Consumers have got very used to receiving personalised emails from companies – offering them a special deal, say, urging them to renew a subscription, or just thanking them for their support. But what if you could send personalised videos to your customers in the same way – addressing them with a personal greeting from someone in your business, or a celebrity endorser or brand ambassador? That’s the technology now offered by Californian start-up Gan.ai, which is today announcing a $5.25 million seed funding round.
Founded in March 2021 by Suvrat Bhooshan, who had previously worked in Facebook’s artificial intelligence (AI) research team, Gan.ai has already signed up a string of blue-chip clients, ranging from mobile phone giants such as Samsung to consumer goods businesses like Mondelez, and even sports teams. “Personalisation and targeted outreach almost always improve conversion percentages, but there was no easy way to do it scalably with videos,” explains Bhooshan. “We set out to solve this problem.”
The technology may be sophisticated, but the idea is simple enough. Companies aiming to reach out to customers just have to record one video with the messaging they want to deliver. Gan.ai’s technology can then create personalised versions of that video for every customer that the company wants to contact; it replicates the voice of the person making the video and adjusts their lip movements in each version, so that what customers receive feels completely human. In each video, the company can address each customer by name and tweak other variables according to the purpose of the message.
Bhooshan says the impact of personalised video so far has been dramatic. Customers receiving a video are five times’ more likely to watch it to the end than those who receive a generic message, he claims. Conversion rates on campaigns can be up to 10 times higher. One Indian cricket team has even used the technology to send personalised videos from players to fans who comment on its Instagram feed, prompting tens of thousands of responses.
One early adopter of Gan.ai’s tools, the gaming platform Mobile Premier League, is certainly impressed. “We record videos with influencers and celebrities and now, with Gan.ai, they call out your name and give you a personalised call-to-action,” explains the Tejnoor Grover, a senior manager at the firm. “We saw a five times’ increase in our video completion rate, a three times’ increase in our open rates, and a 1.5 times’ increase in our click-through rate.”
Gan.ai believes its technology represents a significant advance in a fast-growing field. The global generative AI video market was worth around $470 million last year according to Grand View Research, but is expected to grow at an annualised rate of 20% between 2023 and 2030.
The competition is hotting up, but Bhooshan says Gan.ai is one of only a handful of companies that makes videos using real videos. If you want your CEO to front your video, its technology can make that happen; if you’ve hired a celebrity influence, that’s fine too. By contrast, rival and better-known companies including Synthesia and HourOne create avatars to front their videos – these are virtual humans, albeit often very convincing and impactful.
Gan.ai’s approach is demanding technically, says Bhooshan, but rewarding if you get it right. “It is a much harder problem to match the voice tonality and texture on either side so as to not appear edited, and similarly to change lip movements to match the new audio while keeping the rest of the video as is,” he explains. “People are very quick to notice changes so the bar for quality is much higher.”
The company’s monetisation strategy is to offer two versions of the product. Large enterprise customers looking for the highest-quality production values pay a premium price, while a cheaper self-serve option is aimed at smaller businesses who create the first video themselves with a web-cam. The service also comes with analytics tools to help customers assess the impact of their campaigns.
With new funding now available, Gan.ai hopes to accelerate its expansion, with its seed finance earmarked for an expansion of the engineering team and investment in its go-to-market activities. The $5.25 million round was led by Surge and Sequoia Capital India and Southeast Asia, with participation from Emergent Ventures and a number of angel investors.
The company has also won support from non-financial backers. It was named as one of the 200 technologies of the future at TechCrunch Disrupt 2022, and is a member of Stanford University’s StartX cohort for 2023.
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