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Webdoc Relaunches As Urturn: Social Platform For Direct To Fan Campaigns #MIDEM

The-virginmarys-king-of-conflictThis weekend at midem 2013, creative platform Webdoc relaunched as Urturn with a focus on "Expressions." By offering ways to create content on the web bound by specific limits, Urturn has created a platform that makes it easy to create fan-participation campaigns. Webdoc caught the attention of music marketers and that relationship is expected to deepen with the launch of Urturn as a more explicitly social platform.

I spoke with Urturn Co-founder Vincent Borel last week preceding the Webdoc/Urturn presentation at midem. He was kind enough to give me a demo and answer my questions since I was unable to attend.

I first wrote about Webdoc here at Hypebot in 2011 and even then I was impressed at the possibilities for self-expression and music marketing. Somewhere along the way I made the mistake of associating Webdoc with augmented/interactive image platforms such as Thinglink. But over time I've come to feel that most uses of services like Thinglink end up being cluttered and undermine the core image.

In contrast, Borel reminded me just by demonstrating the product that the simplicity and limitation of Urturn are what make it ultimately a platform more likely to reach the general public and, in many ways, more visually appealing.


V Marks The Spot Campaign for The Virginmarys

Individuals are encouraged to create what Urturn calls Expressions, with appealing individual profiles and simple tools for taking a piece of content, such as a photo, and altering it a bit by such means as overlaying a statement, juxtaposing two pics or adding a Soundcloud player. This ease of usage combined with pleasing design is key to user uptake but I'm going to focus on marketing concerns.

The Urturn campaign for The Virginmarys' upcoming release "King of Conflict" is a good example of what Urturn offers music marketers.

Using the album cover art, also shown in the above thumbnail as well as the campaign statement, fans can participate in a few simple steps:

1. Upload a pic or choose one from the web

2. Choose placement of the "V"

3. Add a caption

I left out the part where they click on "your turn", "next"  and "post" but you get the idea. It's really simple and draws on the fact that people are already used to uploading and/or sharing pics on the web. Add one extra elements, the "V", and you've got a user generated content campaign.

As with all such short forms, Urturn's simplicity facilitates participation yet truly creative people can find a way to stand out without making the inept feel out of place. If marketers, whether the artists themselves, someone from their label or a marketing firm, make a choice that strongly fits the artists, then a fun campaign ensues that can engage fans. They can then browse each others' work and share on social networks. Outstanding art can also be featured on the artists website or social media outlets if desired.

I think "V Marks The Spot" is an excellent example of both how Urturn can work and what makes for a good campaign. In great news for marketers working with web developers, Urturn is also now offering an API that allows for the creation of such campaigns on artist and label websites.

Urturn Campaigns Offer Increased Fan Engagement

Vincent Borel informed me that they've been working a lot with people in the music industry over the last year and it's become an area of specialty for Urturn. In particular, fan engagement has been impressive with what they describe as 5 to 15% engagement versus an industry average of 2.5%. I asked about how they define engagement with campaigns and he said they looked at such factors as number of views, time on site, fans creating their own content, sharing on other networks and increased word of mouth.

Borel described the big difference between Webdoc and Urturn as being a shift from a "blank canvas" to a social sharing platform with a "focus on keeping things simple and beautiful." I think they've found a nice balance of elements that can now be strengthened with additional options for creation and further service integrations without undermining the basic formula.

DMT Midem 2013 - Where Webdoc becomes Urturn

As a bonus I'm including the above interview conducted at midem 2013 by Andrea Leonelli for Digital Music Trends. It includes both Co-founder Vincent Borel and Urturn's Head of Music Olivier de Simone.

Also, according to a company announcement, Urturn will be working with such labels as Interscope Records, Polydor, Columbia and RCA on campaigns for their artists in the coming year. Given that they had already worked with some of these folks in 2012, it sounds like major players are happy with the results.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/App.net) also blogs at All World Dance: Videos and maintains Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.