Curastory is an online marketplace web app platform where digital marketers can connect with credible content creators and influencers, and place competitive bids for licenses to engaging media.
Frankie Kastenbaum - UX Designer
Gina Kim - UX Designer
Thomas Verdi - UX Designer
Working directly with Curastory's co-founder, Tiffany Kelly, and lead UX designer, Austin Schiffer, our team was assigned to create all elements of the digital marketer buyer flow. We designed the pathway for potential buyers to navigate Curastory's catalogue of content creators, and to place an offer on Curastory's unique bidding system.
Digital marketers often encounter the issue of purchasing branded content that is overly scripted or generic, resulting a in loss in a ROI due to a lack of audience engagement or impressions.
Content creators such as musicians, influencers and athletes also suffer creative restrictions when adhering to brand expectations, and have little agency over the narrative of the content they produce under sponsorships.
Curastory's marketplace system enables content creators to retain ownership of their media, empowering them to produce authentic narratives. Digital marketers can use Curastory to view trends, manage their portfolio, and bid for licensing rights through an open market system.
Unlike many competing media marketplaces, Curastory's main objective is to enable content creators to promote their own engaging narratives, rather than the usual scripted form of branded content. User research regarding media viewerships has found that narratives focused primarily on the influencers themselves often have significantly larger ROIs (return on interests) such as higher view counts, social media shares and off-line sales conversions.
Research and Design Strategy
"Curastory is the first to offer a transactional-based content monetization platform through a marketplace that has shortened, fixed-term content licenses."
- Tiffany Kelly, Co-founder
Popular influencer marketplace platforms like Social Native, Snips Media, Greenfly, or INFLCR only offer branded content through customization. They connect brands to an influencer to create content that the sponsor retains creative control over. Currently in media companies, deals are negotiated offline for longer-term contracts with specific influencers.
The driving mission statement of Curastory is to be the alternative to typical forms of branded content that followers disengage with. The curation process of their media catalogue offers real storylines that content creators know his or her following will want to engage with.
Our team first conducted interviews with a variety of digital marketers to understand how they determined which content to purchase, the metrics they used to determine successful user engagement, and what their current opinions on branded content were.
Through our interviews, we were able to collect and synthesize trends and insights from Curastory's potential buyer user base. Our research gave us a clearer understanding of the needs and pain points encountered by digital marketers in their current process of acquiring media content.
Interviewed a variety of digital marketers working in industries such as sports, entertainment and food
All had previous experience working with conventional branded content
Men & Women
Digital marketers want a more controllable way to filter out potential partners
A credible influencer with a large following that has the ability to dramatically spike traffic and awareness for sponsors
Content that contains relevant and unique narratives that has a lasting and authentic audience impression
After synthesizing our interview data into actionable insights, we created Tyler, our persona (a representative model of our ideal user).
He was a critical asset that enabled us to establish a point of reference for the data collected from our users. We also used him to represent the potential flow of actions digital marketers take in their task to acquire media for sponsorships, as well as their goals and pain points.
Tyler, Digital Marketer
Tyler is a digital marketer at a medium sized agency that focuses on the sale of fitness products. He is responsible for making partnerships with fitness influencers, and is turning to Curastory for access to new content and partners.
• I want to establish partnerships with influencers that resonate with current audiences.
• Most branded content is not to the standard of quality I need.
• Current branded content does not generate enough user engagement.
• I need a larger variety of high quality content in one consolidated platform.
• I need a better way to access credible and reliable content creators.
To gain a better understanding of how we can help digital marketers like Tyler, we created a visual representation, or storyboard, of a situation that can be resolved through Curastory's platform.
Our team prioritized the development of features that provided solutions for the current process in which digital marketers acquire media to meet KPIs.
These features are direct reflections of user data, such as goals and pain points and behaviors of digital marketers. These core features were fundamental to adding value to Curastory as a platform for media acquisition, from a marketer buyer flow perspective.
Feature 1 - Search Filter
The search refinement filter was an extremely requested feature from digital marketers during user interviews. A consolidated catalogue of media from a variety of content creators necessitated a powerful and intuitive search filtering tool.
The filtering system for Curastory's marketplace platform enables buyers to view advanced search results by sorting through relevant categories such as influencer following, price, media type, genres and past performances.
Feature 2 - Internal Calendar
Marketers using Curastory are able to schedule outreach to content creators through a synchronized internal calendar system. This enables users to receive a notification within the web app, as well as through their OS calendar.
The visibility of Curastory specific events such as the announcement for the result of an open bid, release dates for content and scheduled outreach can be toggled on and off through the left hand menu.
Feature 3 - Video Preview
Buyers and digital marketers can easily preview video media by pressing the Preview button underneath the video thumbnail.
Many of the digital marketers that our team had interviewed described how determining which media to purchase was a large pain point, and sought a more streamlined experience.
Feature 4- Data Analytics Dashboard
Data Analytics Dashboard
In addition to providing a consolidated marketplace for media acquisition, Curastory enables users to view performance analytics of content purchased through Curastory's marketplace.
Marketers are able to see audience engagement such as views, sharing and likes on content posted through social media accounts. They can also see an expected level of user engagement for specific content through Curastory's internal API algorithm.
Open bidding on curastory
One of the most integral features of Curastory's marketplace platform is the unique open bidding process for media acquisition.
Open bidding is a keystone feature the founders of Curastory requested our team to explicitly research and design for. It plays a foundational role in empowering content creators, and fostering an open market in which the value of media is determined through competitive offers.
Hi fidelity wireflow
Our team created a high fidelity wire flow of a digital marketer's potential path navigating Curastory's digital media marketplace.
The wireflow demonstrates various tasks that can be performed by the user, such as browsing through content after setting search preferences, placing bids, viewing their personal profile, viewing their analytics dashboard for media engagement and contacting contact creators.
Scenario and results
To test our initial design, we reached out to 4 different relevant users to determine if they were able to filter out the content they needed, place a bid with a curator, and view all of their metrics for owned content.
Task 1 - Finding A Fitness video with a high price point
The results for this task were that all users succeeded by clicking on marketplace, and finding the appropriate video. All users also utilized the filtering system to find the ideal video.
Task 2 - preview a video
3/4 users succeeded in locating the preview button on the market place after filtering out content. 1 user thought that the preview button was difficult to notice and suggested an onboarding process for first-time users.
Task 3 - Make an offer to a content creator
3/4 users succeeded in offering a bid with the curator of the video.Users understood that the curator listed was associated with the video made. 1 user had difficulty with the task, and thought they had to go to the “Open bids” tab to find an offer feature.
Task 4 - View The Metrics Of Currently Owned Content
4/4 users succeeded in looking for the metrics on the dashboard page. One user struggled, as they went through the marketplace tab, and then the profile tab, before realizing that the dashboard was where they viewed their metrics.
High Fidelity Design
Complete User Flow
A video demonstration of the user flow displayed in the digital marketer wireflow.
Suggestions for curastory
At the end of our contract term with Curastory, my team and I developed a plan to assist the founders with future web app development and design.
The first component that will be crucial to developing Curastory is the alignment of the Buyer flow with the Content Creator flow. The UX lead for Curastory's Content Creator flow will be responsible for synchronizing and incorporating features from our Buyer flow to make a consistent, branded experience. Additional rounds of usability tests are also necessary to discover areas of improvement in the current Buyer flow. Although the results of our initial tests were generally successful, an expanded scope for testing would be ideal for pre-launch.