An Ecosystem Is Born: Animoto Opens Up API

We’re big fans of Animoto, a website that lets you easily create photo and video slideshows matched to music. The site is constantly innovating its nifty product, most recently adding an iPhone app and the ability to incorporate video. For those not familiar with Animoto, the startup basically allows you to take your images, video and your music and mash them together to create cool videos. What makes the videos cool is the company’s technology that renders the pictures so they’re in-step with the music you’ve chosen, adding nice transition effects. This morning, Animoto is opening up its API, allowing partners to now incorporate Animoto’s compelling technologies into independent sites

The first API that being rolled out for the Animoto Partner Platform is Animoto Quickstart.  The API essentially allows any website to tap into Animoto’s video creation flow.  The aim is to make Animoto one click away from any website that has photos, videos or music.  Quickstart allows websites to connect their own content, including photos, video clips and music to Animoto as the first step in creating an Animoto video. So partners can integrate Animoto’s video slideshow creation tool into their sites. And the startup promises that Quickstart takes only hours to a partner to set up on a site.

For example, SmugMug, a photo sharing site that caters to professional photographers, uses Quickstart so users can ‘pass’ their photo albums into Animoto’s video creation flow. So the user now has the option of making a slideshow from their hosted photos and simply needs to pick a song to complete their Animoto video. Once a user clicks to make the slideshow, he or she will be taken to Animoto’s site, where their video and photos will automatically be placed into Animoto’s site.

Another use case is a promotion Animoto is launching with iconic musician John Bon Jovi where fans of Bon Jovi can go to Bonjovi’s site to create an Animoto music video with Bon Jovi’s latest single and footage from his music video.  Pepsi also used the Quickstart API to help users create video slideshows in a contest involving its ShareTheJoy campaign.

With the launch of this API at SXSW, Animoto is partnering with music publication SPIN magazine to allow fans to promote their favorite South by Southwest bands for a chance to win prizes.
From now until March 31, 2010, fans can create and submit Animoto videos featuring songs from top South by Southwest bands for a chance to win $1000 and a spot on, and other prizes.
Currently Animoto has 1.4 million users and makes money off of its paid subscriptions. On its site its free to create 30 second videos, but you need to pay $3 per video to make an lengthier slideshow. The site sells a year long subscription to users for $30. A large part of Animoto’s subscription business is composed of professional videographers and photographers who pay $250 per year to create their own branded videos that they can download, and burn to a CD (and the slideshow doesn’t bear the “Animoto” logo). Animoto’s CEO Brad Jefferson tells me that 10 percent of users, so 140,000 people, are have paid for at least one product on the site.The company is already cash-flow positive, which isn’t bad for a startup that’s less than three years old.

In terms of monetizing the API, Animoto isn’t charging any of its partners. In fact, it’s actually paying its partners in terms of affiliate fees. So if any partners lead new users to the site who end up buying a subscription, Animoto will give the partner a 40 percent cut of the first year’s consumer subscription fee or $50 of the first years pro subscription fee.

The Quickstart API seems to be the first of a few sets of APIs that will extend Animoto’s technology onto the other sites. It’s a smart move. While many photo sharing sites have the ability to make slideshows, the technology is not nearly as fun and easy to use as Animoto’s. And Animoto is undoubtedly a compelling tool for an brand marketer to use for a campaign. Frankly, the possibilities are endless because Animoto is such an easy tool to use.