Applause Connects Brands With Livestream Stars

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We’ve seen startups helping brands tap influencers to promote themselves on social media platforms like Vine and Instagram, so it might be time for a new influencer marketing startup, Applause, that’s focused on live video — particularly Twitter’s Periscope app.

It’s certainly a platform that CEO Jon Jacques is familiar with. In addition to working for a couple of years at marketing startup Virool, Jacques is a street magician, and by livestreaming his tricks, he attracted a following of nearly 100,000 users on Periscope. (And, as you can see in the video below, he also worked with The Ellen Degeneres Show.)

Jacques said that he started to hear from marketers who wanted to pay him to promote their brands and products, making him think, “Wait a second here … There was a clear opportunity to actually have a career on Periscope.” And as he discussed this with Dan Ragan (who was then head of influencer marketing at GroupM), they decided that there was a broader opportunity to build a network of Periscope influencers.

Periscope users who have already signed up for Applause include musician Todd Carey, news producer Courtney Harvey, hypnotherapist Grace Smith and TV host Alex Butler.

“We’ve noticed a new breed of influencer,” Jacques said. “You have your Instagrammers, your Snapchatters and people on Vine, but this content is entirely different. This is live.” He added that he’s seen influencers on other platforms “totally bomb” on live video: “They aren’t able to hold that audience in the palm of their hands with this new style.”

Applause has already run campaigns for brands like Warner Brothers, Bose, Starwood, KIND Snacks and Visit Jamaica. For example, Starwood worked worked with the network to launch the Starwood Preferred Guest channel on Periscope.

Jacques said the early campaigns have seen anywhere from 2,000 to 20,000 viewers on the livestream, then tens of thousands more viewers in the following 24 hours. What’s really impressive, though, is the engagement, with 29 percent of viewers making it through seven-minute brand videos and an average of 900 live comments per video.

And while the initial focus is on Periscope, Jacques said Applause is also interested in Facebook Live and, potentially, other livestreaming video platforms — he suggested that “those two are going to be the two key players,” but also acknowledged, “The war is not won.”

He added that while Applause has already created its own data collection tools, there are plans to further build out the technology side of the business.