- Jellysmack, formerly Keli Network, has raised $14 million in Series A funding to invest in premium content and data-based technology.
- The company uses tools to search the internet for trending topics and then turns them into video series for social platforms.
- The New York-based firm has hired execs from Mashable Studios, Red Bull North America and Tumblr to ramp up its content output.
Facebook’s algorithm change has shrunk lots of publishers’ reach on the platform over the past year — but some digital-first media companies are still scoring millions of viral views.
Take two-year old Keli Network, which has secured $14 million in Series A funding and rebranded itself Jellysmack. This is not a company in the business of making expensive scripted series, celebrity-driven reality, slick news or talk shows.
Instead Jellysmack makes hit videos for Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube by digging through comments, reviews and tweets to find out what trends people are talking about and then turns them into series. Essentially, Jellysmack thinks it’s found a way to mash up data-backed insights with consistently popular video programming.
For example, after seeing that riddle books were top-sellers on Amazon, Jellysmack created a Facebook Watch show called “Riddle Me This” that now has 5.2 million followers and regularly cranks out videos that rack up more than one million views.
“We saw a lot of things around brain puzzles were trending and a lot of books on Amazon around riddles specifically were top-sellers so we realized that there was something here that we needed to start digging [into] — we tested a lot of different formats and one of our creators came up with this idea of taking riddles into motion design,” said CEO Michael Philippe.
In another example, Jellysmack noticed that a tweet during the World Cup showing a picture of the Japan team’s locker room started trendingon Twitter. So Jellysmack created a video for itsOh My Goal Page about Japanese culture tied to the news that has since amassed 11 million views on Facebook. Oh My Goal has more than 5.3 million followers.
Overall, Jellysmack’s videos reach 2.5 billion monthly views across Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram and target 170 million monthly users, the company said.
Zeroing in on vertical-oriented content is key
According to Philippe, focusing on vertical-oriented content is that “it’s much easier to drive engagement when you’re targeting a specific niche or category.”
“Starting with this soccer community, we created the playbook that we now use for all the different communities,” Philippe said. “We’re creating very engaged communities around people’s passions. The plan is to keep doing this with more verticals and channels and fuel those communities with premium content.”
With “Riddle Me This,” the show has anactive Facebook Groupof more than 88,000 fans that share riddles with each other and Jellysmack is also considering building a chatbot for the show that would give fans clues about the show.
And there’s also a show about beauty in the works that targets men.
“We’re trying to build shows where it’s not only about the shows itself but it’s a community where the show is just a small part of what it is really is,” Philippe said. “Having this vertical strategy is the only way to really do it.”
Jellysmack wants to invest in IP to make hit shows for media companies and brands
Highland Europe led Jellysmack’s funding, as well as Interplay Ventures, Partech Ventures and OneragTime.
Most of the funding will go to new content, building out Jellysmack’s production studios in Los Angeles and Paris and a string of new hires. Former Mashable Studios exec Eric Korsh is joining as head of studios. Brent Spitzer, formerly head of commercial at Red Bull North America, will oversee sales. And Amanda Ferri, who previously oversaw product marketing at Tumblr, is joining to head marketing.
The goal, Philippe said, is to build out franchises that are both digital and offline.
“We see ourselves at some point as an IP factory so being able to find shows, trends and translate that into successful shows,” he said. “If you look at a show like ‘Riddle Me This,’ it’s becoming a brand, so it’s possible that at some time, this brand might go offline — it could be events, TV, or books. We think having huge distribution on all social platforms helps us find the next big shows and brands in terms of content.”