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An introduction to Google Ads Video Ad Sequencing (VAS)

November 27, 2019 No Comments

Video Ad Sequencing (VAS) is a recent addition to the Google Ads video campaign types that allows advertisers to, “…tell your product or brand story by showing people a series of videos in the order that you define.” But it is really a lot more.

Video Ad Sequencing can be used to take your target audience on a video journey based upon, to a limited extent, their behavior. By telling a story VAS lets you drive deeper awareness, engagement, and consideration.

Examples of Video Sequencing usage

Let’s say you want to let people know about “Five key elements of your product” and why it makes you better than the competition. With VAS, you can effectively ensure that potential customers see each video, in a set sequence.

We used VAS with one of our clients which had one long-form video that was just too long to capture the short attention span of users on YouTube. So, instead, we split the ad into five short vignettes, each with a quick intro and value-prop within the first five seconds (which is the non-skippable length of a video ad) to ensure our message got out before a user could skip the full 30-second video. We then set up a VAS campaign that would show these ads, in sequence, so that users would see the full story and all of the value that the product could offer.

What’s great about VAS is that you can go beyond a flat sequence and actually vary the content a user sees, depending on how they interact with each video in the sequence. For example, let’s say a user skips your first ad, rather than having them continue through your sequence, you can say, show them an alternate video outside of your sequence. If they skip that too, then you drop them entirely out of the sequence.

Another potential usage of Video Ad Sequencing

Another potential usage of Video Ad Sequencing is rewarding users for watching your content or calling out when they skip your videos. You can show videos to users that skipped your prior videos in sequence, meaning you can show them alternate content such as alternate value propositions, drop them out of the sequence, or even directly address with the audience that they skipped your prior video but you still really think your product is right for them. Alternatively, if a user views your first video, you can put them into a sequence with longer-form content for the second video, effectively creating exclusive content that only those viewers get to see.

Things you must know

The settings allow for you to dictate what content a user sees after they see an ad (impression) without watching, viewed an ad (watch the full video if shorter than 30-seconds or at least 30-seconds if the video is longer), or skipped an ad.

What you end up with is a flow like this

Video Ad Sequencing example on YouTube

 

If you are looking to try out video ad sequencing keep this in mind – you are limited to target CPM or Maximum CPV bidding and you cannot target by content.

This means no specific placements, topics, or keywords (you can exclude them though). You can really only target them by demographics and target audiences. YouTube does not currently allow custom affinity or custom intent audiences so you are stuck with life events or In-Market Audiences. Google recommends testing sequencing alongside brand lift studies, which basically means: “This campaign can spend a lot if you let it.”

Available bid strategies

  • Target CPM (Recommended by Google)
    • With Target CPM, we optimize bids to show your entire sequence campaign to your audience, which can help you get a higher sequence completion rate.
  • Maximum CPV

Ad formats include the following

  •  Skippable in-stream ads
  •  Non-skippable in-stream ads
  •  Bumper ads
  •  A combination of the above

The bid strategy you select also dictates the ad formats you can use

Bidding type                                             Available formats

Target CPM (tCPM)                                  Skippable in-stream ads

Non-skippable in-stream ads

Bumper ads

A combination of the above

Maximum CPV (CPV)                              Skippable in-stream ads

Source: Google

I would also strongly recommend mapping out your sequence before-hand. Every step of a sequence is set as a new ad group in the campaign, so it can get big and messy quite quickly.

It’s also good to know how you want to deal with the different interactions at different steps in the sequence. Just because a user skips one video, doesn’t mean they won’t watch another and get back into sequence. But similarly, if a user skips your video(s), do you really want to keep showing them ads in the sequence they care nothing about? Maybe at that point, you show them a totally unrelated tried-and-true video and then drop them out of the sequence.

My testing with Video Ad Sequencing so far has been limited, but I am very excited about the opportunity to keep working with several of our larger clients on sequencing. It is a really powerful tool that Google has shown can grow brand awareness and consideration.

Next, I’ll have a guide for setting up your first video ad sequence should you still need help.

The post An introduction to Google Ads Video Ad Sequencing (VAS) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Instagram founders join $30M raise for Loom work video messenger

November 26, 2019 No Comments

Why are we all trapped in enterprise chat apps if we talk 6X faster than we type, and our brain processes visual info 60,000X faster than text? Thanks to Instagram, we’re not as camera-shy anymore. And everyone’s trying to remain in flow instead of being distracted by multi-tasking.

