Last April, we took a cue from our third screen savvy friends in Japan and launched one of Aviary's first special edition sticker packs. As part of a creative partnership with Atlantic Records, we teamed up with the visual artist John Gourley (aka the multi-talented frontman of exploding band Portugal. The Man) to design a perfect photo editing feature for fans - something that would both connect fans with the band and give them something really, really fun to do (and share). In Japan, where brands have been distributing branded digital sticker packs in messaging and photo apps for about a year (often to coincide with releases of their infamously good commercials), this interactive and social medium has a strong reputation as a powerful third screen marketing and engagement strategy. And after our first five experiments with stickers outperformed normal iOS CTRs by an average 1100%, we could definitely understand why (email me for case studies).
Now - before I go any further - let me explain something about "stickers," because whatever you're visualizing when you read that, you're probably wrong:
A few years ago, digital stickers were a lot like everyday stickers. You know, like the ones your kindergarten teacher would shell out as a reward for turning in your homework on time. As a result, using these stickers on digital photos was like a Martha Stewart craft gone off a cliff - all cartoony, a little cheesy, and maybe best reserved for kids.
But these days - thanks to some very talented designers and some very advanced technology - stickers aren't really stickers anymore, they're just incredibly easy ways to realistically "superimpose" elements into your picture (and/or communicate complex emotions in one click). With stickers like these, you can make your house look 2000 years old. You can make a convincing album of that time you flew to space on the very first Virgin Galactic flight (wink wink). And of course, you can make your picture look like John Gourley drew his doodles all over it, in exactly that way that he's known to do.
For people that love editing pictures, this sticker revolution means that you can now create the sort of ridiculous images that only the most talented digital artists used to be capable of, in seconds (for another great example of that, check out the Dead Yourself app). For brands, it means that with the right strategy, you can empower a huge audience to create awesome content on your behalf. And for the rest of us, it probably means that we're going to be seeing a lot more of them.
You definitely will be in Aviary; in fact, check out your "sticker" feature right now, and you'll find three (free!) special edition sticker packs - all brought to you by brands and bands* that are savvy enough to understand how you really engage with your mobile phone, and see value in meeting you on that level. Special edition packs in Aviary have already been downloaded close to four million times, and we have no doubt that our users prefer it to more traditional mobile advertising - where average CTRs still hover around 0.86%.
On that note, we are massively grateful to the innovative brands and agencies that have already stepped into this new territory with us. To the fine folks at Digital Kitchen, Gap, Diane von Fustenberg, H&M, Redbull, Starcom and Atlantic Records: you are brave, bold, and great at what you do, and we're so honored that you've trusted us to get your feet wet. Thank you!
*Yes, Portugal. The Man fans, your beloved stickers are back this week. So you can stop emailing us.