A great way to see areas in which brands are innovating is to look at the latest startups to inspire our trends coverage.
We’re always examining the latest startups to inspire our trends coverage—a great way to see areas in which brands are innovating and the problems that are being solved. At a recent showcase of the six startups participating in the BBC’s innovation lab, there were a lot of great ideas, and refreshingly, they were all well developed, since the BBC needs them to be actionable. The BBC set up the lab two years ago with the intent to invest in viable startups at the intersection of technology and media, developing them and using their tech internally, while acting as mentors. A roundup of what we saw:
Seenit is a B2B online tool intended to help companies easily harness user-generated video content and foster co-creation in real time. Seenit’s native app helps anyone with a smartphone participate in crowdsourced video projects, providing a simple template that asks a short series of questions, dictates video length and standardizes file formats to MP4. Content is uploaded to an editor tool, which the company can use in real time to view and splice clips.
It’s been used in projects for Bacardi (see above), a Hunger Games premiere and at the Monza racetrack. STA Travel is incentivizing its “Travel Experts” to upload video of adventures booked through STA using the Seenit app, which both promotes their affiliates and further vests their customers in the brand experience.
Why it’s interesting: Seenit is both a tool and an incentive. It offers all the tools necessary to produce slick content using rough smartphone video captured on the ground—straight from a brand’s intended audience. The co-creation premise taps into people’s need to create and share, and the software provides effortless structure that steers unbridled creativity in a meaningful way. The current work with brands like Bacardi is brilliant. Using projects like this as a model, brands could also consider layering iBeacon technology and/or further incentives, such as QR-coded rewards, to continue the customer brand journey.
Seenit is working on white-labeling the product; expanding to B2C, targeting the “pro-sumer” (examples include the stag party); and developing an editor network that allows the business to outsource work to contracted editors worldwide.
Buddybounce rewards fans for following, liking and listening to an artist on social media channels in exchange for badges/points that translate into giveaways such as tickets, signed merchandise and celebrity meet-and-greets. The more passionate the fans, the closer they come to their favorite stars. Celebrities, record labels and managers partner with Buddybounce in order to build ties to fans and broaden fan bases, while fans join the online network and download the free app to get rewarded for the spontaneous promotion they’re already generating. The roster currently includes around 300 celebrities, including One Direction, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus and Justin Timberlake.
Why it’s interesting: Buddybounce has created a new business model around spontaneous online behavior. With the digital infrastructure and online social network established, a brand could easily piggyback on the fan-celeb relationship and sponsor rewards, including product giveaways and experiences.
CrowdEmotion’s cloud-based technology captures facial expression through applied neuroscience and mobile/TV technology in order to code, measure and translate emotion. Users can choose to release the information captured from their participation to further research (there’s a 20 percent opt-in rate so far). The startup competes against U.S.-based Affectiva, in which WPP has invested.
Why it’s interesting: The company has boiled 20 years of neuroscience research into an easy-to-use online platform and come one step closer to getting inside the human brain (for better or for worse). In advertising, it offers a compelling alternative to the traditional qualitative research tools. The output is numerical, and the input can be captured from participants’ homes, making the process easier for them and the potential scope far larger for the advertiser. The product consistently shows a clear distinction between how the user actually feels and says he/she feels. So far the technology is being used by eye-tracking company Seeing Machines in Australia, which aims to track bus drivers to avoid their falling asleep at the wheel, and an unnamed baby food maker that strives to understand babies’ needs better.
In addition to advertising, products, services and communications delivered via mobile or TV technology can read a user’s expression and alter the user’s experience accordingly. This could include mobile payment based on machine-learned mood settings. Other potential applications include diagnosing depression, preempting criminal action and identifying fraud.
Other startups on the BBC roster include Rezonence, whose FreeWall digital advertising service offers a different take on full-screen takeover advertising. A reader is granted access to premium online content by answering a question about the advertising brand, rather than merely closing the window. Rezonence, which is working with Unilever and Vodafone, promises a click-through rate 10 times better than the competition (1-5 percent). And Verticly is a digital marketing tool that allows brands to tap into broad cultural conversations online and deliver unplanned pleasurable moments in the real world. For instance, someone is watching TV at home when prompted by an advertiser to tweet about it in exchange for a redeemable coupon, emailed as a QR code, for a free drink at the local pub. Once the consumer is engaged, the brand can track him in real space and contact him when he’s in an optimal place to engage again (the customer can always opt out). This produces significant data around real-world consumer behavior. Verticly is working with brands including Bacardi, Specsavers and Ted Baker.