Livefyre’s Engagement Cloud helps companies manage user-generated content

Livefyre is perhaps best known for powering the comments sections beneath an untold number of articles from across countless websites. But the company is about more than comments — it’s about helping companies use the content generated by basically everyone who uses the Internet to suit their own goals. Today it’s announcing a new platform so it can do that better than in the past.
“Brands now have to produce more content than they ever have in history,” says Livefyre chief executive Jordan Kretchmer. “If they want to engage their audience, if they want to build community around their sites and mobile apps and stores, they have to create content to do that.” But hiring a bunch of people to make that content can be expensive; user-generated content is a lot cheaper.
That’s where Livefyre comes in. Kretchmer breaks Livefyre down into four areas: discovering content from the social Web; organizing that content into manageable pieces; publishing that content to a website or social network; and then keeping an eye on how well that content performs after its publication. These used to be separate tools, but now they’re all lumped in with each other.
“This has been the big product effort for the last nine months,” Kretchmer says. “As we grew as a company and started delivering on more value and pieces of functionality to more customers, we of course had to bring more pieces into our platform.” This became unwieldy, so the company has built a dashboard to tie everything together in a service anyone should be able to use.
That dashboard presents data collected from many different sources. It then sorts through all that content, presents it to a worker given the soul-crushing job of reposting #brand related stuff to their company’s online properties, and allows them to publish it on their Facebook page or website or wherever. Why pay for some original content when so many people are giving it away for free?
There is, of course, the simple matter of getting the rights to that content. Livefyre has rights management baked in; all a brand has to do to use someone’s tweet, photo, or miscellaneous ramblings is ask for permission. If the person who made that piece of content agrees, the brand is able to do whatever they want with it, and it’s permanently stored on Livefyre’s cloud.
Kretchmer says this was the number-one most requested feature from Livefyre’s customers. He assures me that content for which brands haven’t secured the rights will be deleted from the company’s cloud if a user deletes it from whatever service to which they shared it to begin with; if the rights to that content are handed over, however, they’ll remain available in perpetuity.
All of which means that every Facebook post, Instagram photo, and Tweet can be used to promote whatever a company wants to get in front of its customers. The good news: They’ll have to ask permission first, provided those companies are using Livefyre. It ain’t much of a silver lining, but at least it’s something.
 

Magisto’s desktop app wants to edit all your photos and videos

The average smart phone user captures 150 photos every month. That’s 1,800 photos a year. Add a DSLR camera or maybe a GoPro to the mix, and you’ve got a whole lot of personal media. With any luck, it’s all getting backed up and archived on computers and external hard drives, only to never be seen again.

Mobile video editing specialist Magisto now wants to help users rediscover some of that footage. Magisto launched its very first desktop app for Windows PCs Tuesday. The app scans and analyzes a user’s personal media collection to turn it into shareable video clips, complete with soundtrack and professional-looking transitions.

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Magisto has been doing the same thing with its iOS and Android apps for some time, and the company recently shared a number of interesting data points about people’s mobile media collection habits with us. For example, the average camera roll holds about 630 pictures. Compare that with your typical hard drive, which may contain hundreds of gigabytes of personal media, and it becomes clear why Magisto wanted to be on the desktop as well.

But it’s not just those photos we archived long ago that make the desktop so valuable to Magisto. The company’s CEO Oren Boiman told me during a recent conversation that he also views action cams like GoPro as a huge opportunity. GoPro users easily capture gigabytes upon gigabytes of video, but a lot of that footage isn’t all that valuable, and very few users have the time and resources to ever edit the highlights. Magisto’s desktop app can now make use of that footage by selecting the best moments, and editing them together to a small, shareable clip.

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Magisto isn’t the only company trying to solve problems around personal media. Google is also offering to automatically edit pictures and videos that are uploaded to Google+. But uploading large amounts of HD video still can be a burden for users, especially those with low upload speeds. That’s why a desktop app may, at least for now, be key to unlocking long-forgotten photos and video footage.

Special report: How we really use our camera phones

You didn’t need the latest wave of selfie sticks to know that personal media on mobile devices is huge. People are taking photos and videos all the time, and Instagram and Vine have become the new social media darlings. But take a closer look at personal media, and you’ll start to notice some very interesting differences.

iOS users for example are on average taking a lot more photos than Android users, and women are a lot more into collecting visual memories than men. Personal media startup Magisto has been noticing very distinct differences for some time, and recently, the company gathered and shared some of its data and insights exclusively with Gigaom. The results are surprising, and a must-read for anyone building products for personal media or social online.

Now, it’s worth noting that Magisto’s data is somewhat self-selective. The company makes an app that helps you to turn your everyday snapshots and video clips into short, shareable videos, complete with soundtracks and visual effects. It’s safe to assume that people who don’t take any photos at all wouldn’t download Magisto to begin with. However, the company decided to look only at new users to exclude any feedback effects of users taking more photos or videos specifically because they’ve been using the app. Altogether, Magisto analyzed the personal media habits of 66,000 iOS and Android users worldwide for this report.

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First things first: We really do take a lot of photos. The average user takes 150 new photos during a given month, according to Magisto. That’s about 5 photos a day. Video capturing, on the other hand, is still a lot less prevalent, with users taking on average just 7.5 videos during a given month. In other words, for every single video recorded, people take on average 20 photos. And most of these videos are pretty short: Those 7.5 clips make up just 7 minutes of footage combined.

