Thought there were enough ways to express your feelings in pixels already? Think again. A new video messaging app called Wordeo is landing on the iOS App Store today that lets you illustrate the content of a text message with a series of related video clips.
In each Wordeo, the words of your text message are overlaid atop a montage of video footage, typically one significant word at a time. The resulting video message can be viewed within the app — or via Wordeo.com — or shared out to other social media sites. (Words plus video = wordeo; yes, see what they did there?)
Wordeo is a U.K. startup, founded by ex-Apple global retail development exec David Bailey back in September 2012. So far it’s raised a “mid-seven figure sum” from a group of undisclosed early stage Angel investors to launch this video messaging play.
Why is this messaging startup focusing on video? “When we started doing this in October 2012, Vine didn’t exist, Instagram for Video didn’t exist, Viddy was kind of the latest, greatest thing at the time but it was kind of a painful app to use,” Bailey tells TechCrunch. “Video’s just the next step, the next evolution in the communications.
“After photographs and Instagram it’s obvious, with faster processors, and better bandwidth, people are going to get video messaging. But we felt that Wordeo brought a simple, a new twist, a new way of doing those video messages, without forcing people to record stuff, review it, upload it.”
Wordeo has inked an exclusive deal with Getty images for access to its stock video library, giving users of the app six-figures worth of stock clips that can be used to illustrate their missives. Which means Wordeo is a video messaging app where users don’t actually have to shoot any of their own video to use. Ergo, the creative bar is being set much lower than an app like Vine, which requires users to film the content themselves. Hence the more mainstream target for Wordeo.
“I wouldn’t say we’re going for the Vine group,” says Bailey when asked about the target demographic for the app. “I’d say it’s anyone who enjoys sending a message, whether it’s via Twitter, a message via Facebook, a message via email… anyone who enjoys messaging, who wants to add emotion to their messages, as we call it, we think is a candidate user.”
“Having access to Getty’s content allowed us to give people a jump-start at creating a unique video message very quickly,” he adds.
To create a Wordeo a user hits the compose button within the app and writes their text message. The app then generates a preview of the Wordeo — by automatically selecting related clips to illustrate the message. It does this by parsing each word against Getty’s content library and automatically pulling in clips to illustrate key chunks.
So if, for example, you’re writing about a rainy day in London, the app is likely going to add in footage of umbrella-wielding people for ‘rainy day’ and then show some London Beefeaters for ‘London’. Simples.
“The idea came originally from some creative work I was involved with, for Getty, in which they were trying to find a way of highlighting their million video clips but after the first brainstorming exercise came the opportunity and the idea of doing this video messaging app,” says Bailey when asked about Wordeo’s genesis.
As well as footage of unrealistically good-looking business people in suits shaking hands at pretend meetings, or photogenic babies smiling and goo-goo-la-ing at the camera, courtesy of Getty, Wordeo users can also insert their own video clips into the messages — by tweaking the video content after the app generates the first version of the Wordeo (using the “tweak” interface, pictured below).
Users can add video clips they’ve shot previously and saved to their iOS device, or shoot new video within the app. The Wordeo tweak interface lays out the video message one ‘word slide’ at a time. The user can then scroll up and down on that slide to change the individual video clip being used to illustrate that word, or swipe on to edit the next word.
If a user wants to add their own video footage they have to pull all the way down on the stack of stock footage to bring up an option to ‘add your own video’. So really, although a Wordeo could be made that’s comprised entirely of original footage, that user is going to have to spend a lot more time tweaking their message than the one who just goes with the app’s algorithmically generated stock suggestions (which has implications for the kind of ‘community’ Wordeo is able to build, should it manage to build traction — although a skew towards stock more than original video footage meshes with its mainstream target demographic).
Wordeo’s tweak menu also lets users change the font (there are 20 on offer) and select another soundtrack (these are divided into genres and moods — scroll right to get to the more moody music, apparently). As with the video clips, these components of the Wordeos are automatically selected by the app so the user doesn’t actually have to make any changes, unless they want to.
At this early point, Wordeo feels like an app that advertisers are going to love — with the proliferation of stock video footage creating an atmosphere and environment they will be very familiar with, and one where slickly produced high production value video adverts would fit right in. Whether that ‘natural marketing arena’ feel is off-putting for users remains to be seen.
And of course adding in ads is something Wordeo isn’t doing yet. Its focus now is on getting people engaged with a simplified video messaging creation tool.
“We definitely have some good ideas for native advertising of brand presence, which is sensitive to what we’re trying to do. We’ve got ideas for that,” says Bailey. “[But] we’re focused absolutely at the beginning on user numbers and on the user experience; we don’t want to put brand or commercial content or any of those ideas in there until we know that we’ve got the right user experience.”
The Wordeo iOS app hits the iOS App Store today, with an Android app in development. An iPad version is also planned with an interface that makes the most of the larger screen sizes.
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