Whiz Tech­nolo­gies brings in­no­va­tion for Mo­bile, OTT Video and Ama­zon Echo

Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - News - ▶ BY CHRIS LYTIKAINEN SO­CIAL ME­DIA EDI­TOR

Mo­bile news is the fu­ture, whether we like it or not. New ways to read, hear and uti­lize me­dia are be­ing carved into the con­sumer land­scape. App de­vel­op­ers have con­trib­uted greatly to this, de­vel­op­ing use­ful tools for pub­lish­ers and con­sumers al­low­ing for more con­trol of their me­dia ex­pe­ri­ence.

Com­pa­nies like Whiz Tech­nolo­gies have stepped in to fa­cil­i­tate the need for easy to ac­cess dig­i­tal and video con­tent, es­pe­cially for me­dia com­pany heavy hit­ters such as Schurz Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Dis­patch Dig­i­tal, Cordillera Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Evening Post In­dus­tries, Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette and NPG (News-Press & Gazette Com­pany).

Personalization

Nikhil Modi, CEO of Whiz Tech­nolo­gies re­cently spoke with News & Tech about the com­pany’s plat­form for app de­vel­op­ment and why he thinks so many have cho­sen Whiz to give them the tools to reach a wider au­di­ence.

“They choose us be­cause our Me­di­aFlow plat­form pro­vides all the dig­i­tal touch points to the con­sumer, in­clud­ing mo­bile, OTT and in­ter­ac­tive voice. We re­al­ize that one size does not fit all and will cus­tom­ize the plat­form it­self for the specifics they re­quire or need,” Modi said.

This in­di­vid­u­al­ity of­fers more var­ied fea­tures and de­signs for com­pa­nies—al­low­ing them to stand out among an ocean of me­dia on the in­ter­net.

“One of the unique fea­tures we have re­cently in­tro­duced is ‘Personalization’, wherein the user of the de­vice per­son­al­izes the news that they want to con­sume and only news sto­ries from sec­tions of their in­ter­est will flow into their ‘ Time­line’,” Modi said. “We pro­vide mul­ti­ple touch con­trols to in­ter­act with the apps. The user ex­pe­ri­ence is val­ued the most, so we try to make op­tions avail­able.”

Whiz also of­fers a back­ground re­fresh that works with reader habits.

“If you con­stantly check the app at noon, it will learn to wake up in the back­ground a few min­utes be­fore noon, au­to­mat­i­cally re­fresh the sto­ries and page be­fore you visit the app pro­vid­ing for an in­stant-on ex­pe­ri­ence,” Modi said.

Whiz is all about choice and user ex­pe­ri­ence, which is why many or­ga­ni­za­tions have part­nered with the com­pany.

Large cus­tomiza­tion with vi­su­als is also avail­able with Whiz. The an­i­ma­tions that ap­pear and how they ap­pear, the style and lay­out of the app or con­tent, as well as the ty­pog­ra­phy used.

Chal­lenges as op­por­tu­ni­ties

Modi doesn’t see any of this work as a chal­leng­ing ob­sta­cle though.

“I wouldn’t say there are chal­lenges,” Modi said. “I find it fun. It is just a new puz­zle to fig­ure out and push for­ward.”

The com­pany also en­ables ev­ery­thing to come with mon­e­ti­za­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties, whether that be through ad­ver­tise­ments, deals or sub­scrip­tions.

“The dig­i­tal land­scape is chang­ing rapidly. Ama­zon, Ap­ple and An­droid are all chang­ing rapidly and on the fly,” said Modi. “So, if any­thing the chal­lenge is that tech­nolo­gies need to be de­vel­oped in tune with the changes.”

LiveFrame for OTT

Whiz also of­fers plat­forms for video dis­tri­bu­tion and mon­e­ti­za­tion us­ing Over The Top (OTT) apps like Ap­ple TV, Roku TV and Ama­zon Fire TV. One of the ways Whiz is in­no­vat­ing and adapt­ing is a prod­uct called ‘LiveFrame’. The prod­uct al­lows for pub­lish­ers, lo­cal me­dia, and peo­ple to con­nect in a mul­ti­tude of ways. The prod­uct al­lows ac­cess to 24/7 lin­ear con­tent, breaking news, weather, ad­ver­tis­ing and more in a sin­gle video view.

“Mil­len­ni­als want to con­sume con­tent in var­i­ous for­mats that are eas­ier for them, it could be mo­bile de­vices, video TV de­vices, in­ter­ac­tive au­dio de­vices like Ama­zon Echo as well as Mes­sen­ger Bots.” Modi said. “We want to en­able the con­sumer to make the choices and al­low for lo­cal me­dia to fa­cil­i­tate th­ese choices. Fur­ther, our mo­bile prod­ucts al­low for user gen­er­ated con­tent, that can be cu­rated by the pub­lisher.”

The prod­uct will al­low for user gen­er­ated con­tent or UGC. For ex­am­ple a user can take a video of a traf­fic jam or ac­ci­dent and sub­mit it to the news provider who can then cu­rate this user gen­er­ated video for use for the news.

Evening Post uses Whiz

The Evening Post Pub­lish­ing Group has been us­ing the Whiz plat­form for mo­bile, OTT and video.

“Whiz hosts our apps for Post and Courier, Aiken Stan­dard, Free Times and South Strand News,” said Kurt Knapek, di­rec­tor of au­di­ence and dig­i­tal me­dia at The Evening Post Pub­lish­ing Group. “They also have our OTT app for TV as well. Nikhil and his team are fan­tas­tic. I tell peo­ple he is our best ven­dor part­ner for a num­ber of rea­sons. They are open to any idea and of­ten bring them to us.”

Whiz is also de­vel­op­ing prod­ucts for Ama­zon’s Echo Alexa with the same fea­tures and sat­is­fac­tion of mo­bile news and perks of the OTT stream­ing ser­vice. Users can get au­dio alerts on their news sto­ries as well as traf­fic, weather, and daily brief­ings. Alexa of­fers sum­maries but users can also have con­ver­sa­tions with Alexa to an­swer daily ques­tions, and this is where Whiz is see­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­prove for the fu­ture.

“I re­ally like that Whiz is cus­tom­iz­a­ble and they work with us, and what we want,” said Knapek. “It is what makes it such a great re­la­tion­ship. They have al­ways been avail­able if we have ever needed to con­tact them as well.” In re­gards to the ser­vice, Knapek en­joys what Whiz is of­fer­ing.

“The apps vis­ually are just much better, the abil­ity for na­tive ads, ad place­ment, and time­line views for the app are great,” Knapek said, “Even look­ing for­ward we are con­sid­er­ing ways to in­clude more long­form jour­nal­ism, as it has a dif­fer­ent pre­sen­ta­tion.”

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