A startup that automatically produces videos to greet you on business websites based on data it scrambles together from across the web is both impressive and kind of creepy
SundaySky’s latest funding round shows just how popular mixing video and automatically personalized content can be to investors.
Israeli video startup SundaySky raised a Series D funding round on Wednesday led by Viola Private Equity and brought in new cash from Carmel Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Japan-based NTT DOCOMO Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners and Globespan Capital Partners. It nearly doubles their total haul to $67 million in private capital since launching 10 years ago.
SundaySky predicates its business on using videos to greet new customers when they visit a business’s website (or more specifically, when they look for information). They claim to be able to craft “the appropriate messaging and means of engagement” that draws on a profile cobbled together from resources across the web.
Calling their program SmartVideo, it automatically generates a personalized video once a visitor hits the ‘play’ button, also auto-adjusting to the device the visitor is using.
“This funding underscores the maturity of the personalized video engagement category, and SundaySky’s leadership in it,” SundaySky CEO Shmulik Weller said in a press release. “We’ve seen significant, rapid growth in adoption of SmartVideo as a strategy for leading global brands.”
Former Allot Communications CEO Rami Hadar will take over as executive chairman of the SundaySky board and Viola’s Ayal Shiran will take a seat as well.
“As the creator of the personalized video engagement market category, SundaySky has changed how brands interact with consumers, making one-to-one personalized communication possible,” said Ayal Shiran, general partner of Viola Private Equity. “We believe in SundaySky’s vision of personalized video becoming the primary engagement medium between a brand and an individual, and we look forward to working with the company to realize this future.”
Both Viola Private Equity and Carmel Ventures are part of the Viola Group. Viola Private Equity has investments in other prominent Israeli companies like now public Matomy Media and business intelligence startup Pyramid Analytics. Carmel is far more ubiquitous in the tech market with names like CrediFi, IronSource, Payoneer, Outbrain and interactive content startup PlayBuzz.
Why personalization will continue
It’s not the only startup trying to gather data from across the net, even in small amounts, to personalize greetings or services for customers. Google, Facebook and Twitter are well ahead in customization techniques, while companies like Wix are automating website design based on clients’ respective tastes.
Many people greeted personalized search results from Google with a mix of impression and concern they would lose out on general results more relevant to their searches. Then Facebook and Twitter started to use algorithms to show feeds more influenced by perceived preferences, and Instagram is following in that direction. Some companies, like Kissmetrics, constantly recommend continuous, increasingly precise engagement techniques as businesses try to convert visitors into customers. But utilizing video is likely a more effective means of holding people’s attention. Cisco projects 80% of web traffic will be streaming video by 2019.
Concerns about the invasiveness of personalization have seemingly been quelled as investments in these sorts of products and services, as this mammoth Series D demonstrates, continue to roll in.
SundaySky led its announcement with the bold proclamation that by 2020, all Fortune 500 companies (the B2C ones anyway) will adopt similar products (“personalized video storytelling”) to pitch customers online. They list AT&T, Sears, investor Comcast, and Citi as their biggest buyers. They claim to have 130 percent annual growth, though it wasn’t clear if they were referring to new clients or video views. They predicted they would have 1 billion SmartVideo views by the end of 2016.
The company declares its headquarters in New York City with other locations in Tel Aviv and Tokyo.