Shhhh! Don’t Tell Anyone: Whisper, Secret Apps at SXSW

Marketing in age of anonymity

Clandestine apps are having a SXSW moment, with Whisper and Secret in Austin discussing how they are putting the anonymity back into online. On the surface they have similar uses: Users post short messages that are often funny and revealing and sometimes scandalous.

Whisper co-founder Brad Brooks was in Austin this week for the interactive portion of SXSW, and Secret co-founder Chrys Bader was here too. In fact, Secret has a website dedicated to SXSW.

The apps include an element of privacy since anything users post is not attached to a true identity. Whisper launched in 2012 and Secret launched this year.

One of the main differences between the two apps is that Secret pulls messages, anonymously, from people indirectly linked to a user’s Facebook friends, so some posts may actually hit close. Whisper more broadly just shares messages to the whole network.

Whisper already has attracted plenty of content that relates to brands like Taco Bell, which are often the subject of whispered messages and images of the brands are used as backgrounds in the posts.

The company, however, has guarded any plans to open more formally to marketers. Still, here, Whisper’s Mike Downey discussed the potential for advertisers and products to play in the space.

Separately, Secret’s Bader discussed his app with Alex Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit. Secret has caused quite a controversy in its short life for spreading Silicon Valley gossip, but Bader was proud at least for the lack of nudity, as you’ll hear him say it.

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