Vine Hits 40 Million Users And Spawns A Whole New Shortform Video Industry

As social video continues to gain popularity, so do new tools to help users and brands make the most of it. Pitch'd is the latest.

Vine has reached 40 million users, it announced on its parent company Twitter yesterday. It's an impressive figure, when you think that numbers have tripled in just two months—and all of this despite Instagram's best efforts to hole Vine below the waterline with the introduction of its own short-form video function. So, regardless of whether you're on Team Instagram or Team Vine—or the just-hatched MixBit, there is a whole new economy springing up around the short-form video, which is proving attractive to both brands and media—including Fast Company—alike. Perhaps the best-known of these is MOFILM, which is aimed at the top end of the market.

But there's a new kid in town. U.K. startup Pitch'd aims to provide a platform and analytics tool for brands and agencies who want to get user-generated short videos talked about on social media. It's led by a former Procter & Gamble brand-builder, Adam Stamper, who launched the platform with the smirk-inducing Dullvine contest, inviting people to post the most boring six seconds of loop they can come up with.

Fast Company chatted to Stamper yesterday, who had a parallel career as a successful social media app developer while he was at P&G. He sees short-form video as "the biggest thing to happen in marketing since Facebook, and brands need to be ready for this new era of 'people powered advertising.'"

Pitch'd "helps brands and agencies move beyond the Mad Men-era model where creativity was a commodity which only 'creatives' in an ivory tower could deliver. In terms of buzzwords," he continued, "it gamifies crowdsourced brand content."

Stamper's background in social apps made one thing very clear to him: Brands needed to adopt a very different modus operandi on social media. "I saw on one side the huge media budgets spent by advertisers," he says, "and on the other side huge traction with very little spend—one of my apps ended up being used by over 4 million people, to my chagrin as the servers it was hosted on kept melting. That was the inspiration for Pitch'd—the idea that advertisers would be better served by working with their audience, rather than expensively yelling at them."

But Pitch'd's services do not come cheap. The most basic package is aimed at agencies and starts at £749—that's almost $1,175. For that, they get a leaderboard that works on desktop, mobile, and Facebook, a built-in retweet and Facebook vote function, plus moderation and analytics, but will still have to run the campaign themselves. Choose the top-tier version and you'll be paying out around $9,400 a month. Stamper justifies it thus:

"The alternative is for the agency to custom-develop functionality from scratch which echoes Pitch'd—and this would cost far more and take far longer. The Gold package would suit a large digital agency with many clients; they would still add sufficient value to the brands they worked with for this to make financial sense. With either package there's potential for the brand to secure epic return of investment, as their users' entries can reach millions of connections at a very low cost—just the fee plus the brand's prize/incentive."

[Image: Flickr user outcast104]

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  • Anthony Reardon

    Right on.

    Well last year I did a presentation about social media campaigning on the basis of major events such as the upcoming Super Bowl. One of the examples I used was for a Northern California niched business to do a Kaepernick'ing contest using video, and for winning selections to be determined by number of Facebook "likes" and Twitter "retweets". funny thing was, my focus was more generalized to the broader social media strategy, so I wasn't too concerned with the technical details of how you could actually hold a contest like this. So with Pitch'd...there you go!

    Not to rain on this parade, because they deserve some credit for the novelty idea and quickly positioning within the latest trend, but on the broad strokes I think they are off. I've been talking about social media with emphasis on the video "media" aspect for years, and it does call for a new model of relating between brands and people. However, I am critical of ideas that "talk this talk" and try to pass on whatever their social media solution is as the "walk the walk". It's not that the broader idea is off, because it just makes sense, but you can usually break down something wrong with the intention or the application. The examples in these cases are telling for me.

    Check out MOFILM which I like for a lot of reasons. It's true that video is by far more accessible and this lends itself to new opportunities for small businesses and people in general where quality production used to be the proprietary domain of big advertising budgets. However, it's too easy to miss the point of "social" and "media" even though it's right under your nose. The fact that it is "digital" as opposed to other media like print, radio, and television is not the inherent difference. The fact you can crowd source and go viral isn't the essential value of "social". If you are a mega brand looking to leverage the new technologies using the traditional models of advertising, it's too easy to sit there and say let people make your commercials and generate the buzz among themselves. In my view it's more about qualitative engagement and producing meaningful experience between companies and their markets- and that would imply a strikingly different set of intentions and applications.

    Anyways, then you've got Pitch'd and you get the same kind of lines about the emergence of video and new way to relate to people. Merrihue was right in that video wasn't really set up yet for the quickly emerging mobile market, but 6 second clips cuts through the bandwidth problem, not to mention the prevailing attention spans promoted by social utilities like Twitter and Facebook. The application isn't very innovative in creating a crowd source or viral engagement facility oriented to video and popular social platforms.

    Perhaps the most telling aspect is the intention to relate the new media solutions in comparison to traditional advertising. Right there, where you say you can advertise (via social lead generation) better and cheaper than traditional media, is where I see most companies go wrong. The advertising industry is such a huge and tempting pie and all these online monetization models seem to see themselves competing in relation. You don't have to take my word for it. Just look around at almost any web development, SEO, or social application company and see what they are messaging. They build themselves up by putting the traditional down, and then set their prices in comparison. It just goes to show that most aren't actually concerned with what you can do with the new technology, and how cost-effective that can really be, but rather can't take their eyes off getting budgets to shift over from the existing to the new.

    With that kind of intention, it's just not surprising to see the new models not really going anywhere, and why there always has to be something new when what's being tried today doesn't seem to work all that great. Like I said, I projected a use for something like Pitch'd and it does look good for what it is, but 1K to almost 10K per month- sure it will sell, but- not so sure it will be worth it.

    Best, Anthony