The way we engage today in this highly connected world is transforming constantly and the boom of online video is one aspect which cannot be ignored. VidCon has emerged as a remarkably new medium, placing itself at the epicenter of this transformation.
The event is meant for people with similar passions to converge and connect with each other as well as organizations/businesses who are interested in teaching and learning the techniques of this emerging industry. It brings an online video rising star, established entity or a simple fan all under one roof to celebrate what they love.
What is VidCon?
The creators of the successful YouTube channel ‘Vlogbrothers’, John and Hank Green started VidCon in 2010 for people who wanted to connect in real life after meeting on the internet. Even since it’s inception, the event has expanded manifold – more than 30,000 people. For several past years, the event has been held in the Anaheim Convention Center and it continues to be home for it.
VidCon is regarded as an experience for all those who work in the online video industry and also the keen viewers who love it. It aims to bring together a global community that has complete faith in the rise of online video being the most influential cultural force of the internet era.
Some Key Takeaways From VidCon 2018
VidCon 2018 was held from 20th to 23rd June at their usual location – Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California, United States. We followed the event closely and here are a few key VidCon takeaways that stand out.
- Creators now function like Companies:
The first baby steps of a social media star are always something as basic as webcam videos made from their rooms. But as they begin to garner more attention, it’s quite a norm for them to hir managers and other staff to look after the production, social media and more. At a VidCon 2018 panel about brand deals, YouTube Gamer “StacyPlays” mentioned that “We’re all companies at this point.” Creators are working hard to maintain their brand and are therefore building teams to reach that goal efficiently.
- Creators want to be authentic with Branded Content:
With creators constantly pushing the boundaries with their content, brands are finding ways to associate with them for shared benefits. But it often causes the brand to strive for complete control. Creators do not want to give off the feeling of “selling a product” to their audience. Brand partnerships which result naturally and are of the long-term nature are what creators are more inclined to. “Fine Brothers” mentioned the clause in their brand contracts which allows them to ignore 50% of the edits that the brand proposes, giving them the control to remain authentic. “Kurt Schnider” also mentioned that his brand partnerships are heavily aligned to what his fans expect from him and then the brand can act as the hero of the video in an authentic way.
- Creators should strive for a positive impact on the world:
One major observation about today’s young viewers is that they wish to do good and want to see more of that done by their favorite creators to keep them motivated. This is the reason why a lot of successful creators have their focus on important messages of empowerment, inclusion, and diversity. “Kati Morton” a rising YouTuber who creates content to support people with mental illness was featured at YouTube’s Annual Keynote at VidCon 2018. The Community Track Sessions at the event had more than 25 sessions talking about topics like feminism, sexuality, racial equality, cyberbullying, and more.
- Pre-Roll Ads are no longer the only revenue source for Creators:
Pre-Roll Ads are not a consistent source of revenue for Creators considering the low CPMs and dependence on the platform algorithms. Therefore, smarter ways for revenue generation has emerged which includes brand partnerships, merchandise sales, live shows, and premium content subscriptions. YouTube’s new product announcements (more on that later in the blog) focus on features that allow Creators to earn revenue beyond ads. YouTube released some important statistics which highlighted that 50% of channels using FameBit (their brand sponsorships platform) have doubled their revenue in the first three months of 2018 whereas 65% of channels using SuperChat have doubled their live stream revenue.
- Focus has shifted to Engagement and not just Views:
Brands are trying to utilize the shifting consumer behavior towards mobile and social media platforms by ensuring that their focus is on engagement with branded content which ultimately drives purchase. Engagement is the brands top priority when it comes to influencer partnerships. Views and Subscribers are secondary metrics. Jay Holzer (Head of Linear Programming at Tastemade) mentioned that their team’s primary focus is on Watch Time over Views as their aim is to ensure viewers return to their page based on real connection.
- Brands are yet to utilize the rise of e-sports:
E-sports has led to the birth of a highly engaged demographic who is willing to stream hours of gaming content without any breaks. Brands are surely surprised by that and are yet to utilize it to reach this audience in an authentic way. Industry experts have been encouraging brands to find strategic ways to fit games that resonate well with the brand not just chase after the popular ones. One successful partnership case study was featured at VidCon 2018 – Hot Pockets’ 2017 social campaign had a dedicated marketing budget for around 20 gamers which ultimately caused 6-7% business lift. This is one major VidCon takeaway that brands need to pay attention to.