That’s why now is the time for Loom. It’s an enterprise collaboration video messaging service that lets you send quick clips of yourself so you can get your point across and get back to work. Talk through a problem, explain your solution, or narrate a screenshare. Some engineering hocus pocus sees videos start uploading before you finish recording so you can share instantly viewable links as soon as you’re done.

“What we felt was that more visual communication could be translated into the workplace and deliver disproportionate value” co-founder and CEO Joe Thomas tells me. He actually conducted our whole interview over Loom, responding to emailed questions with video clips.

Launched in 2016, Loom is finally hitting its growth spurt. It’s up from 1.1 million users and 18,000 companies in February to 1.8 million people at 50,000 businesses sharing 15 million minutes of Loom videos per month. Remote workers are especially keen on Loom since it gives them face-to-face time with colleagues without the annoyance of scheduling synchronous video calls. “80% of our professional power users had primarily said that they were communicating with people that they didn’t share office space with” Thomas notes.

A smart product, swift traction, and a shot at riding the consumerization of enterprise trend has secured Loom a $ 30 million Series B. The round that’s being announced later today was led by prestigious SAAS investor Sequoia and joined by Kleiner Perkins, Figma CEO Dylan Field, Front CEO Mathilde Collin, and Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.

“At Instagram, one of the biggest things we did was focus on extreme performance and extreme ease of use and that meant optimizing every screen, doing really creative things about when we started uploading, optimizing everything from video codec to networking” Krieger says. “Since then I feel like some products have managed to try to capture some of that but few as much as Loom did. When I first used Loom I turned to Kevin who was my Instagram co-founder and said, ‘oh my god, how did they do that? This feels impossibly fast.’”

Systrom concurs about the similarities, saying “I’m most excited because I see how they’re tackling the problem of visual communication in the same way that we tried to tackle that at Instagram.” Loom is looking to double-down there, potentially adding the ability to Like and follow videos from your favorite productivity gurus or sharpest co-workers.

Loom is also prepping some of its most requested features. The startup is launching an iOS app next month with Android coming the first half of 2020, improving its video editor with blurring for hiding your bad hair day and stitching to connect multiple takes. New branding options will help external sales pitches and presentations look right. What I’m most excited for is transcription, which is also slated for the first half of next year through a partnership with another provider, so you can skim or search a Loom. Sometimes even watching at 2X speed is too slow.

But the point of raising a massive $ 30 million Series B just a year after Loom’s $ 11 million Kleiner-led Series A is to nail the enterprise product and sales process. To date, Loom has focused on a bottom-up distribution strategy similar to Dropbox. It tries to get so many individual employees to use Loom that it becomes a team’s default collaboration software. Now it needs to grow up so it can offer the security and permissions features IT managers demand. Loom for teams is rolling out in beta access this year before officially launching in early 2020.

Loom’s bid to become essential to the enterprise, though, is its team video library. This will let employees organize their Looms into folders of a knowledge base so they can explain something once on camera, and everyone else can watch whenever they need to learn that skill. No more redundant one-off messages begging for a team’s best employees to stop and re-teach something. The Loom dashboard offers analytics on who’s actually watching your videos. And integration directly into popular enterprise software suites will let recipients watch without stopping what they’re doing.

To build out these features Loom has already grown to a headcount of 45. It’s also hired away former head of growth at Dropbox Nicole Obst, head of design for Slack Joshua Goldenberg, and VP of commercial product strategy for Intercom Matt Hodges.

Still, the elephants in the room remain Slack and Microsoft Teams. Right now, they’re mainly focused on text messaging with some additional screensharing and video chat integrations. They’re not building Loom-style asynchronous video messaging…yet. “We want to be clear about the fact that we don’t think we’re in competition with Slack or Microsoft Teams at all. We are a complementary tool to chat” Thomas insists. But given the similar productivity and communication ethos, those incumbents could certainly opt to compete. Slack already has 12 million daily users it could provide with video tools.

Loom co-founder and CEO Joe Thomas

Hodges, Loom’s head of marketing, tells me “I agree Slack and Microsoft could choose to get into this territory, but what’s the opportunity cost for them in doing so? It’s the classic build vs. buy vs. integrate argument.” Slack bought screensharing tool Screenhero, but partners with Zoom and Google for video chat. Loom will focus on being easily integratable so it can plug into would-be competitors. And Hodges notes that “Delivering asynchronous video recording and sharing at scale is non-trivial. Loom holds a patent on its streaming, transcoding, and storage technology, which has proven to provide a competitive advantage to this day.”

