GoPro's mix of high-quality footage with a first-person aesthetic makes its videos irresistible to the Millennial audience. How can marketers take advantage of this new tool?
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or, go backwards, even.
As we leap exponentially forward on a daily basis with our advances in technology, our pop culture world desperately clings to the simplicity of the past - hence the renewed popularity of '80s artists, the almost weekly release of a pop song that sounds like it was recorded in 1953, and television shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire that harken back to a time when things were much less complicated.
It's almost as if, while we as a society seem to embrace the paradox of technology - that which brings us closer together, pushes us further apart - our collective conscience is doing all it can to hold on to some semblance of "humanity" and "connectivity."
Thus, when a piece of new technology comes along that seems to embrace the best of both worlds - the adrenaline rush of modern film-making combined with the all-important genuine simplicity of DIY'ing it - it's no wonder it stands alone at the forefront of its field.
The GoPro camera is that piece. And, unless you're living under a rock, odds are, you've seen it.
Whether it's FIFA using GoPro to show a Brazilian kid's take on the World Cup, Virgin America's YouTube channel devoted solely to clips featuring GoPro, or watching GoPro videos on your kid's Xbox, one thing is certain: the ad world will never be the same.
Utilizing the best video technology today's Ivy League Ph.D.'s have to offer, and combining it with the simplicity of a kid riding a skateboard, GoPro has taken Wall Street - and Madison Avenue - by storm.
The company has doubled in size/profits - for two years in a row - while only increasing its marketing budget by a fraction of a percent.
That's practically unheard of for any new company, especially in today's market. Obviously they're onto something, but what exactly is it?
Why are videos shot using a GoPro trending on YouTube or Twitter at least once a week?
How does a company with a relatively small marketing budget claim a YouTube channel with more than 2 million subscribers, with its top-five videos having been viewed more than 112 million times? There are other competitors out there, like Garmin's "VIRB," so why is GoPro so far ahead of the pack?
"They have an incredible track record because they're able to capture spectacle better than just about any other brand," says Victor Pineiro, vice president of social media at Big Spaceship, a New York digital agency.
Pineiro believes GoPro is changing the video marketing landscape from the inside-out, because "it's starting with itself."
GoPro recently acquired CineForm, the company responsible for the codec used in the movie Slumdog Millionaire. CineForm's acquisition makes editing HD and 3-D faster and more convenient, without sacrificing image quality.
Pineiro goes onto say, "GoPro videos are the perfect blend of hi-fi/lo-fi because they mix high-quality footage with a very DIY, first-person point-of-view aesthetic. This, coupled with their sense of adventure, makes them irresistible to the YouTube (Millennial) audience."
Lastly, he adds, "There's also an incredibly experimental, DIY aspect to the product and the culture around the brand. Most of the best videos seem inspired by the question, 'What if we strapped on a GoPro and did X?' It keeps the videos informal, simple, and thrilling."
In an era where the public appetite demands something new and different about every 10 seconds, forward-thinking companies are finally beginning to see the advantage of partnering with the biggest mavericks in unusual/extreme sports - whether its base-jumping, heli-skiing, skydiving, daredevils, hot-air ballooning, etc. - to sell their products.
YouTube optimization pioneer and author of YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day, Greg Jarboe, says ""GoPro has done a brilliant job of helping its users put their selfies on steroids."
Arguably, the best example of this is Felix Baumgartner, who used GoPro cameras to document his Red Bull Stratos jump. But, so far, according to Jarboe, "Outside of Red Bull, there aren't that many other brands that have harnessed a new generation's desire to capture compelling, immersive video content of themselves participating in their favorite activities."
Jarboe feels GoPro's prospectus provides a "roadmap that other marketers can use when making video ads."
Nick Woodman, GoPro's chief executive, says, "What began as an idea to help athletes document themselves engaged in their sport has become a widely adopted solution for people to document themselves engaged in their interests, whatever they may be." So, all other marketers need to do is figure out how to encourage their users to generate entertaining and inspiring content when using their products.
Will we see a day when a company completely does away with the million-dollar budget for a slickly produced/edited commercial in favor of paying $1,000 to a kid with a GoPro? Seems like we're well on the way.
Anybody sitting in their bedroom reading this can grab their GoPro, step outside, and within 24 hours, have 100,000 new followers on their YouTube/Facebook channel. Thus, creating yet another platform for ad revenue.
The GoPro technology, and, more importantly, its branding philosophy, is apparently here to stay.
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David Fagin is a New York-based writer/producer/musician.
His resume boasts an incredibly diverse range of contributions, from top news sites such as Salon, AOL News, Yahoo, and The Huffington Post to a wide-range of humorous entities such as The Onion, The Muppets, Comedy Central, Dennis Miller Live, and Howard Stern.
He is fascinated by technology and social media and the seemingly love/hate relationship we have with the changing world. He is also a food snob.
Hong Kong, May 5-6, 2015
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