GoPro opens its library to advertisers

With GoPro’s recent announcement of their new GoPro Licensing platform, giving advertisers access to their library of quality footage, one thought stood out clearer than all else: why did it take this long in the first place? On face value the company’s latest announcement was something of a no-brainer, a win-win for both the company and marketers, with content creators gaining in the middle.

One of the strongest aspects of the GoPro brand since it’s launch in 2004 has been the ease at which it quickly gained the holy grail of marketing: brand ambassadors. The simple truth is that most people who adopt the GoPro fall in love with the camera. This bond is even stronger when you take into account the types of individuals that have adopted the brand from the get go. It has always been a brand synonymous with adventure and in particular the riskier aspects of the outdoor world. The reason this worked for the brand is in sports such as rock-climbing, mountain climbing, base jumping, surfing and scuba diving there is one thing that trumps all others: trust. In most outdoor adventure sports there will typically be one or two clear market leaders as opposed to dozens of competitors. This is because trust is so key that few are willing to cheap out on the rope that might keep them anchored to a cliff, the breathing apparatus that keeps them alive underwater, or the board that they use to mount a wave. Outdoor adventurers tend to be a quality over quantity kind of consumer. Trust in a minority of brands is in their nature.

So when GoPro launched and quickly proved that not only was it small enough to go anywhere and do anything, but it was also durable enough to tackle all conditions, it was quickly adopted by adventurer communities. In the years since, GoPro steadily grew in the underground, building up a loyal fan base that adored the quality of footage it captured of their exploits. It’s rise in the background came at a perfect time as well as it’s arrival coincided with the birth of Youtube and both brands were about as perfect as one could imagine.

As a brand GoPro mainly revelled in it’s position as a cult favourite for years and for a while it seemed it would plateau as a neat but effective form of online video option, reserved for personal showreels and home videos. All of that changed in 2012 when Felix Baumgartner became the first human to break the speed of sound during free fall, while taking part in Red Bull’s epic Stratoscampaign. The campaign was a massive success for the brand as it gained international coverage, with their Youtube video alone gaining 38million views. At the core of this concept were the eight GoPro cameras attached to Baumgartner at the time, allowing for his rapid descent to be recorded. Ever since GoPro has been an in-demand video format and thankfully, now that demand might be sated.

This week GoPro announced they were launching GoPro licensing, a platform for marketers, giving them the ability to purchase GoPro footage for commercial use. GoPro’s new mentality is out there for all the world to see: they want to do for video what Getty and Shutterstock do for images. Of course, Getty and Shutterstock both offer video options in their library but not on the level that GoPro seem intent to provide. In the end GoPro’s battle with it’s two competitors could be over before it starts and it all comes down to that aforementioned resource that GoPro has in spades: brand ambassadors. So strong is the company’s bond with their user base that their users actively hand over their footage and images for free, with GoPro’s community-driven Instagram page one of the burgeoning feeds on the social network. Though there might be a few purists out there that would not want to see their beloved brand sullied by a push into the advertising domain, there will still be a large number interested in the concept of earning royalties from their passions, and from footage they were already willing to give up for free to an Instagram feed.

As a creative it is an interesting reality to be faced with. With production costs being so high even for a simple television production, it is hard to ignore the potential in GoPro’s library. Brands that might be interested wouldn’t even be restricted to being purely sports-related either with science-based content providing stunning visuals that, out of context, are malleable to dozens of branding options. Though at first the library is hinted at being relatively small with well under one thousand clips being available, it might be about waiting out the initial burst of creative adoption, as such a small library might lead to identical shots in different ads, creating confusion for the consumer.

Another problem that can not go unnoticed is the iconic nature of the GoPro camera. It may not have entered the mainstream until recently but the camera has a very distinct style, particularly when deployed in Superview mode, with it’s fisheye lens giving the image a unique feel. The reason this could be a problem for marketers initially is they need to be careful of their narrative. If they choose to use a montage style of advertising, a model that has grown popular in recent years, then they run the risk of product confusion. To put it simply, users have grown so accustomed to the look and feel of a GoPro shot that it is easy to imagine them assuming any advertisement utilising GoPro produced footage is actually an ad for GoPro itself, or even Red Bull, a brand that has sought to corner the market on GoPro marketing. This could be a problem in the early stages but the more common the footages usage becomes the lesser this effect might occur going forward.

GoPro themselves have set out to avoid initial over-saturation as they have placed the platform at a premium cost compared with competitors. The cheapest starting price for footage is set at $1000, with the price increasing based on type of license. Considering the type of footage typically produced by GoPro enthusiasts tends to work best via montage, then this would require the purchase of multiple videos, with the price increasing significantly based on the length of ad being sought. Though the potential rewards are undeniably desirable.

It is an interesting new dawn for online video content production but how significant an impact GoPro’s new platform makes is one we can only speculate on for now. It will certainly give marketers and brands great options for their online content creation efforts. With the arrival of the platform it will also be inevitable we will find videographers producing content specifically designed to be sold to brands. When this type of content starts to role out it will be an interesting day for online video production. Will it change the game for producing branded content online? Probably not. It will however open up creative to options typically outside of their means. We could soon live in a reality where there is no need to fly a crew to shoot footage of the polar ice caps, as there is likely an adventurer with a GoPro out there recording his experiences right now with an eye on advertising royalties in his near future.

By Ciaran, Jul 2015