The tea leaves point to video invading more and more of our communication, so I expect rival startups and features to Loom will crop up. Vidyard and Wistia’s Soapbox are already pushing into the space. As long as it has the head start, Loom needs to move as fast as it can. “It’s really hard to maintain focus to deliver on the core product experience that we set out to deliver versus spreading ourselves too thin. And this is absolutely critical” Thomas tells me.

One thing that could set Loom apart? A commitment to financial fundamentals. “When you grow really fast, you can sometimes lose sight of what is the core reason for a business entity to exist, which is to become profitable. . . Even in a really bold market where cash can be cheap, we’re trying to keep profitability at the top of our minds.”


Enterprise – TechCrunch


[Hero Academy Video] What You Need to Know About Naming Conventions

October 16, 2019 No Comments

In this new, short video on Hero Academy Hanapin’s Senior Project Manager, Lauren Rosner, will further explain why naming conventions matter and break down some of the best ways to set it up.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Video ad company Eyeview names Rob Deichert as its new CEO

September 18, 2019 No Comments

After 13 years at the helm of video advertising company Eyeview, founder Oren Harnevo is stepping down as CEO.

The company’s new chief executive is Rob Deichert, who was most recently COO at digital advertising company 33Across. The company is also announcing two other new hires — Sean Simon as senior vice president of sales and Risa Crandell as vice president of sales.

Harnevo, meanwhile, will remain on Eyeview’s board of directors.

“It’s been a long and incredible ride for the last 13 years since I co-founded Eyeview, and I feel it’s time to let a new leader help propel Eyeview to its next chapter,” he said in a statement. “2019 has been a great year for Eyeview. With strong revenue growth, and seasoned additions to our leadership team, it’s the perfect time to bring on [ad] industry veterans like Rob, Sean and Risa to accelerate our business as I depart to work on my next venture while supporting Eyeview on the board of director.”

Deichert acknowledged that it can be challenging to step into the shoes of a company’s founder, but he said he consulted with Harnevo before taking the job.

“I was just emailing with him today,” he added. “He’s going to be a great partner going forward.”

Rob Deichert

Rob Deichert

Deichert also said he has a standard on-boarding process when he joins a new company, which involves holding 30-minute, one-on-one meetings with every single person. (In this case, that means holding nearly 100 meetings.)

And while Eyeview has been around for more than a decade, Deichert suggested that there’s still plenty of room for its “outcome-based video marketing” (its specialty is video ads that are personalized based on viewer data) to grow.

In particular, he predicted that as direct-to-consumer brands are “maxing out on Facebook,” they’ll start turning back to traditional ad channels like television. With Eyeview, they can do that without losing the measurement and customization of online video.


Startups – TechCrunch


[Hero Academy Video] How to Turn Ad Copy Brainstorming Into a Science

September 4, 2019 No Comments

In this new, short video on Hero Academy, the Senior Manager of Global Engagement and popular industry speaker , Purna Virji, will lay out a 3 step process that will help you come up with copy that will better resonate with your audiences and thus, be more effective for your campaigns.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


How to optimize your video marketing strategy on YouTube

September 1, 2019 No Comments

You need to up your YouTube optimization game when you’ve got awesome video content but poor traffic.

In case you haven’t heard, video marketing has been experiencing a near-meteoric rise over the last few years. Online video has now overtaken television as the preferred medium for watching videos, while around five billion videos are watched on YouTube each day.

It’s important to note that simply having great content isn’t enough. To make sure your videos are seen by more people and easy to discover, you have to optimize them.

This is where SEO comes in. The good news is that YouTube is already the second biggest search engine in the world, which means you can be sure that your audience will find you if you do the right things.

In this article, we’re going to give you some of our tried and tested tips on how to optimize your video marketing strategy on YouTube.

Title your video with keywords

Your title is essentially what makes people want to click your video. It has to be brief, direct, compelling and it has to let your viewers know exactly what the video is all about.

For example: “How To Create Affirmations” as seen in the video below.

