Brand Safety And The Brave New World Of Shared Media

If you’ve ever taken an intro-level Mass Communication course (I know I have!), you’ve probably sat through at least one lecture about the three forms of media: paid, earned, and owned. I could go into detail about each one, but this chart does a pretty good job of quickly breaking things down:


Pretty straightforward, right? That’s what I thought too, but there’s one wrinkle in this model that you may not be aware of: an emerging fourth branch called Shared Media. You’ve definitely already come across some examples of Shared Media just from using social media regularly—think along the lines of all those branded filters you see on Snapchat these days. By relying on this type of user-generated content, Shared Media allows for consumers themselves to create and share advertisements in an organic, authentic manner. In this post, I’d like to look at the current state of digital advertising, and also provide a closer look at one Boston-based company’s ongoing efforts to break new ground in the realm of Shared Media.

The Importance of Brand Safety

If you’ve been paying attention to Google headlines in the past month or so, you’ve probably seen one or two about their massive advertising crisis: news broke that paid ads were running on “problematic” videos, including those linked with hate speech and terrorism. In response, hundreds of brands have pulled their ad campaigns from YouTube and other Google platforms, and the cost of this backlash is estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $750 million. Danni just wrote a great post that goes into much further detail about this so-called “Adpocalypse,” but the long and short of it is that companies are now going to be a lot more cautious about the types of content that will be used to advertise for their brands.

Google is the big “advertising-gone-wrong” horror story at the moment, but that’s not to say that other companies and platforms haven’t run into their own share of issues with branded ads appearing on inappropriate content, or that they won’t face these problems in the future. Snapchat’s branded filters have been pretty successful so far (each one brings in a neat $350 thousand for the newly public company), but the unmoderated nature of this approach to Shared Media opens up brands to a number of potential headaches and PR nightmares.


This Taco Bell filter is super fun, but I’m sure it could be easily be misappropriated as a medium for spewing racist beliefs. At the moment, there unfortunately isn’t much that Taco Bell or Snapchat can do to prevent this!

Imagine some bonehead slapping a Toyota filter onto a video that promotes drinking and driving, or something even worse. While it is a little pessimistic to think this way, these are the unfortunate realities that brands and marketers must be prepared to deal with—look no further than the horrific livestreamed Facebook murder for an absolute worst-case scenario. Yes, one could argue that the risk of off-brand Snapchat content is minimized by the time-sensitive nature of the platform, but Stories can still live for up to the full 24 hours. A lot of damage can happen in this time, and that’s not even accounting for the afterlife that can come from easily shareable screenshots.

Enter Vivoom.

Vivoom is a Shared Media marketing platform based out of Back Bay, and the 3-year-old startup has already given much time and consideration to addressing the problems that stem from the open-ended nature of user-generated content. The Vivoom platform—it is important to stress that there is no such thing as a dedicated Vivoom app—is designed with brand control as a chief focus, as the cloud-based system can quickly flag and remove content from all social media channels, given that the video in question contains problematic or off-brand material.

I know that up to this point I’ve been somewhat indirect in explaining what exactly Vivoom’s user-generated content looks like, but I believe seeing it in motion is the best way to understand the platform. A few months ago, Vivoom partnered with Xbox to create a campaign that encouraged fans to share their favorite gaming memories for the chance to win a swanky Elite controller (which typically retails for $150). The campaign has been over for months, but I was still able to create a video on Fair warning: I’m definitely overacting in the clip below, but i think it’s still worth a watch because it gives a pretty clear idea of how Vivoom actually works:

Pretty neat, right? After I recorded my short clip, the video was quickly compiled and I was given the option to share the finished product across a number of social feeds. And of course, if for some reason I had instead decided to record a string of swears (or even worse, talk about my undying love for Sony and PlayStation products), this video would have barely seen the light of day before being delisted and removed. I should also clarify that this particular campaign was more testimonial-based than most, as many other Vivoom promotions are more focused on the fun visual and audio effects that are applied, and many end with free coupons and discount codes. In my opinion, this is Shared Media done fairly and responsibly: I still had a lot of creative control over the content of the video, just not the opportunity to jeopardize the investment that Microsoft has made in this campaign. Sounds good to me!

I hope that this post has been informative about some of the unique advantages and challenges that exist within the emerging Shared Media market! If you’d like to see more from Vivoom, they’re currently running a promotion with the Celtics for this first round of the NBA Playoffs. If you’re feeling adventurous, I encourage you to head over to to try out their tech—bonus points if you decide to share the link to your video in the comments section. Let me know what you think about Vivoom and Shared Media in general!


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