Everyone loves to watch a fun, attention-grabbing video.
Video marketing has rapidly become crucial to the growth of brands. The quality and creative direction, however, is what makes or breaks a company's strategy. Directing and editing a video that speaks to consumers is no easy task, and it's generally not cheap.
One tech startup, called Magisto, wants to help those businesses to create high quality videos with little effort.
On Wednesday, the video editing platform launched a business-specific editing feature, "Magisto for Business," designed to help brands create inexpensive, high-quality videos. Using patented A.I. technology, the new software allows you to cut, splice, caption and re-order scenes. The feature uses an algorithm that can discern the most important, "emotional" moments. The entire process takes as little as minutes, and costs $20 a month (or $120 annually).
"We're trying to create an industrial revolution so people can publish videos by themselves," said Magisto co-founder and CEO, Oren Boiman.
The company, which first launched in 2011, now counts more than 75 million users, who have collectively analyzed more than 2.5 billion pieces of content on the platform. Magisto has raised $25 million in venture capital funding from investors including Horizons Ventures, and has 60 total employees in Menlo Park, Calif.
Why the Shift to Small Businesses?
Due to the high cost of hiring editors (and the low quality footage that a non-expert would typically produce), marketers have historically shied away from using video ads as a branding strategy.
Boiman wants to change that. The idea behind Magisto's new feature has been brewing in his mind for some time now, but the challenge was a technical one: He needed to create new A.I. (which he ultimately called the "Smart Storyboard") to give businesses the creative upper hand.
"Businesses want a higher level of control," Boiman tells me. "We recognize the need for more customization."
The startup's flagship product has significantly more limitations than the new feature. For instance, users aren't able to make smaller editing tweaks, and would instead have to start over from scratch if they weren't satisfied with the auto-generated result. That's why Magisto has traditionally been used for more personal projects, such as making home movies or one-off social media posts.
Boiman points out that the new software is designed to adapt to specific business cases--from product demos to tutorials and even event recaps. Advertisements, he says, are just one slice of a much larger pie.
The Strong Potential for a Huge Market Reach
Magisto's software is poised for a big uptake. (Boiman says he's been in talks with several "big" companies, though he declined to disclose prospective clients).
Adults in the U.S. are 73 percent more likely to purchase a product when they've seen a video demo first, according to a 2014 study from Animoto. What's more, a recent report from Forrester found that one-third of adults in the U.S. watch five or more hours of video online each week.
Nowhere is the mass proliferation of video more apparent than on social media: In 2015, Facebook reported a record eight billion daily video views. That's ten times what it had the previous year. Snapchat logs six billion views daily on its platform. Just last year, Twitter introduced native videos in response to the format's growing popularity.
"The age of video is definitely here," says Boiman. "Something has tipped on the market demand, and I think it's related to what's happening on social media. Businesses are getting a mass education every day. Every time they share a video, the difference is huge."
Beating Out Competitors by Catering to Small Businesses
To be sure, Magisto isn't the only video editing platform out there. Others, like Nutshell, can create short "movies" in just a few seconds. The Nuthsell app can also create an audio track using sounds captured during the times the photos were taken. Late last year, Instagram rolled out its Boomerang app, which creates one-second videos by stitching together a burst of photographs, and then looping it forwards and backwards.
Still, Boiman insists that the vast potential of video marketing can only be captured using automated technology like his. As Millennials grow increasingly saturated with video marketing, businesses need to make the right kind of impression online.
Skeptics point out that such automated software loses something when it lacks the human touch. "An algorithm can determine cuts between a few shots you upload. You can filter a theme, and select some overdone music for the video, but it can't examine content, find the best storyline, and carefully craft something," says Inc.com video editor Tim Rice.
Boiman is doing his best to give the machinery some soul. Magisto's "emotion sensor" technology can theoretically determine the most engaging moments in a scene--for instance, when the bride and groom would kiss during their wedding.
"The ability of an A.I. to move people was something that we had to crack," Boiman concedes. "We cracked it not with our PhD knowledge, but by bringing the best video artists and editors to our office."
This is the first new feature Magisto has rolled out since its launch three years ago, and Boiman is confident that businesses will respond well to it. All great videos, he said, require the same basic principle: Authenticity.
For businesses, especially, he adds: "The personal and the authentic element is really important."