YouTube SEO - Add keywords in title

To fully optimize your video so that both your audience and the YouTube SEO algorithm knows what it’s all about, you need to add keywords.

Finding the right keywords for your video is pretty easy. Begin by typing a title you have in mind, for example, “How to design a logo” – into the search bar, before taking advantage of the auto-complete feature. Basically, YouTube suggests results that are the most popular search queries based on your keyword. Use the keywords that the search bar brings up and incorporate them into your title – without overloading the title.

YouTube SEO - YouTube's keyword suggestions

Nail the description

While it’s totally okay to add keywords to your description, Backlinko actually did some research on this and found that there is no correlation between keyword-rich descriptions and the rankings for that particular term.

This is interesting stuff, but you still need to optimize your description for SEO purposes regardless. Add your main keywords to your description and try to get them in as early and as much as reasonably possible.

Because YouTube caps your text at 1,000 characters, you don’t want to be too wordy. Remember, folks are here to watch videos and not read a story. Keep your description concise, clear and compelling enough so that it encourages users to press play.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that only the first three lines are displayed before someone has to click “see more” to see the rest of the text. As such, it’s good practice to get your key info into the first two to three lines, such as links to your product pages, landing page, your “subscribe” link, or even your CTA.

This is what Brave Wilderness do all the time:

YouTube SEO - Adding video descriptions

Optimize your tags

Tags help to make your video more discoverable to people. With tags, you’re informing your viewers what your video is about, and you’re also giving stronger clues to YouTube. Essentially, tags help YouTube understand both the context and content of a video so that it becomes associated with similar videos. This increases your reach.

To that end, take your time picking the right tags. While you might think it’s a good idea to choose popular tags that will land you more views, you might get reported for spam if you keep picking irrelevant tags. And once you’ve been reported for spam a few times, Google will probably penalize you.

Keep your tags relevant, use keywords and find as many as you can that work, keeping in mind that these keywords will pull in the right audience.

Add your keyword to your video file

When we upload our videos to YouTube, it’s very easy to overlook the name of the video file itself. Usually, a video file has an impersonal name, such as mov002.avi. That doesn’t even give us the slightest clue as to what the video is about!

To help the YouTube algorithm out a little, rename your video file to your main keyword.

For example:

how_to_survive_a_hurriance.mp4

Remember that YouTube’s algorithm can’t take a peek inside your video to find out what it’s all about. An optimized video file gives it a bigger clue and will help you to rank better.

Choose a category

Picking a category for your video sounds simple enough, but unless you take the time to do this properly you might end up picking a category that just doesn’t help you rank at all.

There are a few factors you need to bear in mind when choosing a category:

Who’s creating the best content in this category and what does it look like?

Do the audiences for popular channels in this category match yours?

What is the general format, length and overall production value of the best videos in this category?

For example, if you choose a category that’s related to your niche, but which is filled with content that’s got different production values to yours, you’ll lose out. Find a category that really suits your style, content, and audience, and do some thorough research before settling on one.

Add an eye-catching thumbnail

Bland thumbnails that literally discourage us from watching a video will kill your SEO efforts. It’s the same if a thumbnail appears to be unrelated to the content.

A killer thumbnail needs to be so eye-catching that a user can’t do anything else but click the video.

The best videos have customized thumbnails.

If you take a look at a selection of Brave Wilderness’ thumbnails below, you can see that each one has been customized. They’ve added their logo to the top right of each thumbnail, and they’ve added funky speech bubbles and colorful graphics to jazz their thumbnails up.

YouTube SEO - Adding thumbnails

If you think this type of thing is beyond you, there are plenty of tools to help you out. Design Wizard, for example, helps you to redesign – and crucially resize – your images, while Pik Wizard is stuffed with lots of professional images that will ensure your thumbnails stand out.

Conclusion

All in all, YouTube SEO isn’t rocket science and there’s no need to let it take away from your enjoyment of making videos. As long as you produce great video content and follow our guidelines in this article, there’s every chance that your video marketing campaign will start working its magic for you.

The post How to optimize your video marketing strategy on YouTube appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Don’t underestimate the power of video

July 20, 2019 No Comments

Video content impacts organic performance more than any other asset that can be displayed on a web page. In today’s online marketing world, videos have become an integral step in the user journey.

Yet for the large enterprises, video optimization is still not an essential part of their website optimization plan. Video content is still battling for recognition among the B2B marketer. Other industries, on the other hand, have already harnessed this power of video.

