AOL-owned live video app Kanvas looks for ad dollars with more event coverage

AOL would like you to know that it, too, has a live-streaming app. And it’s rolling out live event coverage today in search of custom sponsorships.

The app, Kanvas, looks like a mishmash of Periscope, Snapchat and Phhhoto (an app that lets users capture moving images). It was born a photo-editing app but jumped into the live-streaming fray last October, two months after it was acquired by AOL. Now, Kanvas is expanding its live-event coverage with a programming initiative called #KanvasLive, where its in-house team will broadcast music, social and culture-related events, including Ultra Music Festival, SXSW, New York Fashion Week and Okeechobee Music Festival. (When you sign up for the app, your feed will be filled with #KanvasLive content).

Yuyu's Kanvas feed
Kanvas live

“During the first quarter of this year, we have been thinking how Kanvas can fit into AOL’s ecosystem. We figured that since young people love events, real-time edits to live video could be breakthrough. We can further amplify our content through AOL properties,” Vic Singh, co-founder and CEO of Kanvas Labs, told Digiday.

The team has been experimenting with #KanvasLive over the past three months. During that period, they generated 1.2 million content views across platforms, including 492,000 Kanvas content views and 347, 000 content views.

There are a number of ways brands can advertise on Kanvas, including animated branded GIFs that will show up in a live stream, branded filters and branded live streams with company logos. For example, clothing brand Guess collaborated with Kanvas last year to promote its #GuessAllAccess campaign by live streaming an event the brand was hosting in Miami. A branded live stream aside, Guess also obtained a verified account and a branded filter to use for the live stream.

Singh is tight-lipped about Kanvas’ brand clients, ad pricing and the number of active users. He did tell Digiday, though, that the platform has around 3.5 million registered users and the majority are teenagers.

It’s hard to imagine how well Kanvas will fare against competitors like Periscope, Facebook Live, Snapchat and Twitch, all of which are scaling their broadcasts. Snapchat, for example, did a great job around the Super Bowl this year, allowing brands to run Live Story during the game. Facebook Live, on the other hand, will become a big playground for many publishers.

Where Kanvas may have a leg up with advertisers is that the app pairs the fun editing tools of Snapchat with the functionality of Periscope and a wealth of AOL content, said to Shawn Fenton, strategist at agency Grow. “I took a look at Kanvas and I felt really old right away,” said Fenton. “When you look at who their core audience is, I think it makes sense. When you are 13 to 18 years old, every moment seems important enough to broadcast to the world.”

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