I posted some predictions for video in 2016 over on LinkedIn this morning. These are some excerpts I thought would be relevant for the gen.video community.
Influencers Start to Pick Favorites
If you add up the “networks” managed by all of the MCNs, influencer marketplaces, sampling companies (who are all talking about and courting influencers) you might think that every man, woman and child in America has a YouTube channel with 10,000 followers. That’s of course not true. Real influencers are much rarer (YOU are special!) than the world is being led to believe and the reality is that there is tremendous – at times laughable – overlap between the networks.
Influencers have smartly rebelled over the past couple of years against painful revenue shares in relationships where they get little in return. That has led to the proliferation of alternative, non-exclusive networks where there are low barriers to entry and so the smart strategy is for an influencer to join any that are relevant to their interests. Still, we know that many or most influencers are putting sweat and genius in at a rate that isn’t financially or maybe even physically sustainable. The “shine” of being part of a hot network with 100,000 other influencers is fading as that participation can feel more like an expensive lottery ticket than a career investment. We think this is the year where “The Influencers Will Strike Back” and look for networks that are adding the most value in terms of fair value exchanges, collaboration with leading brands and value-added technology. Hopefully it is clear that we are working really hard on this equation and if not, definitely reach out to our community team and put them to the test to explain it.
Another Tough Year for Independent Producers
If you think it is tough being a video influencer, how about being an independent producer? They are doing practically the same thing you are doing but without followers. There are certainly lessons available in the trendline of this sector.
The independent production houses that have been an integral part of the industry landscape forever have been getting squeezed, and it doesn’t appear that the pressure is going to let up. For a while it looked like perhaps freelance marketplaces like Poptent would organize demand and ensure that even as user generated video and other sources of video proliferated, the rising demand for digital video might allow the independents to flourish. Instead, Poptent has gone under, influencers are now creating scripted or unscripted content at unbelievable quality levels and both agencies – and sometimes even clients themselves – are doing more work in-house. Rising demand has meant steadier demand which makes it easier to justify investment in fixed costs like studios.
Look for an explosion of video on retailers
Speaking of Amazon, not only did they pour a ton of energy into both their Prime and Video Shorts business in 2015 but they’ve been prying open more and more real estate on product pages. Why does Amazon change product page templates? Because something works and clearly video works. Also late in 2015, Walmart upgraded the presence of video on their product pages and Sears continues to make the presentation of video the highlight of their product pages and have been experimenting with a variety of innovations, including putting influencer videos directly into prominent positions on product pages (disclosure: Sears is a video infrastructure client of ours and so we’re biased). There are still some things holding video back on retail: a) heterogeneous technical requirements. b) lack of broad analytical sharing back with brands, c) the slightly different formats for acceptable & winning content (similar to the Snapchat vertical video requirements). But these issues are getting resolved and the pull for content is going to increase substantially, certainly creating more opportunities for influencers who learn to adapt to the needs of these disparate platforms.