Companies Tout the success of short-form social videos

The Wall Street Journal launches WorldStream, which leverages technology startup Tout, to let its reporters shoot short videos on their smartphones and quickly post them to augment traditional coverage of breaking news.

In the news
The Wall Street Journal launches WorldStream, which leverages technology startup Tout, to let its reporters shoot short videos on their smartphones and quickly post them to augment traditional coverage of breaking news.

Why does it matter?
Launched about two years ago out of the Stanford Research Institute, Tout has been described as Twitter for video as it allows users to make and share 15-second videos.

Tout CEO Michael Downing says the company wants to leverage the real-time visual Web to change the way people communicate. "The big idea was to create a powerful tool to help drive real-time conversation. So we set up the 15-second artificial constraint to keep the conversation moving."

Tout has quickly been used by traditional media. Last year, Tout introduced a premium service for content companies, including The Wall Street Journal, World Wrestling Entertainment, and Britain's Sky TV.

"We're a consumer-facing platform," adds Downing, "but we also give companies a dashboard so they can monitor how much engagement they're getting and track and measure ROI."

Michael Young, SVP at Access Communications, suggests Tout, like Facebook and Twitter, could be a valuable PR tool. "Fifteen seconds doesn't seem like much, but neither did 140 characters. It's both very limiting, but also a very expansive canvas, and one of the increasing compression of formats," he says. "For brands, it continues that progression of providing more access to consumers."

Key facts
1. More than 160 million of Tout's 15-second updates were viewed in the company's first 20 months.

2. While The Wall Street Journal requested its journalists be allowed to send Touts up to 45 seconds long, the average length of the videos sent by reporters in the first three months was 14 seconds.

3. Shaquille O'Neal was the first celebrity to use Tout when he created a short video in 2011 to announce his retirement from professional basketball.

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