In the recent Google Marketing Live, Google mentioned that 80% of all online searches are followed by a video search. Some other stats to take into consideration,  according to Smallbiztrends by 2019, global consumer Internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer Internet traffic. Furthermore, pages with videos are 53 times more likely to rank on Google’s first page.

I took a deeper look into video content and its impact on organic performance. My analysis started in the fall of 2018. Google had already started to display video thumbnails in the SERPs. According to research from BrightEdge, Google is now showing video thumbnails in 26% of search results.

 

graph on video content and its impact on organic performance for mobiles

 

graph on video content and its impact on organic performance for desktops

Source: BrightEdge

Understanding the true influence of video SEO for your business will require some testing. I did four different sets of tests to arrive at the sweet spot for our pages.

The first test was to gauge if having video content on the page made any significant changes. I identified a page that ranked on page four of the SERP’s in spite of being well optimized. The team placed video content relevant to the textual content to the page. And the test result was loud and clear, having a video on the page increased relevance, resulting in increased rankings, and visibility in universal search. The Page started to rank on page one and the video thumbnail in the SERPs displayed the desired video and linked back to the page.

The next test was to understand the impact of the method of delivery. I measured what was the level of user engagement and organic performance when video contents are displayed/delivered on the page via different formats. The page was set up wherein users could get access to the video content either via a link that would take the user to YouTube or as a pop-up or as an embedded file that actually plays the video on the page itself. Results were very evident – every time the video was embedded on the page the user engagement increased, which decreased the bounce rate, and improved page ranking.

Taking a step further in our testing journey, I conducted a follow-up test to evaluate which category of video content performs better? Like any other SEO strategy, video optimization isn’t different. Skip the marketing fluff and go for product feature videos, “how-to” videos, or “what is” videos. We tested assorted video contents on the same page. Whenever the content of the video addressed a user need and was relevant to the page textual content the page rankings improved.

Lastly, I tested if Google prefers YouTube videos or domain hosted videos. On this subject, several of my business colleagues and I have budded heads. There is no universal truth. Google does display both YouTube and domain hosted videos in the thumbnails on the SERPs. Different sites will see different results. I tested the impacts of an embedded YouTube video on the page.  What I found was something I had not even considered in my hypothesis. When the video was already present on YouTube and then embedded on the page, the URL improved in rankings and at the same time the thumbnails on the SERPs showed the YouTube video but when the user clicked on the video it took them to the product page and not to the YouTube video.

Key takeaway

Many enterprise SEO strategists failed to leverage the video content because they feel their products are not that B2C in nature. Remember that search engines like videos because searchers like videos.

Videos take the static image or textual content to experience content, wherein the user can actually view how to use the information. This brings in a much higher and stronger level of engagement that in turn improving the brand reputation.

What video content should you consider?

I recommend starting at square one – what is the user intend/need you are trying to address. Define the goals you want to achieve from this video marketing. Are you looking to drive conversions or spread brand awareness? Put some thought into whether the video is informative and engaging and whether it is relevant to the page that it is displayed in.

Don’t overlook how that message is conveyed as well. Take into account personas as that establishes your intended target audience, the overall tone that the video should take. What stage of the user journey is being targeted? Understanding the areas where video results are high can help provide insight and guidance for additional content strategy ideas.

Things to remember when starting to incorporate video content

More and more people are searching and viewing content on their handheld devices. Therefore, you have to optimize this content with a mobile-first approach.

The basic SEO principle still applies. Optimize title, description, tags, transcript. Matching these to the user intent can encourage click-throughs

  • Ensure its page placement. Always surround your video with relevant content to tie it all together.
  • Videos up to two minutes long get the most engagement. Keep them short and let your brand shine through.

Don’t just link to it, embed it onto your site and make sure the video image is compelling.

This is the critical time to incorporate video content and optimization into your content strategy for 2019. When quality videos are added to web pages, it gets recognized as rich content, a step up from the regular text-filled pages. Video content will only help your optimization strategy in expanding your reach to driving engaged site visits.

Tanu Javeri is Senior Global SEO Strategist at IBM.

The post Don’t underestimate the power of video appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Facebook updates its video guidelines to promote original content, loyal and engaged viewership

May 6, 2019 No Comments

Facebook today announced a series of changes to the way it ranks videos on its social network, which determines how widely they’re distributed. According to the updated guidelines, Facebook will now prioritize videos that focus on original content, those where users are engaged for longer periods of time and those where users return repeatedly to watch more.

