Shufflr comes to the iPad, has big plans to make money

Shufflr debuted its iPad app Thursday, bringing its signature “Daily Fix” of personalized videos to the tablet device. The social video discovery service is plugging into Facebook and Twitter to compile a kind of personalized daily program for each and every user, hoping to take the pain out of video discovery.
I got a first demo of the new Shufflr iPad app a few weeks ago, and was able to play with it on my own iPad this week. I liked some of what I saw, but also thought that the range of options presented was a little overwhelming. But what’s perhaps most intriguing about Shufflr and its Bangalore-based parent company Althea Systems is their plan to turn the data gathered from your video views into an ad network.

Many different options

Shufflr has been around since 2010, and the company has been attacking video discovery with different angles ever since: First, it developed a set of Adobe Air-based apps that combined social discovery with channels from publishers, serving up videos from the New York Times or Boing Boing. The company then went on to serve up videos curated by celebrities and other taste makers, and now wants to make video discovery more of a lean-back experience with its Daily Fix.
This daily mix of relevant videos contains a limited number of clips that are trending locally and globally across social networks as well as clips shared by your friends and contacts. The concept is intriguing, but in reality, I found the experience lacked some relevance at times.
Shufflr also still offers access to all the things it has been doing before, serving up streams of socially curated videos curated by your friends, clips shared by celebrities as well as videos uncovered by channel and topic. The biggest problem I had with the app was that there are way too many different options. Do I want to watch my personalized Daily Fix, my social stream – or dive into related videos relevant to each and every clip surfaced by Shufflr? Sometimes, it’s hard to decide.

Video data to power ad platform

However, there’s a whole other side to Shufflr that’s kind of intriguing: The app is aggregating a whole lot of data, registering every time someone skips over a video or actively engages with it, and Althea Systems co-founder Rajnish R told me during a meeting a few weeks ago that it wants to monetize this data even beyond its own app.
A first step will be personalized advertising experience, with Shufflr running ads in-between the individual video clips and hopefully serving up ads that people enjoy. Rajnish told me that these kinds of in-session ads are going to come to Shufflr “very soon.”
But the company has much bigger ambitions than just to run some ads on its mobile clients. By aggregating the video viewing behaviours not only of its own users but also all of their contacts, it hopes to gather insights about the likes and dislikes of a much bigger target audience – insights that could be used to personalize ads on third-party apps as well.
In other words: Shufflr wants to use your daily fix of YouTube (s GOOG) videos to build an ad network that could extend far beyond its own platform. It’s an ambitious plan, admitted Rajish: “What we are up against is Facebook and Twitter.” However, there’s also something intriguing about it: TV has long been a centerpiece of ad campaigns. With online video, TV consumption and in turn ad preferences are finally becoming measurable down to the individual viewer. So why not use this kind of data to improve ads far beyond the TV screen?
Check out a few screenshots of the iPad app below: