Jamie Searle, Director of Distribution25th June 2018
Spoilt for choice - Video strategy at Vidcon 2018
Key takeouts from Vidcon 2018
Another interesting Vidcon US, and the 5th consecutive year we have attended. Vidcon always represents an opportunity for attendees to hear directly from the platforms about new strategy announcements, and discuss latest industry developments with clients and connections.
A very clear multi-platform focus for the convention this year saw product, strategy and social video audience development panels from Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more. For the first time Vidcon US felt like it was demonstrably beyond YouTube in its focus, which just 2 years ago was the only platform with any scale at the event. This exemplifies the incredible pace of change within our industry.
Alongside the traditional YouTube Keynote, top execs from the other social video platforms all had their ‘Update’ slots in the main ballroom.
So what were the key takeaways this year for Media and Entertainment property owners such as Brave Bison?
For me the agenda set out the new strategic choices that creators and publishers face, I'll break down the big 3 as follows:
1. What's the platform of choice?
As well as a content strategy, more than ever a platform strategy is required.
Success on each platform requires bespoke audience development, technical operations expertise and presents different options for storytelling not just in platform, but across platforms. Some platforms take longer to build audiences than others. Do you need a YouTube channel when you can now build an audience on IGTV with longer form social video?
It’s an investment decision. In a world where it may be cost prohibitive to manage multiple platforms, where should you prioritise?
Even within platform there are choices to be made, for example in their newsfeed keynote, Facebook advised that focusing on Stories was increasingly important, alongside uploading videos in pages, or episodic content in Facebook Watch.
Each social video platform is differentiating themselves with their approach to creators, to try and attract them to use their platform. With a potential audience now across multiple platforms it will be the more entrepreneurial and strategic creators that succeed. It feels like it is the start of a move away from defining creators as ‘YouTubers’ or single ‘platform’ defined creators.
Key to success on your chosen platform is understanding the resource and tactics required to manage the presence on each. For example, will you be able to manage live broadcasts? ‘Watch parties’? A facebook group? AND, be able to create and upload sufficient video content? These are all huge decisions for creators.
2. What is the value proposition on each platform?
With increased heterogeneity of audiences and types of content being created, there comes a diversification of monetisation models both across and within platforms.
The range of direct and indirect monetisation offerings by platforms extends to:
- Direct / Creator specific subscriber revenue
- Premium SVOD Revenues (e.g. YouTube premium)
- Merchandising in platform
- Brand collaboration tools (YouTube’s Famebit, FB’s ‘Brands Collab Manager’)
- Direct advertising funded revenue (often different types in platform) Snapchat has just announced an extension of its Shows format to creators, ostensibly providing an advertising revenue stream.
- Rights management (Monetisation vs Takedown varies across platform).
- Tipping or gifting, virtual goods.
To add further complexity (and frustration), some of these tactics and tools are available only in the US or are in closed beta.
A big consideration in where you might focus your resource on the above, is whether you are looking to creating an engaged community, which either lends itself to branded content, or is the focus of more of a traditional studio model - creating original shows formats. Doing both is possible but challenging.
Further, should you bet on building a community on platforms to get a first mover advantage that may not currently monetise, but promise future rewards.
3. What's caused the shift from ‘Community’ to ‘Communities'?
Fundamentally the answer to the above questions lie in not what type of creator you are, or whether you are and influencer or a publisher, it is about understanding your communities and what draws them to your content, and also how they like to engage with it.
Facebook has shifted from ‘consumption’ to ‘connection’ and this is driving newsfeed engagement. Many are seeing huge success in engaging with their communities through Facebook groups, where members can get a much closer access to the creator and can contribute to the content.
Success for creators used to be about having an active community. Now creators should recognise that they need to have heterogeneous communities on different platforms (but don’t necessarily need to be all platforms). There is a new segmentation of audiences and they are even different on Facebook Watch and IGTV for example. There is an emerging community of work focused Linked In Creators. There are different demographic and addressable audience considerations; different audiences enjoy different genres of content, and engaging in different ways.
In the Twitch Update, even though we can see that they are bringing on different types of content verticals and rights-holders it was barely mentioned in the update. Their culture and seemingly priority is fundamentally to be a platform where creators can build communities of gaming enthusiasts who like to comment alongside live video. In what they do, more so than any platform, they put creator monetisation models and rewarding engagement with revenue at the heart of their mission statement. As a creator you would do well on Twitch if you live stream all the time (like 20+ hours a week) and are able to have constant engagement with your audience in the feed.
If you are building channels, clearly identifying your communities is crucial, and from here a sustainable business model should emerge. Don’t lose sight of the fact that your communities are fans, not just a subscriber number - they are people that come back time and time again to engage with your content. Keep focused on what it is you are doing to encourage these behaviours and consider how you can constantly add and capture more value from communities.