Japan’s video production startup Viibar finds $3.5M in funding, partners with Nikkei


See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Viibar, the startup specializing in all things video productions, announced on Tuesday that it has it has secured funding from and partnered with Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a leading Japan economics newspaper hereafter referred to as Nikkei. The company plans to work closely with Nikkei’s newly established digital marketing organization called N Brand Studio, in building a team to develop and provide new services and advertising products that go beyond the company’s current main role of supporting the creation of video materials.

Viibar CEO Yuta Kamisaka stated concretely that in the spring of 2017 they will launch a new media project on Nikkei Style, which is managed by Nikkei. In addition to this, they will enter into product development that includes video content and is currently being offered by Nikkei as a set for tie-up advertisement, etc., in addition to also supporting content marketing for companies.

Nikkei Style

Along with this business partnership, Viibar also received approximately 400 million yen (around $3.5 million US) in the latest funding round from Dentsu Digital Holdings and Globis Capital Partners as well as Nikkei. Details such as the valuation and payment date were not disclosed. Dentsu and Globis also participated in the previous round.

Viibar, who has supported the crowdsourcing of video materials for companies, has undertaken a new development: an investment and corporate alliance with the media. From the onset, they did not simply provide crowdsourcing for video production, but also dabbled in the media, with funds received from Yahoo Japan in their previous round, and Bouncy, their version of distributed contents. With recent developments, it appears they are ready to go from testing the waters to jumping straight in head first.

These past few years Viibar has been riding the crowdsourcing wave by gathering creators on-line and streamlining production through their production platform. The company has given new options for video production where previously there was only one, to order from a professional production company, and since its inception in 2013 they have assembled some 3000 creators online with the number of companies using their service climbing to 600.

Viibar’s key feature is the so-called “production studio on the cloud”, and there is no need to worry about quality control if a specific creator leaves the production, or a shortage of resources to meet the demands of a large order, which can occur with a general production company. Also, in many cases, the produced contents gets “distributed”, which means the media is necessary. Apart from traditional television and signage, of course, distribution on the Internet is the goal for their creative endeavors.

As mentioned in the release, it is not the first time for Viibar to support the video production of other media. However, this time, with the inclusion of funding, it feels like they intend to expand into a media company, rather than stop at the crowdsourcing of video production/practical knowledge for creating commissioned videos. In fact, even though their business scheme with Nikkei is still under wraps, upon talking with Kamisaka examples of where they are headed, revenue shares, etc. (all points not in the official release) became quite clear.

Viibar has moved from crowdsourcing a little closer to a outsourcing production platform. So, will their video marketing business open up considerably by collaborating with the Nikkei brand?

Here Kamisaka emphasized the word “quality” when it comes to creative pursuits. In the first place, crowdsourcing has some difficulties in quality control regarding work on specific smaller sections of a larger project. However, Viibar covers this with their system and operations, successfully producing a quality top brands can utilize.

Kamisaka elaborated on the cost as well.

The price, that is to say the time and effort that is usually put in by people,  compared to a major production company is reasonable. Although, a production company with various people working together internally beats crowdsourcing that doesn’t value quality. For our company, we believe jobs that are just cheap are not work for creators, so it’s good this way.

Since there is no doubt that the balance of quality and cost will lead to profit in the end, the pricing and profit margin of each video advertising product they will sell with the Nikkei brand becomes interesting.

Over the past few years Viibar has constructed a system that can flexibly deliver high-quality content to the world, and from now will use brand-name media and distribution to move to a new stage. This then becomes a test of whether they can expand as a business by taking this next step away from a production platform.

I think it comes down to whether or not we can make a strong brand. A strong brand means that the media has a fan base and its CPA (cost per acquisition) is low, and if this is solid, then it doesn’t matter whether the content is offered via a platform or via our own media.

Kamisaka continued:

Media is a collection of content. We have a commitment to creating an environment where it is possible to focus on creative pursuits. We aren’t just intermediaries matching creators with projects, but through evaluating creators, and paying attention to various results, we have been able to confirm that this is the correct direction to take. Recently, there have been various problems in the area of content, but in the end they’re likely to demand a way of work and manner of creation that is more productive.

Advertisers, the media, creators– with the power of technology is it possible to put them successfully on the cloud? It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda