter media consumption habits is debatable, but Voxant’s new video news distribution network aims to help content producers maintain brand integrity.

The Viral Syndication Network, expected to launch officially in beta in June, will distribute licensed news video clips, text articles, still images and video transcripts accompanied by pre-roll ads to any Web site or blog. To enable viral dissemination, the system enables any users to grab Voxant content from any site where it resides and upload it to their own sites.

The firm is launching its distribution platform on about 1,000 sites, many of which are local affiliates of broadcast partners like NPR and CBS. Other news content production partners include Reuters, MSNBC and Bloomberg. The company also has deals with distributors like LexisNexis, Associated Press and Thomson.

“We’re hoping for critical mass and our affiliate network to be built out” by the fall, Voxant CEO Jeffrey Crigler told ClickZ

Affiliates who want to add Voxant-distributed content to their sites as viewed in its “NewsCube” format, can search the company’s “NewsRoom” site, or grab it directly from distribution partners and other affiliates. Content creators can add a button alongside the clip inviting users to “Mash this story,” or grab it to put on their own sites.

The clips will be preceded by a pre-roll video ad, and publishers can share in the revenue by signing up as an affiliate and divulging information about their site content and audience demographics. Registration also enables them to customize the video player display. Voxant will then target advertising based on affiliate site and video content.

“The question will be ‘How much will [affiliates] really want to tell us?'” said Crigler.

Affiliate sites have the option of including a transcription of video content, created by Voxant’s staff of about 350 transcribers, many of whom work out of their homes. Other video ad players, such as blinkx, extract a transcription from video content with voice recognition technology, while others use closed-captioning data when available.

Transcribing the clips has an advantage over sites that tag the content with keywords, since the full transcription makes it easier to target ads to the content, and makes the clips more easily indexed by search engines, including Voxant’s own NewsRoom site search.

Voxant has developed a real-time monitoring system displaying sites where publisher content has been added, along with site categorization and analysis of site content. The company will alert content providers if an affiliate environment is deemed questionable, and provide ways for them to remove their content from inappropriate affiliate sites.

“They want to know where their content is playing. It can’t be a black box,” asserted Crigler, adding that transparency “is the whole game here.”

Crigler believes that video clips which are usually only a few minutes long, such as news stories, are easier to monetize than 30-minute TV episodes or other longer-form video footage that takes up more bandwidth and costs more to stream. Users may not tolerate the amount of advertising needed to make delivering longer video clips viable for publishers, he suggested.

Voxant expects lots of interest in sports and tech news video. Those subjects tend to be blogged about a lot, creating more demand. Crigler anticipates that some video clips could become “hyper-viral.” In such cases he plans on ensuring enough remnant ad inventory to accommodate ad support for runaway video clip hits.

Voxant is in talks with ad networks as well as potential publisher sites that could feature searchable topic-specific catalogs of Voxant content on their sites, including CGM community site Gather, according to Crigler. A Gather spokesperson told ClickZ News that the company will not discuss any potential partner relationships, but noted, “We do have plans to let members upload audio and video to their Gather pages by the end of the year just like they do with text and photos.”

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