Couple of thoughts: 1) I appreciate aggregation. Why ask me to traverse several sites when one destination pulls them all together in an easily digestible package? RSS feeds have enabled this sort of thing, as have many content plays over the years. 2) Anyone who has read my column knows that I more than appreciate great geo-centric services. If a product smartly pulls together elements of interest based on my current or future location, I’m in.
Frequently these days we see services trying to elegantly touch on both: important data coupled with location targeting. And an app officially kicking off today attempts just that in the social video arena.
Centric is an iOS app from founder and CEO Vincent Gibson that he dubs “a new iOS video discovery app and broadcasting platform… to enable users to browse, view and interact with video that’s being shared around them on Centric and other video platforms.” Gibson came to Centric after his other app fizzled out (a news-finding / citizen journalism tool called ifussss), but not before it helped point the way to the new video product.
“It’s like being handed a new map to your neighborhood that has all sorts of stuff you didn’t know existed before,” said Gibson in an announcement leading up to the launch of the product.
Well, sort of… Users can see videos uploaded to YouTube, Twitter and Periscope based on their location and from where the video was uploaded. Want to hone in on your neighborhood? Just toggle. Zoom out to 22 miles with equal ease. Don’t expect some kind of lurky Streetview experience, however, and not always will you get a sense that it’s particularly local, but presumably with more fine tuning one can see both the utility and fun.
Using Centric feels a little like foraging through video thumbnails you might see in one of the new smart keyboards that allow you to search for GIFs while texting. For more, we talked to Gibson about the genesis of the product and where he’s taking it.
What was the impetus for the app?
Frustration was the impetus. The idea that all the content we were seeing on our social channels seems to be the same.
Algorithms and connecting with same followers and friends has made real, organic discovery almost impossible. How do you just find something randomly anymore? The user has little control over what they see in their feeds now.
We thought geography, your location, was a good place to start — it’s hoped that the content you discover has an interest to you on some level because it’s from where you are. It’s your connection. People are natural villagers, they have a sense of community wherever they gather – be it in neighborhoods or what we call “moveable locations” like music festivals or the Super Bowl.
Also from the content point of view there is a service for creators and publishers. There are loads of great video out there that just never gets seen due to what I mention above. With Centric the chances of your content being seen rely on nothing other than where you are in comparison to other users. No following or friending the right people required.
We are about growing audiences for creators and other source platforms. There are no likes on Centric, you like something and want to find out more, tap the user name and you get taken straight to the source platform (Twitter, for example) where you can follow/friend that user.
Humans are also nosey. We like to know what’s going on around us. We like to watch.
Centric app wants to inform, entertain and allow people to see what’s going on where they are and bring discovery back to what the word discover really means “to learn or find out (something surprising or unexpected).”
Who is the target audience?
We’re not “targeting” anyone specific; if you like video and are curious about what’s going on around you and want to see some stuff you might not usually see, we’re targeting you.
Talk about the current feeds driving the app and future potentials
The app hast two main feeds: one a “local” feed that’s searchable by radius and [another] global which is all the latest clips from everywhere on the platform, and can be searched by text.
Users can upload their own content but the vast majority of our content comes from other video platforms and what users from your location are posting to them
Currently we have YouTube , Periscope and Twitter with a view to add as many video platforms that have API’s and geo-tagged content.
As I said before, we see the potential to be the center point for discovery in your neighborhood/city etc. Going forward we see all publishers and creators having a discovery point on Centric app, directing users to then follow them on their main page, website, source platform account. We don’t really publish anything over 3 mins long so we are not looking to compete in that space.
For example with people’s permission we can easily automatically bring their YouTube content straight into an equivalent channel on the Centric app (so no more work for publishers and creators). This means your channel can be showcased locally in our “Watch List” as well as obviously being picked up in the main feed.
How does the geo-filter pull videos within that range?
We scan for the information we can get. If the clip on the source platform is geo-tagged that’s great, we can return that process address. However with Twitter a lot of people do not post with geo-tags so we have to use a load of filters and requests to decode what their location is…and obviously retweets are an issue. Instagram recently pushed us out when they closed their API, which is a shame as we had worked out a way of delivering their local content in a smarter way across a wider distance than they do.
Are people able to share live streams or just previously uploaded videos (YouTube) and those they’ve uploaded to Centric?
People can share all the content that the source platform allows to be shared.
Are you seeking to create a social platform?
Not a social platform — God knows we don’t need another one of those. But certainly the idea is to build it to become a discovery, sharing and broadcasting platform for short-form content and user-generated content. We think YouTube (whom we love) basically bailed on UGC — they are much more of a huge broadcaster now. But we see ourselves far more in that market than FB or Instagram or Snapchat. Though interestingly someone said to me recently that the app was like a whole city’s Snapchat story rolled into one.
We are about discovery though. That’s our flag in the sand.
There’s a feature that allows selling of the videos? Talk about how that works.
As I mentioned earlier we had an app called ifussss, one of the key elements was peer to peer video purchasing. We left that feature in because if we grow and there is an opportunity for brands and media to discover content and creators, it’s only right that those creators should have the opportunity to profit from it easily.
Basically any user can set any price for any of their clips, which any other user can buy. The creator of the content keeps 100% of revenue. I’d like to stress this is only for native Centric content.
Are there plans for ad integration?
Not in the straightforward way ads are currently served on video apps. We have some smart ideas around this that we are exploring and testing but in the short term we are not looking at clickthrough ads or traditional top and tailing. We have other revenue models we think can offset this.
Is the platform intended to be licensed?
The tech is always licensable, and we believe going forward that the tech Centric app uses can be applied to other products such as podcasts and other more niche markets.