1-in-3 of us pays to see creator content
Issue #126 | Your reading time this week is 6 mins. 15 secs.
Welcome back to the Creator Briefing.
Here’s just some of what I’ve been thinking about this week:
How creator collectivism is likely to be the lasting legacy of Hollywood’s actor strike
Why creator funds offer a perverse payment structure
Fascinating research from Mintel shows nearly one-in-three of us has paid for creator content in the last three months
The growing feeling that influencer marketing is treated more harshly than other advertising channels
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UK advertisers to spend £9.5 billion on Christmas ads
UK advertisers will spend £9.5 billion in the run-up to Christmas. This is according to new data released by the Advertising Association (AA) and WARC.
This is a 4.8% climb on last year’s £9bn and underscores how important advertising is to the UK economy during the festive period.
Creator collectivism will be actors’ strike legacy
The Hollywood actors’ strike is over. There are however likely to be long-running consequences for creators. Influencers are starting to band together in creator collectivism to professionalise and advance their rights.
Creators.org launched last month (see Creator Briefing #122) as the newest in a growing cadre of bodies dedicated to representing the interests of content creators. Its mission: “to advance the rights of creators around the world and build a better digital ecosystem”. This includes ensuring “equitable monetization for all creators.”
In August Creators Guild of America (CGA) set up shop with a similar aim: to “promote and protect the emerging profession of digital content creation”. Future ambitions include accreditation, workshops, networking opportunities, and a platform for advocacy.
The not-for-profit hopes to build a collective voice in seeking fair pay, content ownership, royalties, and award recognition (see Creator Briefing #116).
Qianna Smith Bruneteau set up the American Influencer Council in June 2020 in order to promote best practices, standardisation, good ethical conduct and transparency.
In the UK, marketer turned content creator, Nicole Ocran formed The Creator Union also in June 2020 to establish fair pay, secure contracts and raise industry standards in the UK.
Hank Green was the first person to try to professionalise and protect content creators. In 2016 the YouTuber and VidCon co-creator launched the Internet Creators Guild (ICG). Three years later he was forced to shutter it due to lack of perceptible progress and only a small take-up in membership.
Maybe ICG was ahead of its time. Change at an industry level starts with individual change. But perhaps issues of copyright protection, fair pay, and healthcare provision seemed too distant at the time. Throw AI into the mix and these issues become 2024 issues.
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The perversity of Creator Funds
Creator funds are perverse. They penalise success on platforms. Designed to keep creators uploading content the payment structure means: the higher the volume the lower the payout.
Creator funds offer a finite pot of cash to distribute from. So, the more content produced, the smaller proportionately the payouts become.
That’s if the big-ticket sums were ever paid out. Speaking at SXSW this year Sean Kim, former head of product for TikTok’s U.S. operations said: “If you see a $2 billion creator fund, who’s actually checking if we paid $2 billion? Nobody. Nobody could check”.
YouTube’s highest earner, MrBeast, claims he made just $15k from TikTok's creator fund between April 2021 and January 2022 despite generating a billion views.
DIG DEEPER: Performance Marketing World’s Lucy Shelley asked me to share my thoughts on TikTok shuttering its Creator Fund.
Mirror not replacing journos with influencers
This week The Telegraph reported that Mirror and Express newspaper publisher, Reach, is to replace some journalists with influencers.
Not so, responded Reach chief digital publisher David Higgerson in an X thread: “It is completely wrong to suggest we are replacing journalists with social media influencers or creators.”
It’s easy to get confused, afterall, it was Reach CEO Jim Mullen who briefed The Telegraph in the first place.
Why so sniffy about influencers, anyway?
This year’s Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism says younger generations “nowadays often pay more attention to influencers or celebrities than they do to journalists, even when it comes to news” (p11).
The report concluded that half of us turns to influencers for mainstream news stories ahead of journalists across TikTok (55% vs 33%), Snapchat (55% vs 36%), and Instagram (52% vs 42%).
