Just last week (July 23-25) 20 000 delegates converged on the Anaheim Convention Centre in Los Angeles for the sixth annual VidCon extravaganza. Tech conferences are a big deal, with CES in Vegas drawing 150 000 delegates and Berlin’s IFA over 240 000 last year. This year SXSW Interactive drew 84 000 attendees, so by comparison, 20 000 is quite small. However each of those giants covers a broad base of tech subjects, whereas VidCon is focused exclusively on online video content. Justin McCarthy reports.
The reason this event has grown from a tiny base of 1 400 delegates in 2010 is a clear demonstration of the growth in importance of the medium. VidCon has traditionally focused primarily on YouTube content creators, although there is a rapidly rising presence from Vimeo, Vine, Tumblr, Meerkat and of course, Facebook.
Repurposing made-for-TV content for online is merely a matter of redistributing from one channel to another. Creating purpose-specific content is another matter entirely, and one that very few South African brands are taking seriously. A new study by Pixability into the world’s top 100 brands by online spend shows that they collectively own 2 434 YouTube channels featuring 611 000 videos that attract 73 million subscribers. Those are big numbers, and this is branded content, not HBO shows. Now consider what viewership those channels are getting once amplified across multiple social channels and an interesting picture comes into view.
Forty billion views is the answer: that’s what these 2 434 channels have accumulated. These aren’t 30-second views either, 10% uploaded in the last year exceed 10 minutes in length. The pace of growth is remarkable too, 2014 was 55% up on 2013. This represents a real opportunity for high level, opt-in engagement. Content is, was, and always will be king. Just ask two of the largest media owners in the world, Facebook and YouTube, neither of which produces a single item of content. These are archetypal distribution channels that allow end users the ideal in content options: choice and control.
This is the model that Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, Vudu, HBO Go and even Amazon Prime are trying to emulate – some are pure distribution platforms, others content makers trying to elbow some control over direct distribution of their own content. It’s also the iTunes model – Apple has never written and produced a song but it was the single biggest disruptor of the music industry in history and initially locked in its customers by necessitating a hardware purchase.
So what’s in it for South African brands and the marketers responsible for them? TV isn’t going anywhere, nor is the 30 second TV spot. Mass media will be alive and well for a very long time yet, but not every brand can afford it and those that can should kill for the opportunity to pull smaller, better quality segments of their market into high engagement channels. That’s precisely what’s behind the huge growth of social, but the content is largely rubbish.
In previous decades a major barrier to entry in audio-visual content was production cost. Not any more. Sure, any Mac monkey with an iPhone can trot out some badly made stuff for you, but only a small handful of companies can create an idea, craft it and produce it for a tenth or less than the traditional TVC. A few advertising agencies have tried to operate in this space, all barring one have failed.
But that’s not to say agencies should rush to open their own production facilities. The equipment, space, skills and proper understanding of the economics of the business will not deliver a return unless the agency has several longstanding large clients with high volume requirements. Generally speaking, agencies are still the best place to derive relevant content driven creative ideas. It would be in their interests to help marketers to reach high interest, high engagement market segments with quality content available via the brand’s social channels. Provided of course that they’ve done a decent job in building quality channels. If not, create great content and the eyeballs will follow.
Justin McCarthy is an advertising and media veteran and an independent marketing consultant.
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to email@example.com.