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Brief Published: 29 Oct 2013

Snaps & Urturn: Monetising & Branding Photo Shares


The boom in traffic on platforms like Instagram, SnapChat and Vine is inspiring brands to develop ways to monetise social image and video-sharing platforms without stunting user creativity. Enter Snaps – a new photo editing and sharing app that invites brands to submit images for users to customise, edit and share alongside their own.

According to the start-up, the brand ad integration will appear seamless once it is remixed and thrown out onto social media alongside original, user-generated content. The app is proving popular with film studios looking to market animated kids’ movies, such as Twentieth Century Fox’s Epic and Universal’s Despicable Me 2. Younger users snap images of themselves with virtual characters from the properties.

Similarly, new app Urturn encourages users to snap images and customise them with ‘Expressions’ – readymade images and tagline templates – before sharing them on social media. The start-up is also inviting brands to create templates and Expressions for their fans to use on Urturn, bringing branded messages into their content. One case study featuring American indie-rock band The Gossip saw users illustrate lead singer Beth Ditto to promote its single Move In The Right Direction.

The latest research from analysis firm Pew surmised that 54% of internet users are posting original photos or videos, so understanding how to operate the field of mobile social video and photo sharing is key for brands.

Industry leader Instagram’s decision to integrate sponsored ads into personal feeds has caused a ripple of concern among its users, who value the ad-free space for its creative freedom. Brands have already fared well on the platform – according to analysis firm Unruly, 40% of the top shared videos were branded – so we could question this more intrusive push. And as Snaps and Urturn demonstrate, there are other ways that brands can work with users to advertise and market their products, as well as monetise creative spaces without driving users away.

For more on navigating this social mobile field, read Mastering Social Video, and look out for our Seven Approaches to YouTube Storytelling report publishing this week. Also see our Consumer Creators Industry Trend, which explores how brands can tap into and foster the creativity of their increasingly enabled consumers.