Aussie’s advertising kid code kicks in
Australia’s new Children’s Advertising Code (the New Code) comes into effect on 1 December 2023.
The new code extends to include all advertising directed at children rather than just covering advertising of children’s products.
Vapes and highly caffeinated energy drinks (think KSI/Logan Paul’s Prime Energy) will not be allowed to be advertised to children from 1st Dec.
Kidfluencers are mentioned for the first time. Advertisers are warned to be careful when it comes to using ‘kidfluencers’ to promote products or services to children. “Children are a vulnerable audience and don’t have the same ability as adults to discern when something is an ad. Advertisers need to ensure that it is immediately clear to a child when something is advertising” according to the regulator.
Why we’re willing to pay for creator content
I’ve long reasoned that social media users don’t have a problem with seeing influencer-created brand collabs in their feeds, with three provisos:
The content provides the viewer with value.
The ratio of brand collab to organic content is reasonable - we don’t want to see ad after ad after ad.
The ad isn’t hidden. We realise that our favourite creators have to earn a living. We don’t mind seeing creator ads. But we hate feeling duped. We don’t want to feel hoodwinked by a creator failing to declare an ad as an ad.
It turns out we’ll go out of our way to to support creators, too. 58% of YouTube users want to support the creators they relate to by watching ads alongside their content. We covered this in Creator Briefing #123 along with other findings from recent YouTube research titled ‘Why We Watch.'
But, according to Mintel research, a third of us is happy to pay with our ‘hard-earned’, not merely with our attention.
“We did research about the impact of a cost-of-living crisis on willingness to spend. And we found that spending on social media content and creative content was one of the few areas we've actually seen a growth in people being willing to pay. Of people who follow social media personalities, 29 per cent have actually paid, whether by subscriptions or tipping feature, in the last three months. It's about not just wanting that early content or wanting that exclusive content. It's also wanting to support that person” — Rebecca McGrath, Associate Director for Media and Technology at Mintel speaking with the Financial Times.
Influencer marketing should be treated the same as other channels by regulators
There’s a growing sense from influencer marketers in the UK and in Europe that influencer marketing is treated more harshly by regulators than other advertising channels.
“The problem today is that there is different treatment for a person considered to be an influencer, or YouTuber, and someone who is a public celebrity or film star,” Fernandez was quoted in The Guardian as saying. “For example, why, when a film star on the red carpet is wearing a Chanel product that was gifted to them, do they not have to specify that it is paid advertising, when an influencer would be asked to?”
Fernadez’s assertions chime with academic study. Writing in the Online Advertising Regulation: Policy Briefing Jonathan Hardy, Professor of Communications and Media at UAL and project lead at the Branded Content Governance Project (run as part of the Branded Content Research Hub), argued that regulations have not kept pace with developments in digital media and that the different treatment of communications across media leads to gaps and anomalies.
DECLARATION: I am an advisory board member of the Branded Content Research Hub and a project partner, to the Branded Content Governance Project. I was also interviewed for the report.
Tomorrow (16 Nov.) Ogilvy will host a webinar covering their forecasts of the main themes to look out for within influencer marketing in 2024. Register here.
Here’s what caught my eye this week:
YouTube brings “For You” section to creators’ channels. Starting next week (20th November) The section will sit on creators’ channel Home tab that recommends a mix of content from your channel to viewers based on their watch history. YouTubers can choose what types of content to show and select to show only content recently posted within the last 12 months.
BNPL offering, Klarna, is taking its Creator Shops platform to the US. The feature enables influencers to monetise their content through affiliate links and gives them the ability to set up their own ‘shop’ pages on Klarna.com.
AI is coming to YouTube. The video-sharing platform is implementing AI-powered features to enhance the viewing experience. Features include Comment Topics Summary - making it easier for users to read and understand the comments by using AI to organise large comment sections of long-form videos into easily digestible themes.