Today, we’re releasing the tenth edition of our Startup Outlook series, 360i’s guide for helping brands better evaluate emerging technologies and platforms. This report features five startups that are enabling brands and consumers to automatically or manually curate content.
Several of the startups featured in this edition (see below) recently joined us for a panel discussion in a special Internet Week rendition of Startup Outlook. The Curation Nation panel included Sam Epstein, VP of Platform at RebelMouse; Toby Hervey, Director of Strategy & Business Development at #waywire; Freddie Laker, Founder & CEO of Guide; and Matt Corey, Chief Marketing Officer at Mass Relevance, a startup featured in our last Startup Outlook report.
The event kicked off with presentations from each of the startups and concluded with a Mass Relevance-powered Q&A, in which audience members were able to submit questions via Twitter for the panel to answer. Panelists provided insightful responses to questions ranging in topic from their initial “light bulb” ideas to copyright and release issues, to what’s next for the platform and their favorite startup success stories.
As was confirmed by the panelists and their respective startups, the volume of content produced and shared online continues to proliferate, and platforms with the ability to create a signal amidst the social noise have the potential to unlock tremendous value. The companies profiled in the report below – Flayvr, Guide, RebelMouse, Storify and #waywire – all have strong value propositions for both brands and consumers.
*Value: Flayvr is an app for iOS (iPhone) and Android devices that automatically collects photos and videos in albums and shares them with other social networks through a single link. The mobile-optimized landing page is beautifully designed and makes it easy for others to peruse a number of photos and videos at once. Additionally, the app asks permission to access your calendar, so it is able to instantly arrange media that matches up with events. Flavyr is exploring various hooks for brands as well, such as offering branded accounts to follow with the potential to promote them in the app. Marketers can also use Flayvr’s technology to curate content for events online or offline.
*Applicability: While the consumer app is relatively new, Flavyr’s curation technology has been used by a number of marketers already. It can be especially enticing for an event that will trigger a lot of user-generated media from participants, though marketers can just as easily use it for their own content.
Note: the event could just as easily be a conference, in-store function or online experience around a TV show airing.
*Prominence: Exposure in-app will be minimal at first, as Flayvr works to expand its reach. The bigger opportunity for brands at present is to use Flavyr’s technology to create stand-out experiences around live events.
*Ingenuity: Adding calendar access is one of those smart features that becomes virtually impossible to forget once you try it — and you’ll wonder why other apps aren’t using it, too. The overall design is impressive, and it works well on massive screens at live events or via mobile devices. Given the fairly early stage of the app and company, marketers will have their own opportunity to explore innovative, first-mover use cases themselves.
*Value: Guide is a very new startup that uses artificial intelligence technology to curate news sources and broadcast them as a video feed. It’s presented in a format akin to the nightly news (or The Daily Show), but in this case, viewers pick which news sources and channels they want to watch, and then pick which kind of anchor avatar they want to read them the updates. While Guide hasn’t publicly launched just yet, one can envision brands taking part in various ways, such as promoting their content or creating relevant avatars.
*Applicability: Entertainment brands with a lot of their own content would likely be the best fits early on, as well as the most probable early adopters here. Brands with iconic mascots and spokespeople may also be intrigued. Perhaps we will soon have Flo from Progressive Insurance, Tony the Tiger, or the Most Interesting Man in the World as news anchors.
*Prominence: If brands do end up incorporating their own mascots, it will be a great opportunity for them to create a one-of-a-kind experience. Marketers should make sure such experiences are easy for users to find within the Guide experience.
*Ingenuity: There are a lot of news readers out there, most of which have lean forward approaches such as Flipboard and Pulse that involve scrolling through image-heavy news snippets. One can also subscribe to video channels on YouTube, or through the startup #waywire (see p.4). Guide’s biggest challenge will be to trigger a new consumer behavior, with people growing accustomed to watching video feeds of text and image heavy news, while also selling in the idea of the avatar itself. If people embrace it, marketers will be excited to see that there are potential integration points for brands right from the start.
*Value: RebelMouse collects a user’s or brand’s content feeds from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, and Google+ and curates them all on a single page that’s easy to scan and peruse. People can use it as a personal homepage if they like, while brands and publishers can set up their own profiles, or, for a monthly fee, power a RebelMouse page as part of their website. In April, RebelMouse announced a native ad offering that grants publishers the ability to enlist advertisers to sponsor some of the embedded content on their own pages.
*Applicability: Publishers may appreciate curation, but this is especially useful for brands with a lot of scattered social content that want to collect it all in one place. Early adopters include a diverse roster of brands such as General Electric, Marc Ecko and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
*Prominence: The biggest opportunity for brands is to embed a RebelMouse page on their site, thereby using the curation platform to power their own social newsrooms. Marketers should understand that they will need to generate any traffic going to their RebelMouse page.
*Ingenuity: While for consumers, RebelMouse’s closest alternative is About.me to curate one’s own social content, for brands, RebelMouse stands out as an especially easy way to organize content. One of the biggest challenges is that it may be too basic in its structure and design. Once you see any page powered by RebelMouse, every other page looks exactly the same. Greater customization options will allow brands to get more creative with the canvas.
*Value: Storify curates topic-specific recaps of news, events, user-generated content or any kind of scenario where people are sharing a lot of content via social media. Storify’s content editor recommends the most relevant images, videos, tweets and other content to share. Brands and publishers can use the free, ad-supported version, upgrade to a business account for additional features (private posts, better SEO options, ad-free posts, etc.) or the VIP version for full API access and other advanced options. Expect more advertising offerings to roll out in the coming months.
*Applicability: Publishers, especially news outlets, have been the quickest to use Storify to curate their own content or content from users. As brand marketers adopt more of a newsroom approach to content marketing, Storify will become even more relevant for them, too.
*Prominence: Storify promotes some of the most popular and compelling content on its homepage, but marketers should expect to drive most of the traffic to Storify pages through their own channels such as social, email and their website.
*Ingenuity: Ultimately, like any content publishing software, the technology is only as good as the content created with it. Brand-name publishers and savvy consumers are increasingly using Storify to turn scattered content into stories, and with the VIP offerings, one could never tell that the aggregation is powered by a third party. Media companies have led the way, from massive corporations to local affiliates, but now the brands acting like media companies will get to take part as well.
*Value: #waywire is a video curation startup co-founded by Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Anyone can curate channels of video from all over the web. Its design makes many call it “Pinterest for video,” but #waywire provides a much different experience, especially as people going there to watch content will likely take more of a lean back approach to consume several videos at once. Marketers can create their own channels. For instance, fashion site Refinery29 has separate channels for Fashion, Nightlife & Music and Beauty. Other custom offerings for marketers are likely to follow.
*Applicability: The most obvious fit is for marketers that have a lot of video content and want to better organize it, or to distribute it to a wider audience. There are two other good use cases here. One is for a brand that solicits a lot of user-generated video, or that wants to aggregate a lot of videos others create relating to the brand. Additionally, marketers adopting a brand newsroom mentality may use #waywire to curate content around topics that are relevant to them. For example, a low-calorie beverage brand might curate videos about healthy living to further its positioning in the health and wellness space.
*Prominence: Right now, marketers will just need to plan on promoting their own content and channels on Waywire, though there may be more options for brands in time.
*Ingenuity: YouTube already allows curating videos into lists, but only YouTube videos. #waywire was built from the ground up with curation in mind. YouTube offers marketers far more options for advertising and marketing, but #waywire may meet some curation needs that YouTube and other video sites can’t quite fulfill.
Read past issues of 360i’s Startup Outlook at www.startupoutlook.com.