Business challenge

To help publishers and broadcasters profitably meet exploding global demand for news videos, Oovvuu needed to quickly scale and optimize its video distribution platform using flexible, affordable AI tools.


The company used the Watson Natural Language Understanding service to globally deploy a first-of-its-kind solution that intelligently matches contextually relevant videos with articles, even as news breaks.


Up to 35 times higher ad revenues

for publishers, who can embed 500 videos every hour

Up to 90% cost reduction

in video-creation expenses reported by publishers

300% increase in video views of breaking news

attained by a leading media site in South Africa

Business challenge story

Delivering content in a new era

Readers today increasingly engage more with digital content, spending 88 percent more time on websites with video — and the ads accompanying that content — according to Forbes. For news publishers, this can present unique challenges, considering that more video content is uploaded in 30 days than the major US television networks have created in 30 years. Getting editors’ hands on the right video fast enough to insert into breaking news has been literally impossible.

Ricky Sutton, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Oovvuu, explains: “Traditionally, publishers employed a dozen or more producers to create or find relevant videos to embed in articles. At best, teams could insert perhaps 40 videos into articles daily, driving a few million views, which isn’t enough readership to compete for ad dollars with digital platforms like Facebook, YouTube or Google.

“With major publishers now writing and syndicating as many as 2,000 stories an hour, they simply can’t manually create, or find, enough relevant high-quality video content fast enough. And yet they have to get the video somewhere.”

Clearly, online publishers must go beyond their usual sources to generate the high-quality, video-enriched content they want, fast enough, and at scale to meet advertisers’ and readers’ demands.

That’s where Oovvuu comes in. Sutton and a team of fellow journalists and publishing professionals saw an opportunity to enhance Oovvuu’s Compass video distribution platform with machine-learning and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities. They sought to automate video selection so that editors could find the right broadcast quality clip from any broadcaster in the world and embed it in an article — all within seconds.

The combination of Compass and Watson is exponentially powerful. Together, we can help create an AI era.

Ricky Sutton, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Oovvuu

Transformation story

Scaling rapidly with IBM

Oovvuu teamed with IBM to achieve its vision. Using Watson technology on IBM Cloud™, Oovvuu built an AI contextuality engine that matches videos with articles, even as news breaks, based on the focus and nuances of each reported story and analysis of the video content.

The Watson Natural Language Understanding service looks through the metadata on all of the thousands of articles on a given topic, extracting any of 26 million possible keywords and concepts it finds. Oovvuu’s proprietary AI then derives values based on the metadata’s location in the article and instantly assigns each article a contextuality index, which it then uses to identify and rank the most appropriate videos to embed within the article.

“Even though there may be many articles about the same general topic, each one is subtly different,” explains Sutton. “Our ability to discern and filter these nuances, thanks to Watson Natural Language Understanding, is one of the things that makes us different.”

On the video side, the Compass platform scans a massive, cloud-based library populated with thousands of videos from more than fifty respected broadcasters, including the BBC, Bloomberg, AFP, Reuters, ITN and ABC. When it finds a video match for an article, Compass automatically appends relevant ads available from the publisher and embeds the video into the appropriate spot in the article, allowing editors to set up a story complete with video and relevant ads in a matter of minutes.

“All of this is being done in the blink of an eye,” explains Sutton. “With Compass, publishers can get any video from any broadcaster into any article anywhere in the world in under a few seconds.”

But Oovvuu didn’t stop there. The digital world is fast-moving and data-rich. The ability to constantly monitor, and instantly improve, an article’s performance is critical to meeting ad revenue targets.

Following publication, Compass applies machine-learning technologies to monitor the video-article compatibility based on clickthrough rates. When viewers click on a video, the system inquires every eight seconds to determine whether people are still viewing it and logs how long people watch the video as well as the percentage of viewers who watch it to the end. If a video doesn’t meet benchmarked expectations, the system adjusts the video’s contextuality index score and automatically replaces it with another video.

“It’s like a global news editor being run by AI that helps human editors ensure the most relevant video will be in the article,” comments Sutton.

In addition to collecting performance data on ad revenue and video viewership as well as improvement recommendations, the system also calculates publishers’ pre- and midroll advertising revenue automatically and pays out a share to everyone involved every 30 days.

“We may learn that BBC videos about parenting, for example, drive greater revenue per user at certain times of day in certain publishers than other videos,” says Sutton “We feed this viewing, engagement and monetization knowledge back into Compass to optimize recommendations based on business need.”

Results story

Driving higher news revenues

By automating the tedious and time-consuming steps of manually sourcing and inserting relevant videos from dispersed and diverse broadcasters, the Compass platform helps editors embed as many as 500 videos into articles in an hour instead of just 40 a day. Further, with Compass, client publishers report reductions in video-creation expenses of up to 90 percent. With the combined increased ad revenues and reduced costs, Oovvuu estimates that publishers’ overall revenue potential is increased by a factor of up to 35.

“By helping editors place video into articles more quickly, Compass drives greater traffic and revenue for publishers and advertisers, and a better experience for readers,” says Sutton.

One of South Africa’s leading media sites achieved dramatic results with the solution. “Within weeks of moving to Compass, we grew the video views in our breaking news environment by 300 percent, on our entertainment domain by 500 percent and in our sports channels by 400 percent, to name just a few,” says the company’s head, adding that the bottom-line impacts are profound. “We are now seeing available ad inventory at the volumes that brands and their agencies demand as an alternative to social platforms — and we can now offer that to them in a brand-safe environment on our own domains.”

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Oovvuu, named International Data Corporation (IDC) 2017 Digital Disrupter of the Year for Australia and New Zealand, blends its proprietary AI with IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding technology to automate the work of finding and inserting relevant video into news articles, and thereby increase readership and revenue. More than 200 broadcasters and publishers rely on the Oovvuu Compass platform to help them engage millions of people in 143 countries. Founded in 2014 and based in Sydney, Australia, Oovvuu employs 21 experts in journalism, business, ad tech and IT.

Take the Next Step

To learn more about the IBM solutions featured in this story, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: IBM Watson.