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People don’t just take a lot of photos every month, they also like to collect them and carry them around for some time. The average user has 630 photos and 24 videos stored on their mobile device, with those videos again just amounting for 23 minutes of footage total. Apparently, very few people like to record their very first full-length feature films with their phones.

But these are just worldwide averages, across different device platforms, age groups and gender lines. Dive down a little deeper, and you’ll start to see a lot of very different usage patterns. Let’s begin with one of the biggest lines dividing us as a people: iOS vs. Android.

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iOS users take 65 percent more photos during any given month that their Android counterparts: The average iOS user takes 182 photos per month, while Android users only take 111 photos on average. That discrepancy continues when you look at the size of camera rolls on both platforms: The average iOS device holds 2.3 times as many photos as the average Android device.

There are a number of possible explanations for this. One is that the Android ecosystem doesn’t just include $600 flagship phones, but also very cheap devices, some of which can be had for $50 or less with a prepaid plan. These lower-end devices typically come with a lot less internal storage, which impacts their owners’ abilities to capture personal media. You just won’t take 180 photos a month if your phone constantly complains about running out of storage.

One could also argue that Apple has historically done a great job at making iPhone photos look good, which encourages people to take more photos. Again, some of the more expensive Android flagship phones also take beautiful pictures, but a cheaper Android handset may not.

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One’s choice of mobile operating system isn’t the only factor that influences personal media habits — our gender has a lot to do with it as well: Women take on average 47 percent more photos than men, whereas men take 15 percent more videos than women. And the biggest photo lovers are female iPhone users under the age of 25, taking an average of 250 photos per month.

Finding a good explanation for this may be even harder than explaining why iOS users take more photos than Android users (and your chances of offending someone are equally as high), but this discrepancy explains a lot with regards to the types of social and user-generated services popular online today. Just think of Pinterest, one of the most visual social content platforms online, whose user base is reportedly 80 percent female.

The slight male dominance in video recording is also interesting, as it could point to a perception problem for video that may have to do with the way it’s currently being presented in capturing and editing apps. Or maybe it’s just long-ingrained collective gender stereotypes. Just think back to your family parties back in the 1990s or even the ’80s, long before everyone recorded everything with smart phones. That cousin dramatically crawling on the floor with a camcorder in one hand to get the best shot? Likely a guy.

And just for the record: Male Android users take the least amount of photos, with an average of just 90 photos per month.

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All of those numbers are global averages, but there are also interesting regional differences. Magisto didn’t share too much of this data with us — the company does have competitors, after all — but it highlighted one interesting outlier: Mobile users in Japan capture a lot more media than anyone else.

The average Japanese camera roll contains 1,500 photos and videos, which is 2.3 times the global average. As in the rest of the world, women under 25 who use iPhones once again capture the most photos — they are just taking even more snapshots than their counterparts in the rest of the world. On average, young female iOS users in Japan take more than 300 photos a month – that’s about ten every single day.

Maybe the rest of the world will catch up to this behavior in the coming years — but it’s likely that differences along gender lines as well as mobile platforms will continue to be a factor for some time, giving startups some cues which users to concentrate one, or even which challenges to tackle in order to close these gaps.

Images and additional reporting by Biz Carson.

After raising $10 million, Plex gets ready to take on iTunes

Media center app Plex is up to big things: The company quietly raised $10 million from Kleiner Perkins last year, and now it’s getting ready to put that money to use and take on iTunes.

Plex showed off a bunch of new music features at CES in las Vegas this week, where Plex Chief Product Officer Scott Olechowski told me that these new music features represented a big step forward for the company. “People expect their stuff to look like Netflix,” he said, adding that Plex has done a good job in the past to deliver on this expectation in the video space. For example, last year, the company added online movie trailers and recommendations to its app, allowing users to browse and explore local movie and TV show files just like they would when browsing an online video service.

In the coming weeks, Plex is now going to bring a similar experience to the music space. The company has teamed up with Gracenote to add recognition and tagging of files and help people organize their music library. Plex also uses Gracenote’s data to automatically recommend music from a user’s personal library, and even generate playlists that kind of work like Pandora stations.

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And to add some eye-candy for everyone who is using Plex on the big screen, it also shows related music videos from Vevo, which can be watched completely without ads. “This will get music to the place where people don’t need iTunes anymore,” Olechowski said. He added that Plex is even considering to eventually add paid music downloads, or team up with a music subscription service, to give users a chance to grow their music library.

Plex is getting Vevo’s videos through a partnership with the music video service, which costs the company some real money. That’s why the videos will only be available to paying Plex Pass subscribers. Plex first introduced this paid tier two years ago, initially just providing paying users with early access to new features. But with music videos and trailers, Plex is looking to turn Plex Pass more into a true premium experience, and get even more people to convert. Olechowski told me that the company already gets about 80 percent of its revenue from Plex Pass subscribers.

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Plex currently employs 42 people all around the world, and most of them have been working to bring Plex to a large number of devices, including most recently the launch on the PS3 and PS4. This year, the company also wants to improve the channel experience for integrating third-party online content in Plex, and give users better tools for their personal photos and videos.

User-generated content is “a deceptively hard problem,” said Olechowski, adding that most people are likely to have a mix of cloud-based and local media that is hard to manage. Plex wants to solve that problem by integrating more cloud storage systems over time, and help users to explore and rediscover their personal videos.

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Gamers caught up in YouTube deal making?

The rash of take-down notices sent to gaming channels appeared to be generated by YouTube’s ContentID system and seemed to be focused primarily on the music included in game soundtracks rather than on the use of game footage itself.