The growth of YouTube bloggers and vloggers is giving birth to a new generation of non-celebrity content creators whose reach is rivalling that of traditional stars, according to VS Media.
“YouTube and other social networks are the modern world’s movie lot and TV sound stage—they’re producing a new generation of bonafide stars, with the influence and selling power of celebrities,” commented VS Media CEO Ivy Wong (pictured right in video).
The company is not the first multichannel network (MCN) in Greater China. MCNs help creators in areas such as programming, sponsor funding, digital rights management, audience development, cross-marketing support, social media and search optimisation while making revenue for themselves, naturally.
Thoughtful Media and CommercializeTV are predecessors in the user-generated content (UGC) market, but VS Media wants to differentiate itself from the former two as the "largest locally driven content creation service in Greater China". Currently it still predominantly caters to the Hong Kong market, but started scant China operations in July.
In an exclusive video interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific, Wong pointed out that her company focuses on Chinese-language creators, as opposed to other MCNs driven by English content.
In fact, packaging, promoting and monetising someone else’s online video is becoming such good business that VS Media has built fake bedrooms, imitation kitchens but a real recording studio on its Kowloon Bay premises as "production facilities" to up the game for these grassroots celebrities.
This essentially upgrades the UGC monetisation model into a PGC (professionally-generated content) one. This is a requisite for picky Hong Kongers, who spend 1,309 minutes watching an average of 264 videos per person in a month, according to comScore’s June 2015 data based on more than 4 million unique YouTube viewers.
Advertisers who wish to work with these content creators are equally as picky, said Wong. They want engaging content that does not look like it is produced out of a teenager's bedroom, and they prefer not to associate their brands with rawer, lower-quality videos—despite the industry's call for authenticity from spokespeople.
In fact, for these reasons VS Media does not care for the 'MCN' label. "We prefer to call ourselves a next-generation video and social-media company," Wong said.
See some of the recent creator-brand collaborations below:
From Fiveson (伍妞有伍仔) for Reebok:
From Dai Wing for SK-II:
From Smiling Boris for Universal Pictures:
A strategic collaboration with Disney’s Maker Studios also means that VS Media’s creators can build their profiles internationally and benefit from the commercial sales services of both networks.
We had doubts about whether a US audience will be able to 'get' esoteric Cantonese- or Chinese-language jokes, but Johan Wong, VS Media regional VP of marketing and creator partnerships (pictured left in video), assured us that Western audiences have an inherent curiosity about such content.
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