To better understand content creation and where this industry is headed, we caught up with Shlomi Ben Atar, CMO of VFR.ai.
- How did you start in the world of content creation?
I always liked creating content. When I was 21 years old I studied acting and improvisation. I have also been an inveterate gamer since I was 8 years old.
I founded a startup called Moojis in 2015 that created emojis based on users’ faces. During that time, I heard from other CEOs that the gaming industry was booming. I thought to myself, “Do people make money from games?”
My first marketing campaign was with YouTubers when my startup wasn’t that popular yet, and that’s how I took Moojis to number one on various app stores.
I organized an esports league and the producer approached me with the idea of starting a gaming channel on YouTube. We partner up and the rest is history. Now I have 114 thousand subscribers, a podcast, several TV shows, and I am creating CTV video channels and games with VFR.
- How do you see the future of content creation? Any new trends we can hope to see emerge?
First, I feel like audiences today love authentic content. That’s why YouTube and TikTok, for example, get what a mainstream TV audience would be.
Second, speaking of television, streaming services like Netflix and Disney will have to learn how to create content cheaper and keep audiences engaged.
While people are still signing up for streaming services, stocks are falling for these companies. Content production is very expensive and subscription models do not show enough profit. These companies invest a lot of money in content because of the competition: Netflix no longer controls the market by itself like it used to. Plus, the downturn in the economy means people are starting to cut back on spending, so broadcasters have to roll out cheaper ad-supported models.
This results in more ads around the content. It’s good for us, bad for them.
A third trend to watch out for will be AI content generation. I’ve been playing with it lately, and it’s amazing what AI tools can do today, and this is just the beginning. I think AI will bridge the gap between low-budget content creators and big productions, and then the real content competition will begin.
- Can you tell us a bit about VFR and your current role in the company?
VFR creates content for connected TV platforms (Roku, Amazon Fire TV), and because we don’t want our ads to interfere with users’ experience, we built a non-intrusive ad player for monetization.
We started out creating casual and hyper-casual games, but quickly saw the potential for other content. For example, we created a children’s e-book channel called “Little Stories”.
We also saw the potential of working with content creators and creating a TV channel for their content, essentially giving them another source of income.
My current role at the company is CMO, and I really enjoy the challenge of reaching CTV viewers. CTV is a relatively new space for creators, publishers, and marketers. I love participating in content creation, being part of the creativity behind the ads.
- What is VFR’s role in the future of content creation?
VFR can help creators understand the world of connected TV and create a Roku or Amazon channel for them, depending on their brand. We can also create content for DTC brands that want representation on CTV.
I feel that television will continue to be the center of the house, especially now that the cinema is not as popular as before. VFR can be the link that connects brands, publishers and creators to this main screen of entertainment called TV.
- Why did you choose to promote VFR content specifically on the Roku CTV platform?
I always liked the respect that people give to this medium called TV. I think it’s a totally different approach to mobile. Screen real estate is huge, and suddenly the gap isn’t that big for creating TV content. It used to be just big productions, but now we also have games and YouTube-style content.
Roku specifically has 64 million monthly active users in the US alone. I think the potential here is huge. The development is quite comfortable and the market is young, so it is a great opportunity.
- What foreseeable strategies do you think will be effective in making content less intrusive and more valuable to CTV consumers?
I think platforms like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch can teach us exactly what people like and don’t like. We can take that data and quickly translate it into CTV content without the overhead of a big production. Traditional television production takes a lot of time and money to produce. Creating simpler content will be the way to go, or taking web content and putting it directly into a CTV channel.
By doing this, consumers will get eye-level content on their screens, advertisers will have the chance to showcase their brand in a less intrusive way, and casual gamers will be able to sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy a simple game of bingo at the end of your day. Parents can even take a break, with eBooks readily available as a replacement for their children’s bedtime stories.