Virool Raises $6 Million With Ambitions Of Being 'AdWords' For Video

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Alex Debelov viroolVideo promoter startup Virool has raised a $6 million first round to help it quickly expand internationally and fulfill co-founder and CEO Alex Debelov's plan to become the "Google AdWords" of video.

"We grew from 200 to over 30,000 advertisers in 8 months ,and are going to release our own viral video that 1 million people will see in the first 48 hours," Debelov said Thursday afternoon, around the time that the company's YouTube channel showed the tongue-in-cheek promo -- The Secret of All Viral Videos -- had garnered 22,000 views.

Despite the company's name being a play on the word "viral," Debelov said that he doesn't promise advertisers that Virool can automatically create the next viral sensation. Instead, for a minimum of $10, marketers can use the self-serve tool to connect to Virool's distribution system, which then promotes the video using tags and keywords.

"It'd be silly for us to say we can make any video go viral," Debelov said. "The idea behind virality is wrapped up with how good and relevant the content of the video is to an audience. We tell clients that if the work isn't good, there's nothing we can do. But we have helped videos with 100,000 videos explode to 5 million. But we can only help it find its audience, we can't magically make it happen. And given that there are roughly 1.5 million videos uploaded to YouTube every day, there's a lot of clutter and competition to capture users' attention."

The funding comes from investors including Dave McClure, DFJ, Yuri Milner, Menlo Ventures and others.

"The summer, we launched the self-serve platform and quickly found that this type of service is not limited to the U.S. clients, as we started being approached by marketers in Saudi Arabia and South Korea," Debelov said. "To us, that indicates there is a global draw to this business need. And in the next seven years, there will be one dominant company to market. Having the funding allows us to get to that point and allows us to take more risks along the way."

At the moment, video remains one of the fastest growing sources of display ad spending -- eMarketer pegged video’s growth rates as having risen 46.5% in 2012 -- and it's also one of the most fragmented. Perhaps for that end, Virool will concentrate on YouTube as its marketing focal point, as opposed to immediately exploring other channels like Twitter's ultra-short form user-gen video portal Vine.

"Focus is important to a young company like ours," he said. "YouTube has been a great platform and a great informal partner. So far, been happy with that platform. Maybe down the line, if there is a enough demand, we may consider other platforms. But right now, it's 99.9 percent focused on YouTube."

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