The company wants to feature more high-quality videos, and less of those that feature “unoriginal or repurposed content” from other sources where there’s been little value added, it says. That seems to imply a bit of crackdown on the prolific video memes — those that lift someone else’s content (sometimes without proper credit) and then publish it to their own Page to cash in.

Facebook says it’s also now going to demote videos from Pages that are involved in Sharing Schemes. These are programs run by unethical content mills that compensate other Page owners for posting content and running ads to promote it.

In addition, Facebook will reward videos that have a more engaged and loyal fan base.

Before, Facebook encouraged video creators to keep their viewers watching for at least a minute. Going forward, it will actively add more weight in rankings to those videos where viewers watch for at least three minutes.

And it will reward videos where viewers repeatedly return to watch week after week.

The goal with the changes is to promote those videos that people value, the company says, while also helping great video creators reach more people across the social network by way of improved distribution.

The changes come at a time when Facebook’s video effort, Facebook Watch, is facing increased competition for viewers’ time and interest from a range of players, including Apple’s streaming service Apple TV+, as well as number of places to watch free, ad-supported content, like The Roku Channel or Amazon’s IMDb, for example, in addition to, of course, YouTube. And soon, the highly anticipated streaming service from Disney will eat into more of viewers’ time, too.

Facebook Watch has also been dinged for featuring low-quality content compared to newcomers like Apple TV+, which has signed big-name talent like Spielberg, Witherspoon and Oprah. Meanwhile, Facebook Watch has focused on things like MTV’s “The Real World” or “Buffy” re-runs in terms of its “premium” content.

With YouTube recently promising its own original content will become free and ad-supported in time, Facebook needed to keep up by making its own video site less meme-filled and more engaging than before. That can only happen if it promotes videos when they meet certain quality thresholds — which is what these guidelines aim to address.


Social – TechCrunch


Wonderloop’s networking app lets you swipe left on video profiles instead of pictures

April 18, 2019 No Comments

There isn’t much left to be done in online networking apps. We are all familiar with professional (LinkedIn), social (Facebook), real time (Twitter) and dating (Tinder, Bumble, etc). But profile photos of the people you’re interacting with only get you so far. And we’ve all known that person who looked smart in the photo and turned out to be not so amazing in real life. Photos don’t communicate a person’s energy, body language or their voice.

An app called Wonderloop hopes to solve this problem, with video profiles, like this one.

It’s now added swiping people, Tinder-style. Left for “later” and right for “favorite.” In addition, you can see who’s “Nearby” with a location feature, making it more likely you may even bump into this person. How’s that for making your day more…interesting?

Founder Hanna Aase says Wonderloop is not so much “LinkedIn with video” as much as it is “About.me with video.” Why? Well, because it also has a web-platform, allowing you to share your video profile outside the app, as well as message inside it.

I must admit, it’s fair to say that the impression you get from a person from watching them for 10 seconds on a video is pretty persuasive.

Aase says Wonderloop could end up being your personal “video ID,” providing each user with their unique video profile. She says Wonderloop’s aim is to create a search engine out of people on video.

“To see people on video creates trust. Wonderloop’s goal is that every person in the world should have a video identity. We want to help users get seen in this world. You use Wonderloop for the first step of turning a stranger into a potentially cool person in your life,” she added.

She thinks the app will be used by people to make new friends, connect influencers with fans, connect entrepreneurs, connect freelancers and travelers and of course a bit of dating here and there.

She’s also hoping the app will appeal to millennials and Generation Z who, as frequent travelers, are often into meeting people “nearby.” “We did research and were surprised to the extent the age group 16-20 wish to find new friends,” she says. For instance, apps like Jodel are used by young people to reach out to chat to complete strangers nearby (although with no names attached).

Right now the app is invite-only, but users can apply inside the app. Aase says: “We hope to do it in stages as the company grows and in a way where users feel the community is a place they feel safe and can share who they are on video. But being invite-only also makes us differentiated to all other services.”


