By Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop
Launched in 2013, the online video platform Viddsee has gathered over 500 million users globally by specialising in the underserved market of Southeast Asian short films and using data analytics to develop its viewership and optimise content discovery.
Co-founded by Derek Tan and Ho Jia Jian, the free-to-watch platform started in Singapore and Malaysia, before expanding to larger markets like Indonesia and the Philippines. Derek shared that the idea for the platform developed after he and Jia Jian found it hard to bring their own films to the general public, and that their videos were being “drowned in a sea of online content”.
“Our vision was that we would develop and grow an audience by bringing together strong cinematic short films and consistent programming. This would, in turn, help build an ecosystem where filmmakers have an outlet to share their stories,” Derek said.
Co-founders of Viddsee: Ho Jia Jian (left) and Derek Tan. (Photo credit: Viddsee)
Viddsee first focused on building a “creator” community through strong curation and branding, before moving towards growing an “audience” community. “The platform aims to make short films easily accessible, to inspire and ignite conversations among local audiences with their own local stories, and also to expose audiences to regional and global stories. We do this by driving content-marketing efforts for each short film with editorial, video marketing and community engagement,” explained Derek
He added that building communities takes time, but that poring over data has helped the process. “There’s a lot of data analytics available that we can use. This gives us insights into how we can market different types of content for different communities – for example, what keywords we should use and what images will work to market a film better. Next, we hope to explore how we can use the data to create content with filmmakers,” said Derek.
Most recently, the platform launched a new channel dedicated to Singapore short films, curated to showcase the wide range of home-grown productions from documentaries to comedy-dramas and animations. This partnership between Viddsee and the Singapore Film Commission was announced earlier at the launch of the Singapore Media Festival 2016
The Singapore Film Channel will allow audiences from the region to enjoy local content produced by filmmakers such as Kirsten Tan, K. Rajagopal and Leon Cheo.
As part of the partnership, the company will also be commissioning its first original short film by a Singapore filmmaker, to produce a Singapore-inspired story for a local and regional audience. Derek said, “We believe that it will be a mix of data science and human curation of stories. We hope to augment data with the filmmaker’s story, and craft a film targeted for reaching an audience online. It would likely impact content creation for marketing.”
Viddsee has also recently started to enlarge its inventory by inking partnerships with leading entertainment players, such as Discovery Networks Asia Pacific, while asking the respected Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival to help curate Chinese shorts under a new “Chinese Delights” channel on its platform.
Looking ahead, the company is also looking to build new content opportunities for creators. Derek said, “At the moment, we are championing the use of immersive storytelling — as opposed to interruptive ads — to drive media for marketing (especially for an online audience). We have already created successful content advertising and marketing campaigns for DBS Sparks, NTUC Income’s Last Day of School and Community Chest Gift, and Ripple.”