Its hard to believe that YouTube did not even exist when I started college (which will be 10 years ago in September... ugh). That's because viral, Internet videos feel like the kind of thing that we just always did. In reality, its a relatively new phenomenon, one that is even younger than social media.
With the rise of video creation has provided a new problem: how to get content out there. Sure, social media can help, but it can only do so much. That is where Epoxy, a company that provides tools for video content creators to help distribution, comes in.
The company has raised a $6.5 million Series A financing round, it was announced on Tuesday. Upfront Ventures and Time Warner Investments led the round.
The company previously raised a $2 million seed round from Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Advancit Capital, Greycroft Partners and Robert Downey Jr.’s Downey Ventures in March of last year. It has now raised $8.5 million in total funding.
Founded in 2012, and in private beta until last month, Epoxy provides tools that are designed to both help YouTubers, and networks, to optimize their business and deepen the relationship with their audience.
Juan Bruce, the company's CEO and co-founder, and Jason Ahmad, Epoxy's CPO and co-founder, told me in a joint interview that the idea for Epoxy came out of both of their experiences working with video distribution, and seeing what was lacking.
After being students together at Stanford, Bruce became President of Digital at Robert Downey Jr.'s production company Team Downey. Ahmad co-foundeed of NYC financial software start-up Proto. In both of their capacities, they said, each of them noticed the same thing: that video content creators lacked a definitive set of tools to help them give their videos the best possible reach.
"Epoxy was the outgrowth of that experience," Bruce said. "We didn't see the same level of analytics tools to manage as social, gaming and mobile would."
Through Epoxy, video content creators can build apps, which the company calls "channel apps," within social destinations like Facebook and Twitter. They help distribute and drive content better than a YouTube link by putting the video in context of all of the creator’s channels. This then helps drive what Epoxy called "follow-on views," in which the view then continues on to other content in the same channel.
The tools build also on the "most important conversations happening around that content," Ahmad told me. "This allows them to take action and to interact back with audience."
Most importantly, though, Epoxy is also able to track "dark social traffic," or the traffic that happens when people discuss content without using a hashtag or a social handle on social media. In all, they said, 80% of all conversations centered around online video never mentioned either a channel or hashtag, making it much harder to track.
By being able to expose this previously unmined traffic, which both co-founders say goes beyond simple keyword targeting and which takes "intense engineering power," the content creators can then greatly expand their reach by pushing more content to those fans.
Epoxy is actually serving two markets, Bruce said: first the "community of YouTubers that inspired the company to be more efficient and powerful." Second, its enterprise clients, who they help increase audience engagement and growth activities, which are "hard to do at scale."
The company also measures its success in two different ways. On the distribution side it measure success based on follow-on viewership, where someone views one video, and then tools can measure how many more views that channel got. Epoxy currently has a 50% follow on view rate, meaning that for every 1000 people who watch a video, the channel gets well over another 500 views.
On the engagement side, it measurs the reach of audience, which are generally 10 to 100 times higher than those who try to distribute through Twitter directly.
"Our mission is to provide distribution and audience engagement tools across the social destinations where consumers spend time," said Bruce. "Our mission is to further that audience connect that is critical for YouTubers and media companies."
The new funding will be used to expand the product, and to expand the staff. Epoxy currently has 15 employees, and plans to add significantly to its sales and marketing team, as well consultants and engineers. There are currently 12 open positions, with even more to come.
The Venice, California-based company charges $19 a month for content creators to use its tools, though the company will not say how many customers it currently has.
"We are really excited to have added Time Warner, since we see it as a reflection of a greater industry trend," said Ahmad. "A few years ago, online video was small concern, just a small part of the ecosystem. Now, with Disney acquiring Maker, and companies like Time Warner investing in companies like ours, its a signal to the market that online video, and the communities that follow it across the Web, are very important."