As It Focuses On Content ID And Monetization, ZEFR Signs UMG, Sony Music, Ultra Music, And NASCAR

It’s been about nine months since Movieclips rebranded as ZEFR to provide content ID and monetization tools to publishers distributing or claiming their content on YouTube. Today, the startup is announcing its first big customers, signing up big-name music labels like UMG, Sony Music, and Ultra Music, as well as NASCAR.

For those who have forgotten, the ZEFR story goes like this: Once upon a time, there was a scrappy little startup called Movieclips. The startup, based in Los Angeles, was founded on the premise of licensing clips of movies and making them available through YouTube, allowing movie studios to monetize a vast quantity of long-tail content that was locked away in their vaults.

But that’s not all! Movieclips also built tools to help identify and monetize clips that fans had published. And it also determined best practices and created technology that would keep viewers engaged — like a post-roll video wall that displayed multiple related scenes that viewers could click through. It was an awesome use of technology, but Movieclips realized that it could use those same tools to help content providers in other segments — like music and sports — to cash in on the content they were making.

And so ZEFR was born. ZEFR was the rebranding of Movieclips, as the startup raised more money and started offering up content ID and monetization tools to others.

Now, after refining its technology and pitching to content owners across a wide range of verticals, it’s managed to get a number of major third-party content providers on board. The pitch is that ZEFR can not only find videos posted by users and help content owners monetize them, but it can also help them get the most out of their own channels as well.

For customers like NASCAR, that means using some of ZEFR’s homegrown channel management tools. For its Movieclips business, the startup used those tools to ensure best practices and improve search engine results, but stuff like the post-roll wall of videos can also keep viewers engaged with its customers’ content as well. For the music labels, partnering with ZEFR gives them the ability to let super-fans create and upload videos with their favorite artists, while also ensuring that the label (and the artist) get advertising revenue off those claimed videos.

Since being founded in 2009, ZEFR has raised nearly $30 million, which includes an $18.5 million round led by U.S. Venture Partners. Other investors include MK Capital, Shasta Ventures, SoftTech VC, First Round Capital, Richmond Park Partners, and Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise.