VidCon US 2018 – Top Takeaways From the World of Online Video

Last week marked my annual pilgrimage to the land of screaming tweens and selfie sticks: VidCon. This year 30,000+ creators, fans, and industry representatives descended on the Anaheim Convention Center to celebrate the world of online video. But just as the video ecosystem evolves with each passing year, this year’s 9th annual VidCon brought its fair share of changes too. Here are my top takeaways:


1. Platform Competition is Heating Up

Social media platforms are vying for IRL attention just as much as they compete for digital audiences’ clicks, views, and watchtime. YouTube, a longtime VidCon sponsor, delivered a keynote about building online communities and hosted one of the conference’s most popular parties. Amazon sponsored the industry lounge while Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitch hosted lavish creator lounges. Pinterest and Instagram offered seminars to help creators succeed on their platforms, and teamed up with UTA to host a Friday night happy hour for influencers and industry track attendees. Even LinkedIn put together a panel highlighting its emerging influencer community.


2. VidCon is now a Tentpole for Major Product Announcements

Not only did the social platforms have a major presence for the first time this year, but they’ve started leveraging the conference as an anchor for big product announcements. Just days before VidCon, Facebook announced its Brands Collab Manager to connect brands and influencers for sponsorship opportunities, and Instagram launched IGTV as a long-form video app for creators. Not to be outdone, YouTube took advantage of the event to introduce Premieres and other new revenue streams for creators, including channel memberships and merchandise.


3. Re-Investing in Upcoming Creators is Essential

During his annual keynote, VidCon founder Hank Green announced a new program to provide $2,000 grants to a different aspiring influencer each week for the next year. This VidCon Creator Grant Program will help emerging creators invest in better equipment and higher quality content.


4. Panel Diversity is on the Rise

There was noticeably more variety in session programming for all conference tracks this year, showcasing different voices and offering fresh perspectives. The speaker lineup included more representation from traditional Hollywood, large brand advertisers, and sports leagues. Session content ranged widely too, from key content verticals like children’s entertainment and esports to practical tips for creators and marketers like identifying fake followers and diversifying monetization streams. I was fortunate to moderate a particularly fascinating discussion about the psychology of digital media on adolescents with Dr. Jessica Taylor Piotrowski from the Center for Research on Children, Adolescents, where we dug into how youth are affected by media consumption.


5. TanaCon Succeeded (Kinda)

Sure, Tana Mongeau’s attempt to organize a competing fan event was ultimately canceled due to concerns over creator security. But the moral of TanaCon is the massive community response. It’s clear that some creators don’t feel as welcome at VidCon and that fans are eager for more personal ways to connect with their favorite influencers. The outcome here (overwhelming demand and overcrowding) proves the success of the model, so expect to see more satellite events offering a more direct-to-fan experience eat into the VidCon audience in the future, especially for more controversial influencers and niche communities.

All told, this year’s VidCon was bigger and more successful than ever, demonstrating the continued growth and potential of the online video industry. Social platforms are offering more tools to help influencers create and monetize content, fans are eager for more ways to interact with the creators they love, and traditional media companies are finally figuring out how to program for online audiences. Now, it’s up to marketers to understand how to best leverage these trends to build passion brands in the new age of the influencer.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Why TwitchCon Isn’t Just Another VidCon

Conventions in the online video and social media space have a few things in common. Expensive parking is likely, food selection is limited, and crowds are inescapable. Going into these events, you tend to have a good understanding of what you’re dealing with before showing up. For me, my first time at TwitchCon was different.

It wasn’t just the convention. The entire platform and its community caught me completely off-guard. Fan-centric events, such as VidCon, Comic-Con, and TwitchCon, serve as a proverbial litmus test of the audience that each platform (or special interest) attracts.

The Fan Base Isn’t Tweens. It’s Adults.

The demographics of the Twitch community, particularly age, are unique. At VidCon, you expect to see hordes of screaming teens chasing the latest vlogger or singer, hoping to grab a selfie for Instagram.

TwitchCon couldn’t have been more different. The audience is much older.  Standing in line Friday morning, waiting for the masses to clear security, I noticed right away that fans were nearly all older millennials. Granted, a Friday in October is a school day, but never have I seen 30-year-olds line up to see a creator at VidCon, let alone attend the event in such large quantities.

I think this speaks to the content that Twitch streamers are producing and who their superfans are. Older millennials were able to catch the video gaming wave right from the start. They tend to prefer a console or PC-based game, compared to younger gamers who play mobile-based games. Twitch built its platform to serve the PC gamer and has successfully become the go-to platform for its superfan community.

Brand Integrations Reflect the Audience Contrast

The second thing that stood out to me was that the most integrated brand sponsors were more aggressive than those at YouTube-centric events. If VidCon seemed to be a giant commercial for candy companies this year, then TwitchCon has the same feel. For energy drinks.

It’s clear what’s powering the streaming world: it’s high-octane energy rations.  G-Fuel, 5-Hour Energy, and other similar products were all happy to demo why their product is the go-to. Needless to say, I found it hard to sleep after a day of ‘testing’ them for myself.

The point I want to share with you is this: It’s worth attending events like this to shape how you think about each platform and the community it serves.

Previously, I thought the Twitch and YouTube committees looked pretty similar (in fact, I would have thought Twitch would skew younger). Now I see the potential to tap into a more mature audience, which has a higher level of freedom (independent from parents) and disposable income.

An older audience comes with some advantages that YouTube may need a few more years to develop. Event marketing is a great example. We know 20-30 year olds are spending more money on experiences than other demographics.  Building a content strategy that targets this new business model seems easier on Twitch. I’d love to see a broadcaster partner with a major hotel brand to produce a live travel show.

Twitch Isn’t Just for Gamers

I also learned far more about the opportunities on the platform.  For instance, if you’re going to start a cooking channel, ask yourself, could it be a live show on Twitch?  There’s far less competition in the non-gaming verticals, and since Twitch aims to serve broader interest groups, they appear to favor other creators in promotional efforts (compared to gaming streamers).

A notable example of a broadcaster that takes advantage of Twitch creatively is the Bob Ross channel. The Twitch stream is managed by the company behind the iconic television show and merchandise empire (Bob Ross Inc.). It’s a great business case to look at when thinking about breathing new life into an older concept, while reaching a brand-new audience.

Other growing communities, outside of gaming, are cooking and lifestyle-focused channels and audiences. CannibalQueen ( recently made the transition from a games-focused channel. Now her show is based around cooking while talking about movies and games. She even does movie nights with her fans.

TwitchCon is an important reminder of how versatile the online video and streaming platforms, and audiences, can be. The first-hand TwitchCon experience forced me to learn, and to ask questions that I already thought I had answered. Stay tuned. This film production major is thinking perhaps the world needs a live show focused on the digital media business!

Paladin’s technology helps media companies, multi-channel networks (MCNs), and influencer marketing agencies save time and scale their businesses with tools for talent discovery, creator relationship management, content protection, data insights, and social campaign management. Learn more about our platform. 

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Request a demo

We would be happy to provide a custom
demo of our solutions.







We'll be in touch with you shortly to arrange your custom demo.