2018, for me certainly, has been an immensely fast-moving year. We have again made huge strides in the platforms usability, safety and profitability, and time seems to fly past ever quicker. As for Videscape limited, we are entering our 4th year but ClickASnap itself will only just be entering its 3rd year in May 2019. Which for an online tech start up, particularly a revenue sharing one is a record, with only YouTube and Spotify lasting longer than us so far. I must admit, it’s frustrating how slowly we are growing. We do add on average 30 new members per day, and an average of 300 new photos per day, but this is a drop in the ocean compared to large platforms like Flickr, 500px and Instagram. The caveats of course to this are that Flickr is 14 years old and 500px is almost 10 years old so they have significant ground on us. However, I believe, as do many of our supporters and users that our platform offers far more value for money and has a significant USP lead on any other image hosting platform online today, we just need to persevere until we get to that tipping point, as is often the case; perseverance is the route to success.
We have tried, and to an extent succeeded, to balance growth and revenue together to reduce the need for external investment. Cash burn, particularly high cash burn with growth as a priority often results in bankruptcy for the company involved. You can’t build a stable company and be consistently reliant on funding rounds, plus, this sort of methodology tends to continuously dilute earlier shareholders, who, often, have been the ones taking the higher risk therefore deserve a higher return. Whilst this methodology has most certainly resulted in a smaller userbase given the time we have spent building the company, it does mean that we are not scrambling around, potentially desperately (as many start-ups are especially due to the FED draining liquidity at the moment) to maintain the platform.
The last few years have all been about developing our product, testing it, getting user feedback and redeveloping as required. 2019 onwards will be about marketing that product.
I hope you enjoy the report, and I look forward to a successful 2019
As I have mentioned previously in quarterly and site updates, we continuously invest in efficiencies and this year was no exception. We built and launched multiple world firsts as well as significant site improvements including
- WIPT image protection systems.
- Integrated social media systems for automated marketing
- Mobile usability. The platform is now entirely navigable on all smart phones
- Site speed. We reduced our data usage per page by circa 70%+
- Completely redesigned the product management area
- Introduced Image recognition technology and integrated this with on page SEO
- Developed a new method of image distribution to present images in higher quality than any other hosting site
- Brought in new image navigation technology to enable quicker browsing
- Added automatic email alerts for our Pro accounts
- Added a multitude of FED improvements for ease of use
- Developed and introduced the first self-contained Automated marketing system
2019 will see a slower but continued development process. The reason behind the slowdown is we are now in a fairly solid position to significantly increase our marketing budget. I believe we are on the cusp, or certainly past the stage where every £1 invested in advertising gives a positive return. This in turn will allow us to scale.
2018 saw the following:
- 434,088 users
- 6,037,996 images viewed
- An average session duration of 6:44 giving a total annual time spent on the platform of 1,819 days or almost 5 years of time spent viewing photos.
These numbers are lower than last year, however, this is due to significant work that’s been done on our bot blocking systems. Unfortunately, the internet is very much like the wild west and very few platforms are actively policed properly (Meta for example) This then gives people the opinion that they can just head to any platform, upload a load of rubbish and direct a load of bots to the page to try and make money and/or obtain views to falsely inflate their popularity. This has been a major contributory cause of many companies like ours folding, fortunately we recognised it and know what to do about it. As one of the major bot drivers last year was a system that could fake Meta traffic we can delve deeper into acquisition data and this gives a far better indicator as to how the platform is doing vs 2017:
- Direct traffic + 21.11%
- Referral traffic + 30.86%
- Organic search + 15.11%
These are very positive figures and certainly show us moving in the right direction, even without advertising. Which, to date is predominantly what our growth has been reliant on. We also introduced the Automated Marketing System in December and we are already seeing a significant uplift in traffic. As more and more people use this it will result in exponential growth as 1 person signs up to the platform and immediately, automatically, starts distributing their content 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Paid Acquisition strategies:
A major factor involved in the growth of internet companies is scalability. This is extremely difficult to do with solely advertising funded companies, primarily because the numbers need to be so big to make any semblance of decent revenue, which is why so much time and money has been, and will continue to be invested into our paid accounts, as the revenue from these are extremely important for our growth plan. We currently use two advertising campaigns on Google and Bing. Over the last 3 months we have achieved an average cost per acquisition of ~£0.72 per user. We will continue to work on bringing this down, however, optimising these campaigns is a long-term game.
- Revenue was up 1,200% yoy, 10% was attributable to advertising, the remaining was through paid subscriptions
- Total operating costs for the year were: £3,261 broken down into: £1,294 for servers, £1,343 for databases, £941 for data transfer and £338 for storage. These can all be reduced by circa 50-75% but currently it is not worth spending the capital to do so
- £102,000 was spent on capital costs 99% of which was software
- Significantly increase advertising spend, with the aim of 1M+ visitors by year end
- Continue to optimise and increase the efficiency of the platforms operating infrastructure
- Work on the Marketplace/user shops to make purchasing of products much simpler and further encourage sales of photos
- Further optimise our AMS
- Implement further revenue generation systems
- We will be allowing a further £25,000 of Series A shares for sale
Finally, thankyou to all of our excellent contributors, the quality of the content on ClickASnap still amazes me and it’s good to see the community continue to report poor quality, or unsuitable content on the platform.