This past weekend, top online video companies and key industry players took to the stage at the 9th annual VidCon in Anaheim, Calif. to chat about the state of digital media and share product updates. Among the most influential: keynote sessions from Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube.
Facebook’s Session: “Facebook Creator Update”
Facebook had a bigger presence at VidCon than ever before, and their focus was clear: to help creators build sustainable, lucrative personal brands on Facebook.
Chris Hatfield, Product Manager at Facebook, outlined the various ways that creators can make money on the platform: using ad breaks, fan subscriptions, and sponsorship deals. Hatfield shared that ad breaks are slowly expanding to more creators in the United States, with priority given to creators pushing out longer, more “authentic” content with a clear desire to build their personal brand on Facebook.
- Fan Subscriptions: This feature allows fans to pay a recurring monthly fee in exchange for special recognition in comments and access to exclusive content that creators can put out for their paying subscribers – very similar to the type of services that companies like Patreon currently provide.
- Facebook Stars: Perhaps one of the most important monetization tools rolling out to creators is a near carbon copy of YouTube’s Super Chat feature: fans can choose to pay a one-off fee to have their live stream chat message stand out from the sea of other messages posted by fans. This microtransaction-based feature will be available at different price points, with more visibility for those with fatter wallets.
Brand Collabs Manager
Facebook also unveiled their own self-service influencer marketing tool, pairing creators and brands in an effort to help facilitate brand deals. Creators establish profiles, complete with their location, a brief introduction, and a portfolio of recent videos, then Facebook adds in audience insights and information from previous brand deals. Brands can then search for creative portfolios to find new partners for their campaigns.
The big kicker? Facebook is planning to offer the service entirely for free, choosing to not take a cut of any of the deals.
Engaging with Fans
Facebook is also working on a whole host of new tools designed to help creators better engage with their fans.
- Facebook Creator Studio: A copycat of YouTube’s identically-named tool, the Facebook Creator Studio will serve as a one-stop-shop for managing your content on Facebook, communicating with fans, viewing earning information, and protecting your content via a dumbed-down version of Rights Manager.
- Watch Party: Creators can choose a piece of content to watch together with their fans, allowing fans to interact and chat in real time, as if the piece of content was playing live.
- Premieres: Similar to Watch Party, Premieres allow creators to debut a brand new video in a live experience, to get feedback and capture first impressions from fans.
- Top Fans: This tool allows creators to view and highlight the fans that invest in a creator the most. Top fans receive a special badge within their communities, and a leaderboard honors those that are most engaged. All eligible pages will receive this feature “later this summer.”
- Polls for Live: Exactly as it sounds, this feature allows creators to push out polls to live stream viewers, allowing them to capture instant feedback or play games with their audience.
Algorithm Changes & Facebook Watch
Finally, the company shared a bit of information about the type of content they’re looking for on the platform. Facebook is emphasizing videos that foster community, and de-emphasizing short, viral clips.
“We’re really focused on videos that people want to come back to,” Bree Nguyen, Head of Talent Partnerships said. This means that creators producing longer-form content with loyal fans will be featured more prominently in the news feed than non-personable pages regurgitating viral clips.
Additionally, creators who don’t qualify for a Facebook Shows page are now eligible to have their content shown in Facebook Watch.
“Creators videos may now show up in Watch, even if you don’t have a Show page. Everybody has the opportunity to be in Watch,” Nguyen said.
Snapchat’s Session: “Snapchat Platform Update”
Snapchat’s industry track session delivered fewer product announcements and more metrics – which is surprising, considering the platform’s declining growth. Moderated by Dawn Chmielewski, a tech reporter at Deadline, Snap executives were grilled on their controversial app redesign and “depressed engagement.” Among the metrics revealed:
- 191 million daily active users
- 60% of users overlay “creative tools” on their Snaps every day
- 70% of users in the United States are ages 13-34
- Users under 24 years old spend an average of 40 minutes a day in the app
Snap made it clear that their intent is to facilitate active communication between you and your closest friends, while helping you discover content and facilitate passive consumption from publishers and influencers.
In regards to monetization: “We’re just scratching the surface with monetization. We actually just rolled out the opportunity for creators to really produce vertical video for our Discover page, which then they’re able to have a revenue share opportunity through our Snap Ads,” said Lauren Gallo, Head of Talent Partnerships at Snap. The company didn’t have much else to say on the subject, and it’s not immediately clear when or if monetization will be available at scale.
YouTube’s Keynote Address
YouTube’s keynote speech, which is always the most highly-anticipated industry track session at VidCon, left much to be desired. For the first time since 2014, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki didn’t speak herself, but instead sent her Chief Product Officer, Neal Mohan.
The keynote began by revealing a number of new, updated metrics:
- 1.9 billion logged in users visit YouTube every month
- 90 countries have localized versions of YouTube available, in 80 languages
- YouTube Go, the “app for the next billion users,” is available in 140 countries
- The number of creators earning 5-figures on YouTube is up 35%
- The number of creators earning 6-figures on YouTube is up 40%
- YouTube Red content has been viewed over 250 million times.
In terms of product updates, Mohan had a few things to share:
- Super Chat: Over 65% of the channels that use Super Chat more than doubled their income during their live streams.
- Channel Memberships: Currently available under the name “Sponsorships,” this feature allows creators to put out a premium offering that fans can buy into for a monthly fee. Fans can unlock unique chat/comment badges, new emojis, and access to exclusive content. Eligible channels with at least 100,000 subscribers will be able to create Channel Membership offerings in the “coming weeks.”
- Merchandise: YouTube has partnered with Teespring to allow creators to sell merch directly from the YouTube app, in a new shelf appearing right below their videos. Eligible U.S.-based channels with at least 10,000 subscribers will soon be able to create merchandise offerings.
- Ticketing: Similar to the new merchandise feature, a select group of creators can now promote and sell tickets for tour dates and other live events directly in their videos.
- Premieres: Identical to the feature announced by Facebook in their industry track session, YouTube will allow creators to debut prerecorded videos as a live moment. This is currently only available to a select group of creators.
- YouTube Stories: Met with a universal sigh from the entire audience, YouTube announced that their short-form, ephemeral vertical content feature will be available to all eligible creators with at least 10,000 subscribers later this year.
It’s worth mentioning that Mohan did not address any of the platform’s controversies that have taken place over the past year, like issues with demonetization and inappropriate ads, opting instead to keep the session about positive metrics and product updates.
VidCon 2018 welcomed approximately 30,000 attendees, and saw more of the industry’s top players than any previous event to date. Stay tuned for more content and recaps in the coming days.