Animoto Has A New Square Deal For Advertisers

When smartphones were new, you probably couldn’t have predicted they’d reshape the advertising business. But the first time  you saw a square video ad on a smartphone, you might have slapped your hand against your forehead and exclaimed, “Of course!”

I won’t presume Brad Jefferson, co-founder and CEO of Animoto goes around slapping his forehead and talking to himself. But he’s seen the growth of mobile video and read the predictions about where it’s going.

So today, Animoto is introducing a square-format video tool for its Marketing Video Builder. It’s gone through beta testing by Billboard, Simple Recipes, Buffer and the Jane Goodall Institute, and the square shape obviously has a future for small- and medium-sized businesses that are typical users of Animoto solutions.



Those landscape videos will work for a business’s Website, for sure, but if it’s searching for customers where those customers usually are, the square format is key. Animoto’s solution for businesses is the first to offer a method everybody can use easily. The format is also handy for internal introductions of product lines that a business may want to communicate widely over their community of smartphone users.

Jefferson says square video takes up 78% more space on a mobile social media feed, and those extra pixels are persuasive little buggers.

Talking to Jefferson, though, it’s pretty clear he’s also watching what Facebook is doing and what founder Mark Zuckerberg is predicting, which, in short, is a future in which watching video will make up nearly 100% of what we’re doing online.

Since Zuckerberg says that already 90% of Facebook’s action come from mobile phones, it’s pretty clear to Jefferson that Animoto and its clients better be there--and be square. There’s no “or” about it.

Animoto also points to other stats that say view rates are 28% higher for square ads on mobile phones, and that 67% of them are viewed to the end

Animoto does good hand-holding for new advertisers, which a lot of Animoto’s 50,000 business customers are. “If they don’t learn how to quote-unquote ‘speak video’ they won’t even be able to be part of the conversation,” he says.

It offers a pre-formatted ad template for those companies that want it--and most are in that bucket. Those pre-built storyboards, he says, “reduce the creative anxiety.” (Animoto suggests the square-format ads stick to about eight seconds, though that’s a flexible standard. Jefferson warns, “Those ads are competing against a hyperactive thumb.”)

The square-format package also includes drag and drop interfaces and voice-over, text-enhancing filters and styles. Animoto says marketers can now transform any content they have into a square video, even if the content was originally shot in landscape.

A lot of Animoto’s customers are small businesses, but its target also extends to companies with a designated marketing executive on board.

Jefferson says the concept is not too different from what Animoto was designed to do ten years ago when he started it with Stevie and Tom Clifton and Jason Hsiao.

Back then, Jefferson felt sorry that his mother spent hours toiling on a video highlights reel of family vacations, devising her own methods. Oh, how she tried. In the end, the end product, um, didn't hold his interest.

The answer was Animoto, which quickly discovered a market for individual users and would-be advertisers stumped by how to go about doing it. Stevie Clifton, then working as a video editor for an ABC News unit, realized that whether he was constructing a video about something as frivolous as surfing or as serious as the AIDS epidemic, some of the tools and concepts were the same. Animoto grew out of those experiences.

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