Telly, a San Francisco-based social video discovery platform, announced today the launch of My Telly, a service which surfaces videos for its users based on their social graph. The startup, previously called Twitvid, pivoted in mid-2012 after recognizing that video discovery was a bigger pain point than uploading and sharing video content on Twitter. To date the company boasts seven million users, with the company indexing almost 75 million videos since it rebranded, and an average user spending at least 20 minutes on the site per visit.
CEO Mo Al Adham spoke with BetaKit about the company’s integrated approach to online videos and why discovery and not creating or sharing videos became the new focus for the company. “Early in 2012, the company really realized the big problem in the video space wasn’t so much being able to shoot and host user-generated video, but it was more so a discovery problem,” said Al Adham in an interview. “Not only is more video being created and uploaded, it’s also more dispersed, it used to be that YouTube was the only game in town to host video…My Telly is really about helping people discover amazing videos that their social network has curated for them.”
The algorithm powering My Telly looks at the activity of friends on Telly, Facebook, or Twitter who watch, comment, share, or like a video, and then ranks those videos higher and prompt users to watch them. According to Al Adham, this is just the first in a long string of product updates aimed at providing greater personalization, making sure the user is served the right video at the right time and taking into account the device someone is using at the time, for example showing shorter videos if a user is on a mobile device.
Al Adham said the company is picking up a lot of behavioral data since its algorithm learns as a user interacts with the app. In turn, it can then leverage that to work with brands and content creators to provide targeted native advertising. Providers of promoted content can creating a 30-second clip or a longer branded content video, and target them to the users most likely to watch.
Moving away from only uploading and sharing videos on Twitter was a smart decision given that Twitter’s own recently-launched video app Vine dominates more than half of the videos shared on the social network today, according to KeyHole Analytics, effectively overtaking SocialCam and possibly resulting in Viddy’s CEO being asked to step down. On the one hand Telly competes with YouTube and Vimeo since it allows users to upload their existing videos, but they can’t actually film anything on the web platform, only the mobile app. On the other hand Telly goes up against video discovery platforms like ShowYou, fliqq, and Shelby.TV, and video discovery is becoming an increasingly crowded space.
“For one, we have this user-generated content creation experience…and if you look at the video landscape the Vines of the world…they are squarely focused on that. What we learned from talking to our users was that wasn’t enough. They wanted to see long-form content, curated, semi-professional YouTube [videos] that people have cut,” said Mike Cieri, Head of Product at Telly, in an interview. “To merge that discovery experience with those kind of videos with user-generated content into this one cohesive video discovery platform…nobody is really running the whole gamut of creation, social discovery, and discovery of third-party videos.”
With multi-platform presence on the web, iOS and Android devices, the company wants to let users find personalized content on whatever device they use, and now with My Telly they’re providing insight on what their friends and followers are watching. Telly is betting its all-in-one video platform has enough going for it to beat out the competition both in the user-generated realm and social video discovery space, and whether that holds true is something that remains to be seen.