Top 5 takeaways from VidCon 2018

Among a sweaty soup of 30,000 influencers, fans and industry experts, VidConUS – the California conference on online video – provided an interesting minestrone of the shifting digital landscape. With titbits from influencers and platforms alike, here’s your appetiser to what the future holds.

Influencer marketing is here to stay

With cult-like fervour, fans lined the walls day and night, seeking the ultimate goal: a selfie. Weeping tweens were commonplace, proffering hands that had simply brushed the shoulder of Kurt Schneider.

Creators are truly dominating the video market, and it’s with sluggish enthusiasm that brands are beginning to capture their audience effectively. Over 84% of all YouTube views in the last four months were gained by influencers; fandoms ripe for the picking.

‘Authenticity’ was ironically bandied about as influencers posed, re-posed and posed again. But that’s behind the scenes—it’s what their fans deem as authentic that really offers brands unique sway in purchasing power. The influencer revolution is maturing, and with it the language: micro, macro, rising, mega-stars, thought leaders, minestrone, tomato, corn chowder…oh, wait.

Go live or go home

Equipped with its latest data, Magid Media announced its recent global findings—reporting that 52% of all internet users watch live content weekly, with 37% of 18-34 year olds watching daily. Statistica has also cited 81% growth in live content consumption since 2016, heralding a new dawn of fidelity for influencers and their fans.

Live streaming is already dominating content in China and, with algorithms prioritising the format in feeds, brands need to develop streaming strategies to reap the rewards of this highly engaging medium.

TV is not dead

Digital devices may have surpassed TV as the primary entertainment source among millennials for the first time, but TV isn’t going anywhere. With the increasing behaviour of dual screening and the announcement of IGTV, the line is continually blurring between traditional TV and online video content.

Don’t let its vertical format fool you, IGTV is very much a television channel for a new age. With the ability to create up to 10-minute pre-recorded content, the platform lends itself to brands and creators taking centre stage. This is a significant step up from YouTube’s current offering, with a premium option of 60 minutes for pre-approved creators ensuring quality over mass-produced content.

The growth of e-sports

E-sports is a phenomenon that isn’t slowing down. Brands need to harness this rich engagement, as users often remain on a platform for hours at a time with very few breaks. Hot Pockets was one of the most recent brands to engage with this digital medium, working with 20 gaming influencers and achieving a 6-7% lift in global sales

It was no surprise that Twitch made its first appearance at VidCon this year. The streaming platform is driven predominantly by e-sports and competitive gaming, with the average viewer watching 106 minutes of content a day.

Money, money, monetisation

The relationship between brands and influencers has been a turbulent one, but with the increasing sophistication of influencer monetisation models, the landscape is evolving. Hot on the heels of the Facebook subscription announcement, YouTube followed suit with a monthly membership service for creators to offer to their fans.

As their influence among the younger generations continues to grow, creators are also getting smarter; no longer will a freebie suffice. Ultimately, they themselves are a brand and the modern celebrities for many audiences—they know this well, to the detriment of many a marketing budget.

It’s more important than ever for marketers to keep an ear to the ground as the digital ecosystem continues to flourish. With developments in hyperdrive, this appetiser of the current landscape could be redundant almost as quickly as you consume it.