Whip Media EVP: New Exchange Service Years in the Making

On May 25, enterprise software platform and entertainment data provider Whip Media Group unveiled its AI-powered content marketplace Exchange, connecting buyers and sellers using one centralised platform, streamlining the process of buying, selling and discovering content.

Sherry Brennan, EVP and GM of Whip Media Exchange, spoke with MESA about the platform’s launch, the data-heavy elements that make it unique, and how its acquisitions in recent years were paramount to getting Exchange off the ground.

MESA: What makes the Exchange unique, is there anything even comparable in the content marketplace space?

Brennan: First, Whip Media’s predictive data and modelling make us vastly different in terms of the assistance we offer to make smarter deals. And, secondly, our scale and existing relationships in the industry give us a unique perspective and the solutions architecture to support a more streamlined workflow than anybody else can provide.

The Exchange is the only platform bringing consumer insights and predictive analytics into the licensing decision-making process at scale, facilitating the discovery of content and creating efficiencies across the entire process. We already have several partners in the asset fulfilment space, for example, so we will be able to easily kick off fulfilment processing for clients who want us to do that. And, we know how to add new partners relatively quickly, since we already do that as part of our earlier business. We’re integral to so many aspects of the digital distribution ecosystem already, and the Exchange just adds to the value we bring to our customers.

MESA: How long has the Exchange been in the works? What were some of the technical hurdles Whip Media encountered along the way?

Brennan: We’ve had a vision for the Exchange for many years. Whip Media strategically acquired three companies: Mediamorph, TheTVDB, and TV Show Time, which made the launch of the Exchange a reality by providing the technology, work flows, user data and content metadata, as well as the deeply experienced teams that are crucial to our platform’s success.

Most of the technical hurdles were overcome by using existing architecture, expertise and workflow based on our existent businesses. That said, mapping client title databases to our insights database can be a challenge that involves human intervention but we are well situated to handle this type of work at volume.

MESA: Speak a bit more about the proprietary Demand Score, and everything that backs it up. How integral is it to the Exchange process?

Brennan: Each TV and film title in the Exchange is assigned a new, proprietary Demand Score using models that leverage Whip Media’s sentiment and engagement data as well as observed outcomes data and other information from third-party sources including client data when requested. The Demand Score is modelled based on consumer viewership and engagement insights from 16 million viewers in over 170 countries across 4.5 million movie and TV episodes on 1,100 global platforms. The Demand Score provides a decision-making framework to predict content performance, helping buyers and sellers identify the right content for the right audience and drive revenue.

The Demand Score essentially makes the Exchange into a personalised recommendation engine for content buyers and sellers. It helps buyers identify content to create or balance out their offerings, expand into new markets and increase user retention. For sellers, it helps them to identify the best content for existing partners, identify new partners in new territories, or generally optimise their distribution strategies.

Sellers can also quickly see whether content will perform better in an SVOD or AVOD environment, for example, and buyers can see whether high-priced content is expected to perform materially better than more mid-range priced titles.

MESA: During the beta testing process, what is Whip Media keeping an eye out for in terms of improvements and upgrades?

Brennan: Global licensing has become increasingly complex and while we have anticipated many of the needs of our customers, the beta period will help us refine the user experience and integrate that feedback from participants into the Exchange. We want to know where clients experience pain points, and how our tools can help overcome them. We’ve already begun designing a bundled content score, for example, as it quickly became clear that both buyers and sellers have a desire for this. We’re also hoping to learn what features clients want us to add to the Exchange as a result of our beta.

MESA: How quickly does Whip Media expect more content owners to get on board?

Brennan: We’re signing up new buyers and sellers constantly. By the end of 2021, we expect to have listings for thousands of content hours and by mid-2022 we’re on track to have hundreds of bona fide, recruited buyers and sellers on board.