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(From left) Flickstree’s Rahul Jain, Nagender Sangra and Saurabh Singh use an AI-based data analytics engine to curate videos for partners.
(From left) Flickstree’s Rahul Jain, Nagender Sangra and Saurabh Singh use an AI-based data analytics engine to curate videos for partners.

How a partnership model is driving short videos on phones

Flickstree has more than 100 partners for its embedded video player that comes as a white-label solution

Indians love their videos, but for most brands, telecom companies and phone manufacturers included, providing a steady stream of engaging video content to users is a challenge. That’s where curated video publisher network Flickstree comes in.

The Mumbai-based startup has more than 100 partners for its embedded video player that comes as a white-label solution. This lets it curate videos from multiple sources and provide them within the apps and websites of partners.

Samsung smartphones, for instance, come preloaded with a My Galaxy app, which has videos for entertainment, news, or shopping. These come from Flickstree’s video player embedded in the app. Micromax and Xiaomi phones also have it integrated in their video apps.

Smartphone makers are not the only ones using Flickstree. For example, advertising company Optimise Media sources videos for its affiliate network of bloggers promoting clients’ products.

The partners save on the cost of creating videos to engage their users. Every partner gets a console to customize the video player with relevant content selected from the 500,000 videos currently on the platform in various categories. Flickstree works with brands and advertisers to monetize these free-to-watch videos and shares the revenue with publisher partners and video creators.

Video creators need not always rely on Flickstree for the branding and ads. They can create branded content directly, in which case they will share revenue with Flickstree and publishers. If their content gets picked up by Flickstree and distributed via partners like Samsung and Xiaomi, the creator’s value proposition to a brand is greater because the reach is much wider than just being on YouTube or Facebook.

ENGAGING USERS

Currently, the Flickstree video platform gets 30 million users and 200 million video views monthly, but the opportunity is far greater, says Saurabh Singh, Flickstree CEO and co-founder. “There are about two million apps today in India alone and most of them are not making money because the cost of acquiring users with ad spend is much higher than the revenue they make from traffic. So we’re giving these apps as well as websites and blogs an opportunity to monetize their traffic better."

Singh says it’s the stickiness of videos that enables publishers to make money from user traffic. “The clickthrough rate for a display ad on an app or website is 1.5-2%. The moment you shift the display to a video, the clickthrough rate goes up to 8% because videos are more engaging."

Besides, on the Flickstree video player, which has curated content, the creators wouldn’t have to jostle with a multitude of similar videos as they would do on YouTube. For example, Flickstree taps 9X Media’s Spotboye channel for Bollywood gossip videos. Spotboye competes with only two other channels on the Flickstree video player for this genre which has hundreds of channels on YouTube. The video creator can stand out from the crowd, incentivizing collaboration.

CREATING CONTENT

Over 90% of Flickstree’s videos are sourced from third parties, although it does have a studio to create some branded content of its own, taking advantage of user analytics. Since its video player can track users, the startup’s AI-based data analytics engine helps curate videos to improve user engagement for partners.

The distribution partners are at the heart of the Flickstree model. So it’s not surprising that Samsung’s venture investment arm led a $3 million Series A funding last month, with participation from angel investor LD Sharma, who is CEO of Optimise Media Group.

Singh traces Flickstree’s B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) model back to his days as a brand manager for Asian Paints, which also sold its products via dealers rather than directly to consumers. “For 12 years, what I learned is that the best way to grow is to appoint resellers who, for their own profitability, will get you more traffic."

EXPANSION PLANS

Early backing from Taiwan-based Mobile Only Accelerator (MOX) helped adapt the model to video content on phones. MOX helped with the technology to accurately track sales arising from videos. MOX is also helping Flickstree expand into Southeast Asia by tapping its contacts with publishers as well as sources of local video content in Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese languages.

“Our model is global," says Singh. “We’re punching above our weight with 30 million users for a three-year-old startup. At the same time, the opportunity is 1000x. From that perspective, the challenge is to keep multiplying publishers at a faster rate."

Within India, Flickstree is riding the post-Jio video boom, thanks to the fall in data rates. It took the share of videos consumed on smartphones from less than 5% before 2017 to 60% now, says Singh.

Malavika Velayanikal is a consulting editor with Mint. She tweets @vmalu.

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