Home Mobile Teen Polling App Wishbone: ‘We’re The Intersection Of Advertising And Content’

Teen Polling App Wishbone: ‘We’re The Intersection Of Advertising And Content’


Entrepreneur and investor Peter Pham knows teens, and the term “native advertising,” like, totally makes him roll his eyes.

“I’m sick of hearing the word ‘native’ because nothing I’ve seen in the market is actually native to the experience,” said Pham, co-founder of Science, a tech incubator with a knack for getting startups off the ground, including DogVacay (it’s like Airbnb for dogs), Dollar Shave Club (which Unilever just acquired for a cool $1 billion) and teen voting app Wishbone.

“Most of the native you see out there is either tricking users or not doing much more than matching the font on the page,” he said.

But there’s no need to get deceptive if the experience makes sense, and Wishbone, which lets users compare and vote on social content, is a good example of how content and ads can comfortably commingle.

The concept is simple: Two options are pitted against each other – two dresses, two hairdos, two actresses, two different shades of lipstick, “Teen Wolf” vs. “Pretty Little Liars” – and users pick and share their preference.

Users create most of the content and Wishbone curates it. After users cast their vote, they can see the percentages of what others chose. Wishbone selects and features the 12 most interesting ones every morning and every evening in a special section.

“We’re giving users permission to talk about the brands, styles and products they love,” Pham said. “They create the content themselves and we give them distribution and an audience. We validate their opinions and we help them share their opinions.”

And those opinions matter. Wishbone’s audience of 5 million monthly actives is 91% female and falls mostly between the ages of 13 and 25.

“People are constantly changing their tastes and what’s hot today won’t necessarily be hot tomorrow,” Pham said. “Every day there’s a new hairstyle, new clothes, a new product, a hot new brand or celebrity or piece of gossip for our users to engage with.”

In that sense, Wishbone serves as a platform for a form of immediate crowdsourced market research. Wishbone users create several million polls a month and cast around 25 million votes per day.

“We know what people like and what they don’t like because they tell us,” said Pham. “And depending on that, brands can start to figure out what these users are interested in.”


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Far from being turned off by brands, Wishbone users often choose to compare brands or products in the polls they create.

“Typically, brands think hitting people with videos and display ads will convert them,” Pham said. “What they don’t always recognize is Nike can’t say it’s better than Adidas and Coke can’t say it’s better than Pepsi – the message has to come from someone the consumer follows and trusts.”

Brands can get in on the action, as long as they’re cognizant of the platform for which they’re producing the content.

In a recent campaign Wishbone ran with Taco Bell, users were asked cutesy questions related to the brand’s new breakfast menu, like “What’s a better price for breakfast?” [Choices: a picture of a $1 bill or a picture of a $5 bill].

Two million users engaged with the Taco Bell content. A separate campaign for Victoria’s Secret’s Pink line generated more than 1.5 million opens and a 26% click-through rate.

“We’re the intersection of advertising and content,” Pham said. “People aren’t being fooled into consuming ads, they’re actively engaging with them.”

This is the second installment of Home Screen, a series of profiles on mobile pubs and apps and the devs that make them (and hopefully make money on them). Read about home decor app Luxwedding planner platform The Knotlip-syncing app Musical.lypop culture magazine Movie Pilotnews app News Republicon-demand laundry app Cleanlymusic streaming app LaMusicaP2P global shopping app Grabrkid-friendly chat app Jet.medriving app Dashanonymous app Whisperstorytelling app Episodeweather app Poncho, online writing community Wattpad and sticker app Emogi.

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