PMG Digital Made for Humans

Takeaways from VidCon 2019: YouTube, Influencers, and More!

6 MINUTE READ | August 15, 2019

Takeaways from VidCon 2019: YouTube, Influencers, and More!

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Ting Zheng

Ting Zheng has written this article. More details coming soon.


This year’s VidCon marked the 10th anniversary of the annual summit for all things video for community members, creators, and industry professionals. Originally, VidCon started with Hank and John Green, prominent YouTubers and more widely known as the Vlogbrothers, but in 2018 it was acquired by Viacom and YouTube is still the star of the show.

YouTube hosted several sessions to help educate and inspire brand marketing with a variety of speakers ranging from product executives to YouTube creators. Here’s a look at those top highlights:

  1. Hyper-specific YouTube video content is gaining more mass appeal. It’s becoming less about one-offs and viral hits, and more about a large network of creators who build meaningful audiences based on real-time pop culture trends. For instance, sustainable fashion and “adulting” content like journeys to living debt-free are on the rise, and in 2019, it seems like going the more niche, hyper-specific interest route will actually be mainstream.

  2. YouTube’s ability to reach the 18-29 demographic complements TV’s ability to reach 30+. Google conducted a test with its Pixel 3 campaign to test whether or not YouTube can scale as many TRPs in a week as TV and whether or not the impact will be same as TV on key brand and sales metrics. By pulsing out media in phases, Google determined they were able to scale with audiences younger than TV averages. However, there was no discernible impact on sales between the two mediums. 

  3. Measuring brand KPIs in real-time is possible with Brand Lift 2.0. This new YouTube measurement product was recently more widely released and opens up live insights on campaign effectiveness. Instead of receiving these results post-campaign, you can now simply measure ad recall, consideration, and favorability while the campaign is active and make optimizations in real-time by increasing your % lift across specific audiences. 

  4. YouTube offers more monetization capabilities for creators. The traditional way creators made a profit was to allow brands to run ads as pre-roll before their content began, but not anymore! YouTube introduced Super Stickers which now allows fans to purchase animated stickers during live streams and content premieres to show their favorite creators just how much they enjoy their content. Also, fans can now purchase different membership levels to their favorite creators each with varying perks. 

Why does all this matter: YouTube is evolving as their audiences’ consumption habits change and choose to watch whatever they want, whenever they want and it’s important to take note. Insights are all pointing to how this huge video platform is a prominent part of the internet ecosystem where creators and content are the bread and butter. By providing brands new ways to measure ad performance and giving creators the flexibility to monetize, YouTube is catering towards several revenue streams at once to remain on the forefront. 

Creators used Vidcon as an opportunity to provide brands input about best practices in influencer marketing from their POV. Famebit and Studio 71 organized creator huddles to help bridge the gap between “us” (advertisers) and “them” (creators). Famebit reminded marketers that influencers are the “CEO, CMO, Producer and Talent of their channel — and they organize and run it as a business.” One-on-one meetings with influencers such as the Weiss Family, Erin Robinson, and Gilbert Sosa, reinforced this insight. The discussions condense well into three key takeaways:

  1. Brands cannot pay to take a creator’s creative control.  While the creative process should be collaborative, a brand should not assume the influencer will adapt his or her style to meet the brand’s one-sided vision for content. The brand should spend time choosing influencers whose styles naturally and authentically align with the aesthetic and style the brand seeks to produce through the campaign. 

In keeping with this principle, PMG aligns brands with the right creators before contracting. The influencers also want to leverage their intimate knowledge of their own audiences to drive the creative. With that in mind, brands and agencies can strike a balance between brand creative and influencer creative. A best practice we have found successful is treating high-impact influencers as creative directors tasked with developing the best possible assets for the brand. We do our best to incorporate influencers’ recommendations with the brand’s needs for specific deliverables by having a thorough briefing process and providing creators with a clear vision for the content deliverables. Brands and agencies can replicate this model to better optimize their creative processes.

  1. Terms such as usage and exclusivity should not be handled as an added value, but rather as items that warrant additional compensation. Influencers expressed their frustrations with brands that expect —rather than negotiate— exclusivity periods, rights to whitelist content, and usage of the creative assets on the brand’s owned and operated channels. To avoid these disappointments and facilitate positive working relationships between brands and influencers, PMG, for instance, takes the hassle out of contract negotiations by managing even the smallest details from deliverables to usage and exclusivity.

  2. Sharing post-campaign results can benefit both the brand and the creator. Brands provide little feedback in terms of performance for campaigns, leaving creators in the dark and wondering whether they met the brand’s expectations. Sharing post-campaign feedback with the creator helps them learn what type of content works well for future campaigns, affords them the opportunity to offer additional posts or remediation for underperformance, and encourages a healthy brand-influencer relationship. Like PMG, influencers champion humanizing digital marketing. Brands and agencies should strive to maintain excellent relationships with influencers, as developing a positive rapport with brand ambassadors increases efficiency and makes for a more enjoyable experience for all parties involved.

YouTube wasn’t the only star of the conference. LinkedIn influencers brought the platform to life for rising talent and brands alike. Goldie Chan, the number one Top Voice on the globe with 600 published LinkedIn videos and 5M+ content views, presented on her best tips for building a sustainable, prominent LinkedIn presence. Chan argued that LinkedIn could accomplish four key achievements: brand awareness, amplification of a product launch, thought leadership, and granular targeting through a series. She also suggested three tips for building audiences on LinkedIn, including carefully targeting the desired audience, being consistent with the content calendar, and thoughtfully considering captions.

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Overall, VidCon 2019 was a great learning experience and we can’t wait until 2020!

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