5min Enters Web Content Distribution

Is the next big thing on the Web a video content syndication strategy that slices audiences across sites according to niche interests and sells advertising targeting these niches?

How-to online video provider 5min thinks so. Started as a classic destination Web site last year, it has in recent months quietly entered the content distribution game by syndicating its video content to text-focused sites, such as general information destinations Answers.com and wikiHow.com, as well as enthusiasts sites like BackyardGardener.com.

“We are looking to be a new media version of cable channels,” says CEO Ran Harnevo, highlighting that it would cost loads of marketing money to make every Web surfer with a specific need aware of 5min.com. Instead, the privately-held company is looking to broaden its reach further by bringing contextually-relevant content to users wherever they may be.

5min has in recent months signed syndication deals with sites reaching more than 110 million unique users. Via its VideoSeed platform, it can provide its how-to video content by semantically matching it to relevant, on-topic partner sites and offer it up via its proprietary SmartPlayer. Unlike YouTube and others, the company tags videos and provides metadata itself rather than leaving such tasks to users.

5min’s videos are produced by the likes of NBC Universal, Hachette (publisher of such magazines as Elle and Car & Driver), Ford Models and Kiplinger’s. It also syndicates user-generated content. VideoSeed, for example, allows any site about or featuring an article about personal finance to serve Kiplinger’s videos, while auto sites could get video from Car & Driver.

At the same time, it allows 5min to sell ads on specialized channels built around specific topics. “In the (economic) downturn, advertisers will likely become even pickier,” says Harnevo. „They want a good return on investments.”

Marketers could buy pre-roll or post-roll ads, product integration and sponsorships for, say, all of 5min’s drinks-related content across its partner sites or even more specifically for vodka-related content.

5min, founded in Tel Aviv and now based in New York, has received early stage funding from venture firm Spark Capital. Its competitors include DIY Network, VideoJug and Howcast – all destination sites.