On the first morning of VidCon, about 100 marketing industry people assembled in a room in the Anaheim Convention Center to learn about the business of being a creator today. To one panelist, a solution for the hundreds of creators wandering the floors below lies in blockchain technology.
“The power is not on an arbitrary decision-maker,” said Jake Branzburg, head of marketing at YouNow. “On YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, [creators] can be demonetized overnight. [The benefits go to] content creators, developers, and frankly, the users that are supporting them.”
VidCon, the annual conference for the digital video industry, may have started with stars who build a business on YouTube. But YouTube’s brand-safety efforts have demonetized smaller channels, and even YouTube’s top creators saw their ad revenue drop over the last year. The continued unease has led creators to look beyond YouTube for growth. Some creators have entered the blockchain frenzy by working with platforms like YouNow and Brave. Others are growing their personal brand by creating and selling merchandise.
“Creators are increasingly acting as entrepreneurs,” said Zach Blume, co-founder and managing director of digital studio Portal A. “This begins with their massive following on YouTube, but is extending to new areas such as original IP, book publishing, apparel and merchandise sales, launching their own production companies, live events and much more.”
When it comes to merchandising, Amazon has been making its pitch. The e-commerce giant was a sponsor at this year’s VidCon, and for Amazon, it’s not about touting Prime Video. Merch by Amazon offers creators a way to produce and sell branded merchandise on demand. YouTube-focused creators such as Hannah Hart and Shane Dawson create both T-shirts and PopSockets. Amazon’s pitch to creators is there are no upfront costs or inventory risk, as in they won’t end up with a bunch of unsold products in a warehouse.
“The creator gets paid when something sells. You build this great selection and have no great expense in doing so. It really builds a long-standing relationship,” said Ivan Lopez, Amazon’s head of strategic partnerships, on the panel.
Indeed, fans at VidCon donned creator-branded T-shirts, hats and pins. Creators also wore their own, apparently not a faux pas among the YouTube community.
You see, my fellow jokers (and joker-ettes!!), the joke here is that many Youtubers already wear their own merch, especially at conventions such as these. Enjoy the chuckles and keep those goofs and gags merry!
Your ol' Uncle Jack
— jacksfilms is vidcon (@jacksfilms) June 20, 2018
“A lot of YouTubers sell crap,” said actor Olan Rogers on a panel about merchandising. “I remember someone sold a shirt that said, ‘Yes.’ I try to reach out to designers and make something that I would want to wear. If you’re not going to buy something that you sell, don’t sell it.”
“I sell hoodies, and I wear them all the time,” said Dean Dobbs, of YouTube channel Jack and Dean, during the same panel.
Beyond ad revenue and merchandise, some creators are benefiting from subscriptions through platforms like Patreon. Wyatt Jenkins, vp of product at Patreon, said that for those who create on a regular basis, “they now have the option to turn their passion into a career by creating a membership.”
Yet platforms in attendance at VidCon pitched themselves as fair partners to creators. Instagram and Snapchat each lured creators into their exclusive spaces at the event to chat up their new tools and other strategies for creators. Meanwhile, livestreaming app LiveMe hosted a booth on the show floor, where every hour, they shot actual cash out over the crowd. Indeed, LiveMe creators thrive from in-app tipping rather than an ad-supported model.
With all the grievances about YouTube, creators to marketers didn’t call for the end of the platform. During the blockchain panel, Rhize CEO Marie Leaf pointed out the platform’s democratic nature.
“I hate the Uberization of stuff, but the taxicab service, it was all centralized,” Leaf said. “What Uber did was allow the average driver to come onto the system. I would liken that to what YouTube does today — the average person can become a creator.”
For more analysis and our top stories on digital video, TV and entertainment, subscribe our weekly Video Briefing email.
Florist brand uses video to connect with families during the holiday season
FTD LLC, also known as Florists' Transworld Delivery, is looking to stand out during the holiday season through connected TV with the goal to drive brand recognition and incremental traffic.
Why this luxury hotel chain bets on user generated content’s ‘power of the people’
As UGC becomes more important in today's growing creator economy, Red Carnation Hotels holds steadfast to relying on it.
Is the future of metaverse advertising cross-platform activations?
Some marketers believe this type of cross-platform activation is the future of metaverse advertising — but not everyone is convinced quite yet.
SponsoredPublishers are adapting advertising strategies for a privacy-first world
Tina Iannacchino, senior publisher director, Seedtag So much of the attention around the death of third-party cookies and its impact on the digital advertising industry is focused on the implications for brands and consumers, which is far from the complete picture. The digital publishing industry in the U.S. is massive and set to be shaken […]
Member ExclusiveMarketing Briefing: ‘The answer is no’: Why agencies need to reject RFPs with egregiously extended payment terms
Despite the abnormality of the 360-day request, the focus from some clients and procurement officers on extending payment windows has many calling for agencies to reject participating in pitches with such requests going forward.
Member ExclusiveDigiday+ Research: Brands won’t cut ad spend until 2023, but they will shift from branding to direct response
For now, brands don't have significant plans to cut ad spend in Q4 despite the economy, but they do have plans to shift their advertising from branding to direct response.