Find your voice and get your story straight
Busking on WeTransfer. A new model for online advertising?

Busking on WeTransfer. A new model for online advertising?

I’ve had cause to send several large, camel-sized files recently to clients whose firewalls act like the eye of a needle.

The alternative options in these circumstances include Basecamp (for clients with whom we have Basecamp communications already set up) or third party services such as YouSendIt. These work just fine. I’d even have gone as far as to say that they were good solutions.

Until I looked at WeTransfer that is.

WeTransfer is cool, slick, user-friendly and free.

No sign-up required.

It’s an elegant, borderline minimalist, point and shoot, zero friction web app for file transfers up to 2GB.

And it gets cooler and cooler the closer you look.

What appear at first glance to be a series of understated and arty wallpaper backgrounds are actually ads. But not what you or I would recognise as online display advertising.

The ads are more like sponsored art. No copy and a discreet tab at the bottom of the screen that serves the dual purpose of “branding” and a link through to the sponsor’s site.

This is advertising as busking. Buskers share some art in return for loose change. These ads share art in return for clicks.

And it’s clever.

It feels less obtrusive than conventional display advertising.

But the minimalist design of the site means that you find yourself filtering the sponsor tab in, rather than filtering it out.

And, on their information site, WeTransfer claim that “advertisers” have enjoyed click-through rates of up to 5% and site traffic increases of up to 600%.

In fact, and maybe this is just me, I think the presence of this kind of advertising is actually reassuring. When a service is so easy to use, doesn’t ask you to sign up, and is free, you wonder what the catch is. And the realisation that it’s all made possible by advertising takes that suspicion away.

It turns out though that there’s more to the WeTransfer business model than a clever approach to advertising.

They also sell bespoke, branded, advertising-free channels (including your own branded subdomain) for $120/annum.

And there is a white label option for companies that can make it work at $2,500/month.

Like Hipstamatic, here is an app that is not only very good at what it does, but which also appears to have its commercial ducks in a row.

It also has its social and word of mouth ducks in row. The service is active on Twitter, and has a very healthy community on Facebook, where there are active conversations and competitions plus some interesting content like an application that gives live streaming data from the WeTransfer servers about the file types that are being transferred.

So just as the November winner of Neil Perkin’s Post of the Month competition is a post about execution being more important about ideas, here is a classic example. WeTransfer is the same basic idea as YouSendIt but its execution is far superior in my humble opinion.


  1. Lachlan

    Wetransfer is ideal for “send and forget” files. Eg, we send audio OMF files that are only useful to the end user and we don’t need to keep a copy. These are large and do not need archiving. I try and use sponsored Wetransfer such as and history. to get the 28 day expiry option.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.