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 Musical.ly 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.

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What We Made This Year: Product Update

Holy road map, Batman! If you’re familiar with Paladin, you know that early versions of our software were developed when YouTube was still an adolescent platform and when it was practically the only online venue for video creators. So much has changed since that time. For us 2017 was Paladin’s coming-out party, when we consolidated our tech solutions into a single platform and introduced a collection of features leading up to the launch of our brand campaign management solution.

One User, Multiple Social Media Accounts

If there was a theme to our tech development this year, it was a response to the increasingly multi-platform nature of our space. When the year started, you could sign in to Paladin (or apply to join a network using a Paladin dashboard) with YouTube but not including accounts from other platforms. But early in the year, we created One User Profiles. It’s a capability that enables creators to join or log in using multiple accounts, with platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. In turn, our software now aggregates and tracks the presence and performance of creator accounts across these platforms. Treating each creator as a single user with multiple accounts and data points has, by design, enabled new features that are advantageous for creators, networks, and brands.

Single Platform

Paladin was initially developed as three separate product suites: one each for network management, digital rights management, and talent discovery. Each had a slightly different user interface and required a separate login from customers who used more than one of these products.

Establishing Paladin as a single platform became a major goal in the evolution of our product. We achieved it in May, meaning our customers need to sign in only once to use multiple Paladin tools. Developing single-platform Paladin meant streamlining the design of each solution, and having a unified homepage from which our customers could easily jump from tool to tool. This change wasn’t only about ease of use. It was about a shift in mindset and organization, the idea that all the account and performance information Paladin collects on creators, individual network data (which is private to each network, of course), and more become a cohesive whole for comprehensive insights and tools that talk to one another.

(Here’s a related fun fact: Paladin actually has the largest private data trove of its kind, tracking over 20 billion views per month.)

Monetization & Payments

Payments were as much of a priority this year as they always are for us (hint: we like to say we’re a leader in creator payments). In particular, we added an Asset Manager tool to help assign and pay out YouTube revenue where no Asset Channel ID is available in YouTube’s reports, and we enabled support for automating YouTube Red Music payouts. The latter automatically calculates payment rates by country, eliminating hassle so our customers don’t have to manually do the math by region.

We also incorporated support for new revenue streams, YouTube’s Super Chat and Sponsorships features (now commonly used by esports and gaming creators) that fall within the YouTube Paid Features Report. This update makes it easy to handle the unique revenue arrangements that networks may have with specific creators for Super Chat and related features. To eliminate other manual headaches, we also added the ability to enter different revenue shares for videos on a partner’s own channel versus videos claimed on their behalf.

Staying one step ahead of new and revised payments reports is what we do.

Campaigns

Our biggest new solution of the year was our Social Campaign Management tool for managing brand campaigns across platforms including YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

Campaigns allows sales teams to easily find creators that align with the brand or agency being pitched, and to share beautiful, auto-generated RFP responses that are constantly updating with creators’ latest data.

Further, once a campaign has been sold, our customers can automatically track posts across each creator’s social media accounts. They can also aggregate data into automatically updated and shareable reports so third parties (usually brands) are always on the same page.

The bottom line is that Campaigns makes it way easier to package and pitch talent for brand campaigns, and to monitor campaign performance in real time.

Campaigns functionality continues to grow, and we’ll have exciting news to share on that front soon.

Data Insights

Having reliable data on individual talent, and aggregated across your network overall, is more complex and crucial than ever. We saw our clients struggling to aggregate data from multiple YouTube CMS accounts, as well as individual social accounts for each creator, so we dove into creating a solution.

With our Data Insights tool (now in beta), we leverage the power of the Paladin data warehouse to show a high-level snapshot of metrics such as views, followers, and more per platform across your network, as well as detailed analytics per creator so talent managers can audit performance and help creators grow with ease.

As our industry matures, having access to smartly organized business intelligence becomes increasingly mission-critical. It’s a way of making more informed decisions about creator roster and content creation choices, and even of determining the value and direction of your network.

Stay tuned for more about Data Insights in 2018. Finally, last but most important:

The People

This is not part of the platform, but we wouldn’t have the platform without these folks! We have two incredible teams of developers (one in Krakow, Poland; the other in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) whose discipline, talent, and productivity made our big year possible. We were also fortunate to have experienced team members branch out from their usual roles at Paladin and use their insight to inform our products. Our Head of Design project managed the development of the Campaigns tool, and a longtime Accounts Manager applied her knowledge of customer needs to our Creator Relationship Management dev team – ensuring that our network and creator dashboards continually evolve in response to client pain points.


If you’d like to learn more about any of the projects we described here, email us at [email protected]

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