February 19, 2015 Nick Cicero

The Creator’s Dilemma

It’s no secret that there are more places for content creators to house their work than ever before.

Now while YouTube has been the Goliath for video creators to get paid and build an audience, new changes are comings as more and more social networks look to take greater control over the people creating valuable content.

As reported by Digiday, YouTube has changed the policy around monetizing content through product placements in Youtube videos.

The change now prohibits creators from integrating their own annotated or clickable logos inside of their YouTube videos, as Digiday says “Video overlays of sponsor logos and product branding are no longer allowed — unless the sponsor pays Google to advertise on that channel.”

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While the representative that Digiday spoke to said it was a clarification of an existing change, it’s really another move to squeeze more money from the creators who are delivering value to their audience in new ways.

It seems that more and more social platforms are looking to take greater control over the monetization rights of video content of their creators. Niche was acquired last week by Twitter for upwards of $30 Million, yet no matter how you look at it they’re headed to a publicly traded company that has to answer to the revenue question to grow their share price.

And while I can understand their right to further monetize their users, I think it’s a poor decision to do it so soon.

The creator economy is far too young to have the gap be closed already. By putting the clamps on creators, they’re actually hurting the ecosystem for brands, creators and platforms.

It’s the creators who are the ones who make a platform valuable, because it’s the audience that’s most important.

This is like the new cable TV, where the creator can decide what is the TV station, not the platform. Look simply at the growth in Youtube CPM rates from Hank Green and you can see the patterns in viewership.

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There’s a reason that Michelle Phan is on the sides of subways in YouTube ads and on Dancing With The Stars, yet there are other YouTubers who live in Minnesota with hundreds of thousands of dedicated viewers daily who barely hear from YouTube’s team and don’t get nearly the same opportunities.

YouTube pushes creators that they think are the most poised to blow, which in turn drives attention to YouTube and keeps viewers coming back for more.

By making it harder for smaller influencers to have a taste, and grow both creatively and financially, they’re effectively disincentivizing them to continue to develop their brand on YouTube. They head to Twitter, Facebook or other upstarts like GoPro and Vessel, started by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, that already offers a new type of lucrative deal to creators. Twitter is even calling YouTubers of all shapes and sizes inquiring about creating video on Twitter.

The opportunity that opens up as more networks reign in their creator guidelines is a big one for both creators and competitive video platforms like Vessel, as BRaVe Ventures’ Jesse Redniss and Alan Wolk talked about earlier this year.

“If 10% of the fans of an act with 4 million followers sign up for the Vessel subscription service, that’s still 400,000 very dedicated users. In fact, the ability to monetize those superfan communities may prove to be the most valuable asset a YouTube creator has.”

If you work behind the scenes on these types of deals you come to realize that there’s a huge gap in the quality of content that’s being monetized. There are a small number of “YouTube Millionaires” who get a good chunk of the big brand work and become part of the “inner circle.” On Vine it’s the same thing, and so it will continue to be with each new network, leaving a much larger tier of creators to get creative in their monetization methods. 

Still, you can’t help but wonder if these platforms will feel similar pressures from YouTube’s moves. If that’s the case then the arms and talent race has begun.

No matter what happens, it’s definitely harder for all creators to decide where to place their content. The MCN is dying, and in order to adapt creators need to look to companies who will help build their brand across multiple platforms and evolve as a media entity. 

There’s so much money to be made, but it’s being split primarily between Google and Facebook and Twitter and a couple huge media companies. If creators realize this power and join together there’s far more room for innovation. We’re always interested in finding those ready to strike out on their own adventure.

The MCN is Dead. Long live the Multi-Platform Creators

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