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Industry Trends
April 2, 2024
min read
Alan Kronik

How can creators make the most of 2024?

In February, Neal Mohan, YouTube's CEO, posted an interesting letter discussing YouTube’s impact on the creator economy. He also included some of the main bets to consider for this coming year. You can check out his full letter here.

I can't deny that I found the article super insightful. First off, some of the numbers presented by Neal stood out to me. When we put them all together, we can see how massive and relevant the creator economy (with YouTube as the main platform, in my opinion) has become:

  • $70 billion paid to creators in the last 3 years.
  • More than 3 million channels in the YouTube Partner Program.
  • 70 billion daily views on Shorts.
  • 1 billion hours of YouTube content watched on TVs every day.

Also, If we want to consider podcasts as one of the hottest types of content, it is important to note that YouTube is the most popular platform for this type of content, according to studies such as Cumulus and Signal Hill. With more than 28% of weekly podcast consumers using YouTube, it surpasses the next two competitors - Spotify at 15% and Apple Podcasts at 12% - combined.

Neal’s letter also triggered some questions about the opportunities for mid-sized creators this year.

Of course, if you have more than 10 million monthly views or if you have a chocolate brand that is already sold in Walmart and is becoming the most important chocolate bar around, this is not relevant for you. 

But what are the opportunities for a mid-size creator?

I’m talking about a creator who reaches 1 to 2 million monthly views.

Someone who is asking themselves if they can “make it” as a full-time creator.

So I decided to ask around to see what brands are saying when it comes to small and mid-size creators. And there are interesting points to go over here. 

Opportunities for Small and Mid-size Creators:

There is an upward trend in preference for brands to work with smaller creators rather than larger ones.

My discussions with brands found three main reasons for this: Return on ad spend (ROAS), higher levels of engagement, and strong product fit.

They see bigger value in the content fit and in the demographics of the audience of those creators. Additionally, higher ticket creators are less affordable for small and medium-sized businesses, where the return on ad spend (ROAS) / return on investment (ROI) and performance become the most important variables.

Brands also notice that smaller creators tend to have higher levels of engagement (considered as (Comments + Likes) / views), providing higher value for money for brands aiming to reach a targeted niche. You can find out more about these insights in the latest report from Influencer Marketing Hub.

I asked my colleague and friend, Tom Alush, Account Executive at ThoughtLeaders, what he thought about this trend.  He has tons of conversations with brands each week, and he mentioned that more and more brands are designating specific budgets and objectives to sponsor medium-sized creators. They analyze the results as a really powerful marketing funnel, where attribution remains a huge variable. For that reason, "brands are looking for creators that have the real power of influence on their audience and community, and that is happening with creators who were able to build a community around them. That is more likely to happen with creators who have developed a niche and grew from there, rather than with a creator who is already a 'celebrity'."

I consulted Nelle Lightbourn, a Growth Marketer at Magic Spoon, with whom I've worked closely for the past two years on their campaigns. I asked her what she looks for when she chooses a creator. She confirmed what Tom had mentioned: the importance of the connection they had built with their audience: “When I look at creators to partner with, I try to gauge the bond that they've developed with their audience - creators who speak familiarly and authentically deliver the best ad reads, and generate the most interest in the product. I especially like working with smaller creators since they often have their own hyper-niche communities and have really unique ways of connecting with them, even in ads. Whether it's through their storytelling, visual effects, or inside jokes, the effort these creators put into their partnerships is tangible and is what's made our program so successful.”

I also checked with some of the top voices from the creator economy. It is interesting to see how they have a similar perspective regarding the challenges that creators are facing and how understanding their core values, and how their product fits with the business model, becomes crucial.  “A creator’s biggest challenge is to determine the optimal revenue mix across platforms, products, experiences, sponsors, and revshare. But previously the creator had to understand his lifecycle as a creator”, Jim Louderback from Inside the Creator Economy mentioned.  Also, he supported the idea that new research shows that micro and nano creators deliver better ROI than bigger creators. He also brought up the question of how the creator gets into the brand cycle.

Understanding Different Monetization Methods

Jim also talked about the importance of analyzing the time invested in having a balance between different revenue models for creators such as “courses, tip jars, paid communities, merch, tours”  because sometimes, the potential return could be zero. This also includes exploring other platforms, where “other bonus opportunities on sites beyond YouTube can be confusing as well.YouTube can be a great place to make money – while the other platforms might be better served as a place to raise awareness among fans, brands, and others – which you can then monetize directly”.

But this doesn’t mean that there is a perfect platform to monetize this year. As Avi Gandhi, from Creator Logic explained “I think it's not about the platform, it's about the creator's content, audience, and business model. Different platforms support different modalities (audio, video, image, written) and have different strengths in each. Creators should focus on the platforms that best support what they do best“. Regarding the audience and the monetization strategy, Avi brought a great example: “having teenage girls in the US will lead to a different monetization strategy than having middle-aged businessmen in India, because they'll have different preferences and spending habits, and they'll spend time on different platforms”. That’s why “some content and audiences are best monetized through media, getting the most eyeballs possible and running ads and sponsorships. Other combinations are better for niche, high-ticket product sales. Since for example, YouTube could be the best for ads while Linkedin might be the best for selling services”. For that reason, he concludes that the creator’s business model is crucial to understanding the perfect monetization strategy.

That's why, opportunities for creators in this increasingly competitive market continue to exist, but they also require a greater understanding of the current challenges.  Some aspects are closer to the creator themselves, such as their content strategy and how they can enhance their points of connection with their audience. This enables them to sustain their career effectively.

In general, brands tend to allocate their budgets to work with creators to reach audiences that they do not have direct access to. But in such a fragmented market, creators increasingly have to understand where they stand and how they compete, in order to build long-term relationships with their sponsors.

The debate is ongoing about the best way to do this. But I'm glad to see that there is a large consensus that the creator economy not only exists but is also growing year by year with more creators, companies, solutions, industry professionals, and enthusiasts like us who love what we do :)

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