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Stealth Advertising On Vine

Brands Get Sneaky With Vine

Vine is one of the largest, and only, social networks that maintains an ad-free status. You can’t pay to place your ads on the platform but this doesn’t mean that it’s free from subliminal messaging. Rather, it just means that big advertising companies are getting craftier with their marketing techniques.

This is understandable. Vine has 40 million active users who are young and impressionable (13-25 year olds). The six-second video platform, owned by Twitter, is one of the largest social networks and offers a hot bed of would-be customers.

Marketers can’t sponsor or promote videos and advertisements the way they can on Twitter or Facebook (where a sponsored post is clearly marked and frankly cumbersome amongst your friends’ news feed posts), but companies are still placing their products in front of the right people.

How? Through some sneaky guerrilla marketing. Big brands are paying Vine’s most popular users to ‘organically’ push products to their massive followings. Yes, brands already have a company page but the message and interaction on a product will be much different when it comes from a ‘regular user’ as opposed to the brand itself.

For example, influential Viner Jake Paul has a following of 2,015,496 who consequentially all bore witness to Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign, watching Paul’s undercover attempt to steal a bottle of Coke from a friend. The video’s aren’t ‘sponsored’ or ‘promoted’ in an explicit sense, but the conveniently placed hashtag in the video’s description reveals the assumed financial gains for Mr. Paul.

This stealthy advertising is popular, because products from companies like Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s and Virgin Mobile can all be seamlessly entwined into your everyday Vine sketch.

It’s a profitable option for the darlings of Vine too, with a six-second video going anywhere from $5,000-$30,000 depending on the influencer’s reach and audience. Advertising and talent agencies such as GrapeStory are getting a cut of the profit too, as they match up Vine stars with suitable brands. Six figure contracts are being drawn up for a series of half a dozen videos.

The Vine community is close-knit and the most popular Viners are well-known for making guest appearances in each other’s videos, re-vining to help reach more users or holding fan meet-ups that result in massive flash mobs and crowds. There’s a system that works, and the advertisers are getting in on it. 

However, the medium is not without its drawbacks – it is often the dumb, goofy, slapstick videos that triumph, but fitting a meaningful message into six seconds will prove trickier.

Experts would warn against monetising the platform so that advertisers can pay their way. People react badly to clearly sponsored posts; it breeds trepidation and mistrust. Users don’t want to be bombarded with ads, they want a more genuine, organic and personal experience as we’ve seen with the rise of apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp, where the focus is on intimate and private interaction.

Part of the future of these guerilla style Vine ads may be determined by legalities. In America at least, the Federal Trade Commission is quick to stamp down and fine brands and advocates who don’t trade with enough transparency – the FTC has investigated Twitter users in the past who advertised products without acknowledging that they’re being paid. However, the practice is common, especially on Instagram where product placement is rife, and it seems likely that stealth advertising will continue on Vine for at least the near future.

Recent graduate and now interning as content editor, when she's not writing articles Katie can quite likely be found festival-ing, holiday-ing or reading a book (dedicated English student that she is). Follow her @KatieAtSMF.

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Stealth Advertising On Vine Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, July 31, 2014 Rating: 5
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