Is YouTube now Big Media — being usurped by platforms more on the button for today’s youth? Seems that way at VidCon, where the conversation and the panels leaned heavily toward the shorter-than-YouTube content formats of TikTok. The Bytedance-owned company has had a meteoric rise and is poised to triple ad revenue to $11.6 billion this year, surpassing Twitter and Snapchat combined.
READ MORE: TikTok Poised to Triple Ad Revenue to $11.6 Billion This Year – Surpassing Twitter and Snap Combined (The Wrap)
Executives at VidCon explained how old and new media companies should think about bridging the gap between various audiences and platforms: giving more power and even control over IP to top creators.
In a piece for The Wrap, Harper Lambert and Brian Welk round up the five biggest TikTok related trends.
To start, TikTok is the undisputed short-form star to such an extent that other video driven social media platforms are concentrating much of their energies on copycat services: YouTube Shorts, for instance, and Instagram Reels.
“Clearly, short-form content is here to stay, and both new and old platforms — as well as brands and other entertainment sectors — are all vying for a piece of the pie,” Lambert and Welk say.
Given the ubiquitous nature of news — and the fact that nearly half of American adults get theirs via social media — an ad-based model may be more effective than a subscription-based one.
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“The nature of what we make is actually meant to be free,” Chris Berend, EVP of Digital for the NBCU News Group, said at VidCon. “As opposed to other news streaming services, which have frankly been more lifestyle adventures.”
If news networks are to make the leap to streaming and remain competitive, they’re going to have to get creative, assert Lambert and Welk.
MSNBC president Rashida Jones said, “You can throw some spaghetti at the wall and see if it sticks, but bring in new voices, new perspectives, people who look more like America and that’s really what we’re focusing on.”
Platforms need to adopt a “creators first” mentality to compete, and that means spending money on them. For example, Snapchat announced that it will put $3 million into a program geared toward amplifying Black creators, similar to initiatives at YouTube and TikTok (although TikTok committed to investing $200 million in content creators back in 2020).
When it comes to creator funds, many platforms have opted for capped amounts rather than revenue-sharing. In the case of Meta, Instagram and Facebook won’t start taking a cut of their creators’ profits until 2024. As these funds continue to generate major business for TikTok and its rivals, creators are finding new ways to make the most of them. Since traditional advertising can be trickier with short-form video content, brands are exploring ways to forge innovative, long-term partnerships with creators.
Hollywood is reconsidering its highly protective approach to IP, according to Lambert and Welk. Where studios once tried to keep copyrighted material off of digital platforms, many are now starting to open the gates.
“Though there are some exceptions, allowing creators to repurpose IP for memes and video shorts drives engagement and awareness [to] a whole different level,” said Michael Scogin, VP of Strategic Partnerships at NBCUniversal. “The goal is to make IP-sharing easier by resurfacing old clips and making editing tools more accessible.”
Scogin added that platforms like TikTok represent an “opportunity” to reach new and multigenerational audiences.
TikTok’s recent partnerships with “old media” include with Paramount for Top Gun: Maverick, the Academy for the Oscars, and with NBCUniversal for the Beijing Olympics.
Technology and societal trends are changing the internet. Concerns over data privacy, misinformation and content moderation are happening in tandem with excitement about Web3 and blockchain possibilities. Learn more about the tech and trends driving humanity’s digital future with these hand-curated articles from the NAB Amplify archives:
- The TikTok-ing of Western Civilization
- Web3 and the Battle for the Soul of the Internet
- Our Collective (and Codependent) Relationship with Data
- Want to Fix Social Media? Stop Listening to the Bots and Algos
- Social Media Is a Disaster for Democracy, But Who’s Going to Change It?
The final trend we’ve heard a lot of before. Successful engagement with the younger demos of short form video sites requires an authenticity of interaction. As Hello Sunshine COO Liz Jenkins put it: “People don’t want to be sold to all the time.”
“Giving influencers a script to read and pumping various platforms with as much advertising content as possible doesn’t cut it in the digital entertainment space,” say Lambert and Welk. “What does work is organic, creator-driven content that truly connects with audiences.”
Sarabeth Oppliger, director of influencer marketing at Warner Bros., said that giving influencers creative control has a better chance of resonating with their followers.
“Expect to see much more of this anti-teleprompter, pro-creator approach in digital campaigns,” Lambert and Welk predict.
Or, as one speaker put it, “Don’t make ads, make TikToks.”