Social – TechCrunch


Firework officially launches a short-form video storytelling app, backed by Lightspeed

March 14, 2019 No Comments

Facebook usage has declined for the first time in a decade, while video-centric apps like TikTok are being touted as the future of social media. Entering this redefined playing field comes Firework, a fast-growing social video app whose clever trick is something it calls “reveal videos” — a way for creators to take both horizontal and vertical video in one shot from their mobile device. Video viewers can then twist their phone as the video plays to watch from a new perspective and see more of the scene.

While Snapchat pioneered the idea of vertical video, newer companies are trying to free viewers from format constraints.

For example, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile streaming service Quibi is pitching its ability to offer an ideal viewing experience no matter how you hold your phone. As Quibi CEO Meg Whitman explained last week in an interview at SXSW, the company has “created the ability to do full-screen video seamlessly from landscape to portrait,” she said.

That sounds a lot like Firework, in fact.

Firework has filed a patent on its own flip-the-screen viewing technology, which it believes will give creators new ways to tell stories. Besides letting viewers in on more of the action, “reveal videos” also provide an opportunity for things like unexpected plot twists or surprise endings.

The way this works is that creators hold their smartphone horizontally to film, and Firework places a vertical viewfinder on the screen so they know which part of their shot will appear to viewers when they hold their phone straight up and down.

This recording screen has some similarities to TikTok, as you can stop and start recording, reshoot the various parts and add music.

“Snapchat really pushed being vertical only,” explains Firework Chief Revenue Officer Cory Grenier, who joined the company from Snapchat, where he was the first director of Sales & Marketing.

“What we see is that most professional filmmakers want to show their work on Vimeo first, and second on YouTube. There isn’t this world where you can really frame the context and the characters of a cinematic story on vertical — it just can’t happen,” he says.

Beyond the technology involved with Firework’s new filming technique, the company is also aiming to carve out a space that will differentiate it from other short-form video — whether that’s TikTok or, soon, Quibi.

Firework’s videos are longer than TikTok’s at 30 seconds instead of just 15, but far shorter than Quibi’s eight minutes.

“Thirty seconds is really the sweet spot between the Snaps that are 10 seconds and something that’s longer-form,” notes Grenier. “Ten seconds is too short to really tell a story. You want to have a powerful opening, a clear middle and a really interesting or unexpected ending,” he says.

This format lends itself better to short stories, rather than the remixed, music-backed memes found on TikTok, the company believes. But it also remains user-gen, as opposed to the high production value “TV quality” content shot for Quibi using two cameras. (And a lot more money).

Instead, Firework is focused on what it calls “premium user-gen” — meaning it will feature a mix of professional creators and up-and-comers. To date, Firework has worked with names like Flo Rida, Dexter Darden (“Maze Runner”), model and Miss USA Olivia Jordan, Disney star Jordyn Jones, Frankie Grande and others.

It’s also working with a handful of brands, including Refinery29 and Complex Networks. But the company doesn’t want to inundate the app with content from brands, it says.

In addition to the horizontal-to-vertical trick, Firework is also doing something different in terms of fan engagement: it’s ditching comments. Users can only privately message a video’s creator — they can’t comment on the video itself.

“Haters and trolls, they want an audience — they want to elicit a polarizing reaction. We remove that,” says Grenier.

And instead of “liking” a video, users can only bookmark the video or share it — an engagement that is styled like a retweet, as the video is posted to your profile with all the original credit intact.

Founded less than two years in Mountain View and now relocated to Redwood City with teams in LA, Japan and Brazil, Firework parent Loop Now tested a couple of apps that didn’t find product market fit before launching Firework.

Its team of 51 full-time today combines both tech talent and Hollywood expertise.

This includes: CEO Vincent Yang, a Stanford MBA and previously co-founder and CEO at EverString; co-founder and COO Jerry Luk, employee No. 30 at LinkedIn and previously at Edmodo; biz dev head Bryan Barber, formerly of Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures and Fox; and CRO Corey Grenier, noted above.

Unlike Quibi, Firework’s parent company Loop Now Technologies has raised “millions” — not a billion dollars — to get off the ground. Its early backers include original Snap investor Lightspeed, IDG Capital and an (undisclosed) early investor in Musical.ly. (Firework is poised to announce its Series A in a few weeks, so is holding off on investment details for now.)

The app launched last year and has been in an open beta until now.

According to data from Sensor Tower, it has 1.8 million installs on iOS, 55 percent in the U.S.

Firework claims it has 2 million registered users across iOS and Android.


Startups – TechCrunch