Business Technology

Amazon Growing Business Awards – spotlight on digital trailblazers like Unruly

6 min read

20 September 2016

Former special projects journalist

In an increasingly digital world, it is becoming harder and harder for technology companies to stand out from the crowd. However, businesses like Unruly and Easel TV are shining examples of businesses setting a trend.

The upcoming Amazing Growing Business Awards will acknowledge the very best innovators in the digital industry, so now seems a perfect time to look back at past winners in this category. Here, we take a look at Unruly (2011 winner) and Easel TV (2015 winner). 

Easel TV provides software that helps its clients manage and distribute video content.

“Our product, Suggested TV, could be thought of as offering ‘Netflix in a can’ or ‘iPlayer in a can’. This enables our clients’ online (cloud/Internet) video stores and video channels,” explained CEO Joe Foster.

“Perhaps you are a supermarket losing dvd sales to online film and TV stores and want to replace that with a virtual or Internet based video store, or a TV channel with a library of content, or a sports brand with valuable video rights. We can create a fully branded service for you in a matter of weeks on iPads, mobiles, connected TVs, Apple TV, Amazon TV, and also on Virgin Media’s TV service, and Freesat.”

Unruly is also a business built around video, but its mission is simply to get videos noticed.

“Unruly’s mission is to deliver the most awesome social video campaigns on the planet,” said Sarah Wood, co-CEO and co-founder. “We get videos seen, shared and loved across the open web for brands that want to move people, not just reach people.”

The business has a range of products to help brands get their videos seen, as well as a range of content testing tools which can: identify the type and intensity of emotions elicited by your ad to predict its impact, optimise content for emotional impact and improve creativity quality before launch, analyse the metrics that matter such as purchase intent and predicted shareability, and analyse if viewers feel an ad is authentic to the brand.

After demonstrating success in helping the likes of Evian, T-Mobile and Adidas create and distribute viral videos, Unruly was actually acquired by News Corp last year in a deal worth £114m. Since the acquisition, Unruly and its three founders have operated as a separate business, reporting to News UK CEO Rebekah Brooks.

At the time of the deal, News Corp’s chief executive Robert Thompson said the media company has a “track record of acquiring businesses with unique capabilities” – then giving the teams there the “freedom to do what they do best”, but backed by global platform.

Make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to make your pick for this year’s Amazon Growing Business Awards by visiting the nominations page

Digital innovation can be extremely complex and many businesses find it difficult to keep up with the ever-changing pace of technology. Both of these digital champions pride themselves on being able to offer a complete solution to their clients.

Foster said: “Most alternatives to us require a client to build their service themselves from all these components, that’s a lot of expense up front, it then also takes a lot of time to get to market (a lot of time when you’re not earning money) and results in an untried and untested solution.

“So we that big cost barrier to entry and allow clients to start earning faster, all on a tried and tested, robust service. That is pretty unique.”

According to Foster, there are others offering similar solutions, but they are usually a partnership of a collective of companies, each supporting a different part of the service. This drives up costs, risks, and delivery time.

Likewise, Unruly can offer its clients access to vast amounts of data that would be hugely expensive and time-consuming to obtain otherwise. Wood said: “Our unique selling point is our unique data set of almost one million consumer responses, as well as three trillion tracked video views – then we harness the power of this data to bring emotional intelligence to digital advertising.”

Because of the nature of digital businesses, both comfortably operate globally and have their eyes on ambitious growth for the coming years.

Foster said: “The recently completed milestone in our product’s development was to complete all aspects of our video service and allow us to reproduce at scale. Our credibility would have been questioned if we’d have tried to sell something we couldn’t deliver. But we now need funding to ramp up sales and marketing, and a support organisation that will allow us to really get and sustain multiple clients.”

For Unruly, the focus of the next 12 months will be scaling as fast as it can, particularly its programmatic revenue. In addition, the business hopes to drive profits from advertising as clients turn to them to help beat ad blocking.

Looking to the future, Wood advised: “Be clear on what you want to achieve and where you want to go. Let your goals and objectives drive your forwards, and don’t fight your own inclinations.”

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