It will be easier for more businesses to create and share video ads if Grainne Barron has her way.
Last week, Barron, the founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Viddyad, was named this year’s grand prize winner at the L’Oréal USA Women in Digital awards held in New York.
Viddyad is a platform that lets brands and businesses quickly create, edit, and publish online video ads. Founded in 2013, Barron’s company, which also has offices in Dublin, Ireland, has access to a library of video clips and images that can be used to produce these ads at affordable prices. Viddyad is getting an opportunity to work more with bigger league clientele thanks to the Women in Digital program.
Now in its fifth year, Women in Digital selects three woman-led startups to be mentored and then have a chance at conducting pilots with some of L’Oréal’s brands. It is a way to encourage more women to become entrepreneurs, while also giving the cosmetics giant an opportunity to see new ideas and potentially tap into the innovation these startups offer.
Barron says she grew up surrounded by television and video production, went on to own production companies in Dublin, and worked for the NBC television network in New York and California. She produced video commercials herself and wanted to come up with an approach to be more efficient. “Cost of production was coming down, but to really scale a business you needed to have some way of automating the system,” Barron says.
Through Viddyad she created an editing system in the cloud with access to content to make easier for businesses to produce their own online video ads—which despite its rapid growth as a medium for marketing, has been a challenge for some companies to take advantage of. “The current model is broken,” Barron says. “It’s too expensive, too time-consuming, and quite frankly very, very difficult for smaller businesses.”
She is not alone in building an idea to shake up the status quo of an industry. This year’s other Women in Digital finalists were Morgan DeBaun, founder and CEO of Blavity; and Grace Woo, co-founder and CEO of Pixels.IO. Blavity, founded in 2014, is a digital community that develops content for African-American millennials who are underrepresented in mainstream media and culture. Woo’s Pixels.IO, founded in 2013 and a spinoff from MIT Media Lab, develops technology for interactive media.
Viddyad can help small businesses, but is clearly thinking big. Its content library includes material from Getty Images, and has access to some 80 million video clips and images, as well as other providers of stock footage. Users of Viddyad can also upload their own images, music, special effects, and video from their phones or computer desktop. Barron says the content in the library is also shuffled around to help prevent the finished ads from looking similar, even if they draw from comparable categories. “I’ve never seen an ad that’s similar,” she says. “There’s probably a thousand different ways you can make a video.”
Once an ad is crafted and rendered in high definition, it can be distributed on such platforms as Facebook. “It democratizes video ad creation and levels that playing field and opens up opportunities to 28 million small to medium-size businesses in the United States,” Barron says.
Her company is on the rise at a time when, as of this year, digital advertising spending ($77 billion) is exceeding traditional television ad spending ($72 billion) in the U.S. for the first time ever.
Barron says the Viddyad platform, at its core, can let anyone create a video quickly with their own music and visual effects, even to make a news video. Furthermore, the platform allows for customization and localization of the content to make it a better fit for wherever it is displayed, such as video screens in stores. “It enables a brand to put controls into the hands of those who sell their products,” she says.
Being selected by the Women in Digital program, Barron says, gives Viddyad the opportunity to work with a plethora of brands as well as bring more digital ads to local stores. “There’s a really good fit with L’Oréal and where Viddyad wants to be and is already with our platform,” she says.
The Women in Digital program has its share of notable alumni, such as Shoppable (also known as 72Lux), which graduated from the 500 Startups accelerator in 2011 and just last month landed a $3.5 million Series A round. Poptip was acquired in 2014 by Palantir Technologies.
Barron says, going forward, Viddyad plans to work with other big brands, along with small to medium-size companies.