- Experiences now need to be interactive & Instagram-friendly:
The boom of social media has not only impacted our consumption behavior but also our general preferences. Gen Z wants their event experience to be highly interactive and something which is Instagram friendly. VidCon 2018’s Expo Hall was designed suiting these two needs. Brands got creative with what they can do to attract people’s attention and keep them engaged in a real-life setting. There were a variety of things seen – photo walls, mini-photo rooms, ball pits, merch claw machines, specific hashtag signs and more.
- Content responsibility now falls on platforms:
In the online world, platforms that support UGC content have an ongoing struggle to create safe communities where freedom of speech is rightly balanced. At VidCon 2018, many creators were of the opinion that platforms are responsible for closely monitoring their platform content which deters inappropriate and harassing content. At a panel, vlogger Jana Hisham pointed out that such content reviews for featured and trending videos should be carried out by real people instead of bots. Twitch’s co-founder Kevin Lin also stated in his keynote speech that they have a “responsibility to create a safe environment for creators and fans.”
- Platform-specific Multi-Format Videos are becoming a norm:
The race to be the primary destination for video content is heating up between YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitch. Each platform has come up with major video-centric features keeping in mind the rise of video consumption. This means that sooner or later platform-specific multi-format videos will be the norm of the industry. Creators seem to have mixed feelings about this – some of them are exhausted with the requirement to fine-tune their content for each platform’s demographic and viewing structure and would love to focus on just one. While some others, especially new creators are thrilled with the availability of multiple platforms to experiment their content on.
- Creators now function like Companies:
Top News & Big Announcements At VidCon 2018
All the top social platforms have started to actively leverage VidCon as an anchor for their big product announcements considering the relevant audience that it attracts. So, here are the big news and announcements that took place at VidCon 2018.
- Instagram’s Answer To YouTube With IGTV:
Right before VidCon kicked off, Instagram announced it’s vertical video-centric service called IGTV which would function both inside the current app and as a standalone app. This was the platform’s answer to compete against long-form video content as IGTV would support up to one-hour length vertical videos to be shared in a channel format with different browsing categories. Currently the IGTV vertical is not supported by advertisements for creator monetization but later at VidCon 2018, Jackson Williams, an Instagram Executive mentioned that the monetization feature is likely to be introduced by the end of 2019.
- YouTubers Get New Monetization Opportunities:
YouTube at their VidCon 2018 Keynote made major announcements regarding new platform updates for a YouTuber to be able to generate revenue apart from just ads. These features include Channel Memberships, Premieres, and Merchandise Sales.
- Facebook’s New Features For Creator Support:
Before VidCon 2018, Facebook also launched some new features which aimed mainly at supporting the platform’s creator community. The announcements include – Watch platform launch and specifics, Brand Collabs Manager which is meant for enhancing video discoverability and also facilitating partnerships involving influencers, Creator App and Facebook for Creators Launchpad which is a limited program by the platform to cultivate long-form content.
- Creator Grant Program By VidCon:
VidCon wants to help creators realize their dreams and have come up with the Creator Grant Program for that purpose. Hank Green, the co-founder of VidCon, made this announcement which is to roll out $104,000 through 52 weekly $2000 grants. However, this VidCon Creator Grant Program does require a certain eligibility criterion for small creators to make use of it. A VidCon instituted Committee will be responsible for the selection of the recipients and the usage of the Grant is at the winner’s discretion.
- Instagram’s Answer To YouTube With IGTV:
So, which VidCon takeaway and highlight you found most useful for your video knowledge? Let us know in the comments section below.
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I love to explore challenging opportunities in the field of Digital Media. Primarily, my skills revolve around Digital Video in terms of Content Strategy/Marketing, Analysis and Audience Development. My natural affinity towards diverse audio-visual content across platforms helps me develop a multitude of perspectives. In totality - I'm a keen learner, collector of new enriching experiences and have an undying conviction to always stay curious in life!