Wibbitz CEO and co-founder Zohar Dayan on how automated video is changing media consumption

In the early aughts, ringtones were all the rage. Then, everyone defaulted to silencing their phones. Seemingly overnight, ringtones became passé. The same is becoming true of sound-on mobile video, which has given rise to text on video. One of the publishers that has famously helped create this phenomenon is BuzzFeed’s Tasty, which has churned out viral recipe tutorials driven by overhead video overlayed with text.

Wibbitz, a New Yorked-based company founded in 2011, works with over 600 customers – including Bloomberg, Reuters, Conde Nast, Birchbox, and The Weather Channel – to not only create text on video content, but also to produce videos for all platforms from static images and text. For publishers, having more content to distribute – especially video content – across all platforms, means more ways to reach readers and viewers, and more ways to monetize.

For more on Wibbitz, how it works with publishers, and the text on video trend, we spoke with CEO and founder Zohar Dayan:

Found Remote: With so many publishers creating OTT channels, how does Wibbitz help them create content to distribute? 

Zohar Dayan: Now that so many people are cutting the cord in the traditional sense, they’re investing more in OTT technologies like Apple TV or Roku, or IoT devices like the Amazon Echo Show, that together make up the new “smart home”. That means people are expecting the content they consume to be more tailored to them, easier to access, and available where and when they want it.

So it’s a smart move for publishers to create their own channels within this new content ecosystem – but as it continues to get more crowded, it’s important that they’re able to consistently create content for these new audiences, in the format that they’ve become acclimated to – quick, digestible video.

With Wibbitz, local news publishers like The Weather Channel are able to quickly create this type of short-form video at scale, in order to cover hyper-local news stories for dozens of communities and distribute it directly to their OTT network LocalNow. We also help Mail Plus provide their Daily Mail Skills subscribers on Echo Show with daily video briefings around the hottest stories, and their Mail Recipes Skill subscribers with a steady flow of recipe videos that let them listen, watch and cook meals all in one place.

FR:  Text on video is a must as more people consume video with the sound off. Is this just a trend or is it the new norm?

Dayan: Definitely the norm. As long as we’re getting our information on our phones and on the go, then text on videos will continue to be the best format to relay that information. These types of videos check off all the boxes that we look for on a social feed or news site – they’re entertaining, easily digestible, and allow you to read, see, (and if your sound is on, hear) a story in less than a minute. 

FR:  How is video changing journalism? Where does Wibbitz fit in here?

Dayan: Video has been a large part of journalism for awhile now, whether that’s through TV shows, documentaries, or user-generated content captured on phones. But I think it’s the rise of this type of short-form, text on video content that has truly changed the way people get the news – and in turn, how journalists cover it.

As one of the first video technologies that introduced this new video format, we saw firsthand how it changed the way our customers were delivering news. They began transforming their stories into bite-sized versions of what they historically would have published as a full text article and realized how much easier this type of content was for their audiences to consume on their phones, especially the first few generations of iPhones. Now, people expect to be able to see the news and not just read it. It’s become a prerequisite for getting their attention, retaining their attention, and establishing a sense of credibility for a journalism organization, especially on social platforms where this type of content is wanted and expected.

Video technologies like Wibbitz have also changed journalists’ roles. Now that they’re given the tools to create new, visual types of content they weren’t able to before, a writer is no longer just a writer, but a multimedia content creator. There’s a new prerequisite of journalists to be experienced in a multitude of different mediums and have a diverse array of content skills in their toolbox. 

FR:  How has Wibbitz adopted to newer social platforms outside of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat?

Dayan: Since we’ve been working with more and more marketers, we’ve found a lot of success on LinkedIn. Of course, it’s not a new social platform per say, but it is relatively new to video. So, we’ve been working closely with our marketing clients – especially B2B services and law firms – to make sure we’re solving their needs for that platform specifically. 

We’ve also developed new templates and editing tools to keep up with all of Instagram’s new video channels that they’ve introduced – first, with Stories, and most recently, with IGTV. We came out with Snippets, which are 10-second vertical video templates that are perfect for Instagram Stories. They act as a visually engaging teaser to a larger story, where users can swipe up to get the whole scoop. And for IGTV, we added more customization capabilities to our longer form (1-2 minute) video template, which helped a lot of our customers build up a solid IGTV presence within the first month that it was launched.

FR:  With more text on video tools coming to market, what is Wibbitz doing to stay ahead?

Dayan: Our product has always evolved in direct response to our customers’ needs. We make sure to keep a strong feedback loop with all of our users and are constantly making improvements to ensure we’re solving what their needs are now – and will be – in the future. On top of that, we’re always adding more templates and customization options, and refreshing our library of media and soundtracks with the most relevant and high-quality content.

This process has allowed us to build a product that offers the most high-quality, professional-looking videos on the market, while still being quick and easy to use by content creators with any skill set. And this will always be our goal – to continue allowing storytellers as much control and customization as possible, while still ending up with a video that looks great every time.

With that said, we also have some major plans that we’re rolling out in the near future, so stay tuned!

Adam Flomenbaum

The new Found Remote