AWS Startups Blog

PromoMii: Video Ads Powered by AWS Machine Learning

Guest post by Nikhil Dinesh Head of Startup Business Development, DACH and Ken Shek, Senior ML Specialist Solutions Architect, AWS

Creating a movie trailer takes time, and most broadcasters and streaming platforms don’t have enough resources to do it. Their creative team, responsible for putting together promotional material for digital and social media, spends very little time being creative. To produce a 30” rough edit for a 10-movie stunt is about 5 days of viewing and logging. They also use and manage external agencies, leading to bottlenecks where one department’s output is heavily prioritized over another’s. The whole process is onerous, time consuming, and inefficient.

PromoMii, a UK startup, solves this problem with a unique blend of domain expertise and machine learning (ML). Their product Nova provides functionality to search for scenes or specific dialogues across their library. Productivity is supercharged with template queries, enabling creatives to finish their spot in minutes in terms of days. Nordic Entertainment Group, one of PromoMii’s customers, found that it was 10 times cheaper and 20 times faster to create trailers with Nova. A promotion which would usually take two days to produce was completed within 2 hours.

This blog post is the first in a series of startup ML stories, where we tell stories like PromoMii’s in terms of three crucial ingredients to building a successful business with ML – team, product, and partnership.

The Team

PromoMii was founded by two Danes from Copenhagen to help large broadcasters promote their shows. Over time and working backwards from their customers, the company pivoted toward using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enable creatives to be creative. The technological challenge inspired Tigran Mnatskanyan, CTO, to join PromoMii with a mission of building a great engineering team and crafting the content creation platform of the future.

In terms of domain expertise, PromoMii’s Chairman is Lester Mordue, an award-winning creative director bringing experience from MTV, Sky, Disney, and Discovery. As a creative himself, Lester immediately saw the benefits of Nova and is in a unique position to open doors for the business and provide guidance on product-market fit. “In my career, I’ve sat in boardrooms looking at tech and marketing ROI as well as sitting in edit suites looking for inspiration and story hooks,” said Lester. “Viewers enjoy on-demand services and streaming platforms, and so too should marketeers who help make viewing decisions. As someone who has spent their life working on TV brands and marketing, PromoMii’s Nova product will dramatically reduce cost, give viewers more choices and set the creatives free.”

Lilian Schiffler, PromoMii’s Creative Director, brings over 10 years of experience in media campaign production, video editing, and art direction. She was one of PromoMii’s first clients and brings a unique blend of passion for AI combined with domain expertise. “I found the idea of including AI in promo making extremely exciting.  There are certain aspects of the promo making process that can be time consuming, and developing an AI based solution to help speed these up is a logical step,” said Lillian. “I truly believe that AI will be a big part of the entertainment business, so it was an easy decision for me to join PromoMii and be a pioneer in this field.”

The Product

The following clip shows a trailer generated using Nova for the Affair, Season 1 Episodes 1, 2, and 3:

To enable rapid creation of such trailers, PromoMii’s product (Nova) embeds Lilian’s expertise on scene selection into Amazon Rekognition via Custom Labels. Creatives are rapidly able to find scenes with certain celebrities, emotional characteristics (e.g., romance, sadness), and shot types (e.g., wide shot, over-the-shoulder shot). A set of labels and template queries are provided out of the box but can be extended by customers with a review process powered by Amazon Augmented AI.

The following diagram illustrates the platforms analysis and generation process in Nova. The platform takes advantage of a serverless architecture where it eliminates the operational and maintenance cost. The architecture uses various AWS services.

To serve static assets such as JavaScript, CSS, images, and videos, Nova leverages Amazon CloudFront CDN, which allows PromoMii to reach their clients globally and optimizes for viewing experience by caching contents at various edge locations which are closer to our clients.

Amazon Cognito is the service of choice to for the user management system as it provides an easy and secure way for to manage sign-in, sign-up, and access control. Amazon API Gateway is used to create RESTful APIs to enable real-time two-way communication between our web application and the backend services and expose functionalities such as uploading contents, analysis, trailer generation, and content searching. Nova provides a secure communication channel by authenticating each HTTPS request with a secure, time-bounded credential issued by Amazon Cognito service when a user signs in to our platform.

The backend uses a number of AWS AI/ML services including Amazon Rekognition, Amazon Comprehend, and Amazon Transcribe to gain insights of the video content, AWS Step Functions to orchestrate the workflow, and AWS Elemental MediaConvert to transcode and create proxy assets. Nova then applies PromoMii’s patent-pending technology (secret sauce) to identify areas of interest and footage that can then be used to create trailers, promotes, short form video clips based on different business requirements.

Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), a pub/sub messaging service serves as a glue that chains several actions (workflows) together in a reactive, asynchronized fashion.

PromoMii has a blended approach leveraging AWS AI capabilities as well as their own proprietary AI models for specifically tailored use cases. The effective blend increases agility in delivering new features for users faster, and also enables an increased focus on business value without spending much time on infrastructure support.

Partnership with AWS

At AWS, we learn from our customers and PromoMii has been pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with services like Amazon Rekognition. PromoMii have been working closely with the AWS ML specialists, comprised of Solutions Architects, Business Development Managers and Rekognition experts with a strong focus on Rekognition Video and Custom Labels. AWS enables startups to grow their business not only with technology but also with our connections to investors, go-to-market opportunities via the AWS Partner Network, and introductions to potential customers.

“It is an absolutely great experience working with the AWS team and discussing technology and ways of developing certain things in frequent meetings. Suddenly it feels like working in one team, rather than thinking about AWS as a cloud provider. For a fast-moving startup, where things are changing quite often, AWS’ support is much more than just infrastructure, it’s a lot of expertise, constant feedback, and that much needed reassurance.”  says Tigran Mnatsakanyan, CTO and co-founder of PromoMii.

“There is a growing demand for more content without raising the budget accordingly. Working closely with solution architects from AWS helped us to develop and deploy our technology faster to growing demand from the market. What would have taken us weeks to explore is now a matter of days or even hours to get sorted. Editing trailers is one of the most time consuming and expensive aspects of the promotion of movies or series because it, to a large extent, is purely manual labour. We solve this and at the same time offer the opportunity to create much more personalized trailers with significantly more impact,” says Michael Moss, CEO and founder of PromoMii.