This App Is Cleverly Letting Brands Sponsor Instagram-Style Video Filters

A gold rush for user-generated content

With the huge growth of user-generated content (UGC) on mobile platforms like Instagram, marketers are looking for interesting ways to plug such material into campaigns. And naturally, tech startups are bubbling to the surface to accommodate those brands.

The latest is mobile video app Magisto, which uses algorithms to sequence, crop and stylize a collection of clips and photographs into a completed film project. To do so, Magisto lets users choose from a selection of themes that correspond with a certain style or mood, essentially an evolved version of Instagram filters. Brands also have the option of sponsoring a filter, which has piqued the interest of Coke, Pampers, Discovery Digital, NBC Sports, Zappos, Rawlings, Ford, and All, the laundry detergent.

On Thursday, Magisto and Outside Television unveiled a new theme called Action Sports, a filter which will follow a "heroic" story arc, ideally for captured outdoor activities or other adrenaline-filled tasks. Users get an edited video they can share with friends; the brand gets a piece of custom creative plus an increase in awareness.

"Word of mouth has always been the strongest way to effect awareness and purchase intent. UGC is word-of-mouth media. It's the currency and the language of social media," Magisto CMO Reid Genauer explained.

And it appears to be working.

For example, Magisto recently completed a campaign with the laundry detergent brand All that provided a wealth of social media clips and marketer shout-outs. All sponsored a Summer Play theme, which corresponded with three different contests centered on: little league baseball (#LLmoments); favorite family sports moments (#gameon); and summer memorable events (#summerfun). In total, 646,894 movies were created with the Summer Play theme, which were viewed almost 4.3 million times. In addition, Magisto cleared 1,000 branded movies for All, which had the right to use the films in its own video album on Magisto or

"Understanding how to use UGC content at scale, in a contextually appropriate way, is mission critical for brands," Genauer said. "The ones that don't adapt simply will not be part of the conversation in the very near future." 

More companies are building UCG into their identities—or "brand DNA," as marketers like to say. For instance, the photo and video apps Scoopshot and Foap allow marketers to request certain types of content and then lets people submit materials for money or increased exposure for their photos and videos.

There's little doubt the marketing industry is in a nascent stage when it comes to turning UGC into revenues. So whether these startups can make a serious dent in the larger advertising scene will be worth watching.