Online video news company NowThis Media says it has seen dramatic growth, going from 1 million video views a year ago, to 50 million earlier this year, to 200 million in May.
That’s a lot of eyeballs, especially for a startup that’s less than three years old and has a team of 35 people. In fact, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Products Athan Stephanopoulos (who joined through the acquisition of Cliptamatic) admitted that many of you probably haven’t even heard of it.
“We are clearly punching above our weight class,” he said.
In an email to the NowThis team, Stephanopoulos pointed to five factors that have contributed to the company’s growth — videos that are “platform-appropriate,” technology, data-driven decision making, the audience and the team.
Stephanopoulos elaborated in an interview, saying that NowThis has a “distributed media” strategy that’s all about creating videos that are specifically tailored to each platform, whether it’s Vine, YouTube, Facebook or elsewhere.
For example, he said the team has learned Instagram usually isn’t the right place for hard news. At the same time, NowThis will sometimes cover a story like the Baltimore riots across all its platforms, just in different ways, as hinted at in the graphic above.
Other media companies, like BuzzFeed, have also talked about this kind of distributed model, but NowThis went after it early and aggressively — it isn’t interested in driving traffic to the NowThis website, which doesn’t even feature any videos.
But does that make NowThis particularly vulnerable if the big social media platforms change? Stephanopoulos suggested that the real challenge here is monetization. The company has addressed that with the creation of NowThis Studio, which creates branded content for advertisers.
As for the tech, he argued, “We are a distribution company as much as we are a media company, and we are a technology company as much as that.” At the same time, he said the goal is not to constantly churn out generic videos.
“At its core, the tech is not outputting the content, it’s actually creating this incredible level of efficiencies for our content producers,” Stephanopoulos said. “Each (video) has voice, has soul to it. You can’t game the system. You can’t get this level of views if the content itself was not good.”