Unlike most of the senior people in the industry, I didn’t attend Cannes. Aside from client meetings and work, last week I spent 2 days in Anaheim for Vidcon. What is Vidcon? Vidcon is an online video conference, now in its 7th year and dedicated to people who create and love online video – and by online video I mean primarily YouTube, Vine, and Snapchat.
Vidcon is a cross between a fan event like Comic Con and and the early days of CES. On the fan side, this is where you can meet influencers like Glozell (4MM YouTube Subscribers) and the Game Theorists (6MM subscribers). Where MCN’s like AwesomenessTV have a stage that is surrounded by screaming fans, and where 25,000 people (and growing each year) are paying to attend across a mix of fans, creators, and industry (MCNs, video technology providers) to be part of the event. At time of writing there are over 450,000 videos on YouTube for Vidcon 2016.
What stands our from an agency perspective is a few things:
Firstly, in the excitement and rush to be at Cannes, Vidcon is missed by the industry because the dates (consistently) collide. So as an industry, we’re not exposing ourselves and our clients to the future of media and entertainment. Everyone in creative or media really should be have people scouting and learning at Vidcon.
Secondly, the absence of UM clients from a marketing position – Mars Chocolate and KIA were the only brands that had a media activation presence. Interestingly only because the CMOs/SVPs/VPs of those brands attended their 1st Vidcon a few years back at the request of their children (influencer fans) and these brands realized how the world has changed. I’ll be honest, the absence of UM clients was uncomfortable.
Thirdly, while I am immensely proud of the great work we have done with OLV and influencers for our clients (Chrysler, US Army, BMW, Mini) there is definitely so much more we could learn and do. Thanks to our fantastic Google Agency Lead (Jackie Rosen) I got to spend some time 1:1 with content creators and there wasn’t a single one who wasn’t interested in having a frank, open conversation about how to better work with agencies (including client education to move the industry forward). No, they weren’t just interested in getting ad dollars.
Finally, the fans – it’s easy to talk about OLV and the importance of being where the eyeballs are. But seeing first hand the way YouTube (and other) creators are both celebrities (mobbed by fans, security concerns by event organizers, etc) but also genuinely spend time connecting and engaging with fans demonstrates how we need to be educating our clients in how to change the way they market and connect their own brands with customers.
I’m not saying everyone across the agency should attend but it is definitely an event where our clients and UM should have more of a presence and we should be leading this for the industry. In my opinion, this event is more important and valuable than CES and dare I say Cannes (yes, I said it). The CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki, who AdWeek has called the most important person in advertising and Time Inc as her in the Top 100 influential people, delivered a keynote at Vidcon to a packed room at an event that is sold out – that alone is something that indicates Vidcon should be on your radar and client agenda.
So what am I going to do to help? Over the next several weeks I’m going to work with Google to craft out an agenda/program on how UM can play more of a role in future Vidcons both for our clients and as an agency. This may be officially or as a side-event, that’s yet to be worked through. If you have thoughts yourself, I’m happy to hear them and welcome your involvement – so please reach out to me (just reply to this email). All I ask of you is to learn more about Vidcon and start thinking in the back of your mind now, on how you would like to use an event like this to benefit our clients.
In 2017, Vidcon is going global, with events in Europe and Austraila (as well as the regular Anaheim event). Please keep that in mind for clients where we have a global remit, as we have an opportunity to be ahead of the curve as the event expands. From my side, I’m looking forward to 2017, where our clients and UM are partnering around Vidcon enabling us to do more great work.