Life in Digital
In Life in Digital's latest episode, they spoke to Nick Morgan, CEO and Founder of Vudoo, the content transaction company and in-stream checkout pioneer.
Vudoo operates in the commerce media space. Its in-stream checkout technology facilitates purchases within content, meaning shoppers can buy items seamlessly at the moment of inspiration and media owners can retain audience engagement.
Vudoo’s DNA is video
Nick founded Vudoo in 2016 with the vision of creating a unique commerce media platform to make video content transactable. To reach this goal, Vudoo developed its product in distinct stages, though as Nick explains, video is intertwined with the company's DNA. Initially creating a base interactive video product with built-in behavioural analytics, Vudoo built out this prototype to incorporate its checkout function. “The objective of this prototype was to achieve something that hadn’t been done before – to enable a transaction to occur within a videoframe,” says Nick.
Since then, the product has expanded considerably. “Now we're working across all types of content and all types of devices, so the company has really come leaps and bounds. Vudoo is optimised across all ad formats; but we also work outside of ad formats. So we’re really a content transaction company, facilitating transactions in content, rather than just being defined by a particular segment.”
The retail media revolution – and the opportunities it has created
In the last few years, the growth of retail media has changed the face of advertising. “If you look at the speed that retail media has grown, it’s grown at the same speed if not faster than search did with Google and social did with Facebook”, says Nick.
“What's really interesting is the convergence of retail media and the big social platforms driving in-platform shopping, which is posing questions to retailers globally. And it's really about this business principle of closed loop attribution. Looking at the purchasing funnel, you've got the top of the funnel happening, you've got the bottom of the funnel happening. And then you have a transactable attribution there at the end as well. That's a really compelling offering. A lot of those advertisers are saying we love this, we want to get more of this. Where else can we get it?"
"Those questions are being pointed to us and to companies like us. And that's our opportunity to look at where premium content is being aggregated, where advertisers can drive that great return on ad spend via this principle of closed loop attribution."
How Vudoo's technology works
Vudoo is a SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform that allows customers to connect their instance of Vudoo to the dominant e-commerce stacks.. “They can then embed Vudoo’s product into any type of content, and then distribute that content. Wherever that content is then consumed by the audience, it allows for a shoppable experience,” explains Nick.
“Typically, if you click on a product in a piece of shoppable content, you get taken to another browser window to complete the transaction. With Vudoo, you stay in the browser window, in the same piece of content. A checkout slides up – it doesn’t matter the device or type of content – allowing you to checkout in real time and never having to leave the piece of content, which is an incredibly compelling proposition”.
Brands, publishers and agency partnerships
“Vudoo first started working with brands, but over the last two years, we’ve been working with a lot more publishers,” Nick goes on to explain. Vudoo currently works with major publishers in Australia and New Zealand and has more recently begun working with publishers in the UK and EMEA, with plans afoot to develop relationships with US based publishers.
“We've also just started working with agencies. This is a really interesting and exciting space for us – we know that the big holding group agencies have a challenge as well as an opportunity to bring a commerce media offering to market, and we’ve seen some acquisitions of late that demonstrate that.”
Vudoo’s biggest challenges
“When we first got started, we were another interactive video company, but that wasn’t our end game,” explains Nick. With the interactive video market already competitive, Vudoo faced the challenge of standing out from other offerings. But as Vudoo established itself, new obstacles have presented themselves.
"How we scale is one of the challenges we've got right now. We've had some big environmental challenges, the impacts which we've had to ride through, which are things only made us stronger. We've had record bankruptcies for startups in Australia," Nick points out.
"It's a very different market compared to three years ago. We fortunately have great customers and great proof points. We've got good revenue, and we have a line of sight on profitability.”
The real revenue drivers for content commerce
As Nick explains: “Premium publishers have been beaten around for 20 years or longer, and now they need to deal with large language models and content scraping. Margins are tight and teams are tight.”
Giving publishers the chance to retain control over their audience, rather than sending them away to advertisers’ sites when they make a purchase, is key to Vudoo’s appeal. “Vudoo is a new revenue channel, not only from an advertising perspective but it’s also an ecommerce channel. It represents a great opportunity for publishers to claw back some of that revenue sovereignty that has been pulled away from them over the last few years,” says Nick.
What’s in store for 2024?
Vudoo is looking to further grow its APAC and EMEA teams, and to break into the US market next year. Nick predicts, “What you’re going to find is there will be a separation between retail and commerce media – retail media will be governed by the retail media networks and on platform, and then there will be the off-platform play. We’ll see a lot more revenue and opportunities going towards off-platform commerce media.''