Trading real dollars for digital dimes: iVideoSmart has a smart solution to the problem plaguing the content industry

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"The entire advertising industry is broken, leaving us with multiple unhappy stakeholders," says Alexandre Yokoyama, CEO of iVideoSmart. It's not an over-the-top statement, not the way Alex explains it. To him, we're living in an age of content disarray, where unspecified authors are ignorant to their rightful recognition and monetising content is a slow-burning, under-utilised method of generating revenue.

The content creators of today are exchanging real dollars for digital dimes - a bad tradeoff, in Alex's opinion, as they aren't monetising well.

Additionally, brands hoping to make a real connection with their target audiences are struggling due to ineffective campaign messages based on ads, owing to high skip rates and ad blockers. Lastly, large groups of video content distributors - typically telcos - are subject to less-than-favourable trade-offs with content middle-men such as Netflix and YouTube.

"These three main stakeholders aren't happy, iVideoSmart's come up with a solution to address these issues, helping content owners make more money, brands to engage better, and distributors to have their cake and eat it too," Alex explains.

"Specifically for brands, common alternatives are native ads and sponsored content, but these alternatives have their limitations due to the natural fragmentation of social media, and influencers who refrain from disclosing their sponsorship lest damage to their reputation."

In turn, iVideoSmart has created a relevant yet elegant solution, blending sponsored content into existing organic content, thus delivering a more user-friendly experience to consumers on the receiving end. Yet at the same time, creating a safe environment for data collection and brands to measure their performance - all of which can lead to important insights. 

Working alongside iVideoSmart Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Lee Sze Chin (SQ), Alex frequently jokes about their roles at the 2-year old startup.

"A simple way of remembering what we do in the company, is that I make promises, and SQ delivers!"

Nevertheless, the duo is serious about their promises in delivering white label video business-in-a-box to businesses everywhere. "We're looking at the huge global content owners and telcos out there," elaborates Alex. "We aim to help the premium of their industries monetise to their full potential. Our three-pronged approach is very unique, as our competitors are usually offering their individual solutions, but aren't even close to being a one-stop service like iVideoSmart is."


NO ONE PAYS FOR SERVICES ANYMORE

SQ: Alex and I come from the content world. He spent 7 and a half years at Google, whereas I worked for the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) for 7 years. As a result, we always knew that video was going to be the next big thing. To us, video was a no brainer.

Alex: The reality is, no one pays for anything anymore, least of all content. Being able to monetise the content that you have on hand is a real demand everywhere. Fundamentally, you need to make your content largely free for it to be popular, in the hopes that the monetisation conversion will be high when you use ads to drive it.

SQ: We understand that, and as a result, iVideoSmart provides a one-stop service to all video solutions. I think it's fair to say that we're going to be offering everything video-on-demand.

Alex: With all the different aspects of the video advertising business integrated into a single offering, we will provide brands the ease of a one-stop-service solution - From advertising to content or technology, we've got it.


THERE IS SOME TRUTH THAT CONTENT IS KING

SQ: However, if you look at Facebook and Google, content is only part of the equation. Content definitely drives traffic, but the main issue is this: As a content owner, are you able to monetise the content that you've created?

Alex: In order for content owners to monetise, they need to use technology - such as the big data play or content recognition - to properly recognise and attribute who created what part of the content, in order to determine who is entitled to which part of the cut.

SQ: Yeah, because technically, content is just a mere platform that you should be utilizing to better reach your audiences. If your content sits on YouTube or Facebook, those aren't your users, those are theirs. Content is King, that's true. But content owners are not.


FORTITUDINE VINCIMUS

Alex: That's my personal motto, which in Latin means 'By endurance we conquer".

SQ: Yes, it's been a very tough journey, with lots of hard work that n one sees. You need to be prepared to give it your all, because there's lots of stress and anxiety. I haven't slept in ages!

Alex: Thankfully our team is incredibly diverse and hardworking. We are a startup, and though we can never compete with the huge corporates, bank, or the government, our team comprises of people who are self-taught and have a genuine passion for the work they do.

SQ: I agree! We even have a colleague based in Kuala Lumpur who went blind in 2008, but had the fortitude to relearn how to code without his sight. He memorises his codes, and is one of our best coders too!

Tish Wong