Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The 'Adpocalypse': An Unpopular Opinion

Here I am. Another insignificant and nearly invisible thread in the worldwide web. And yet, I feel compelled to share my opinion with you on the poorly-dubbed 'Adpocalypse'. As did so many other channels before me with, like me, under 5000 subscribers. My saying as always been: don't get on the hate train if you can't afford a ticket. But here I am. Here I am, riding that same exact train with no valid travel pass or ticket. However, I feel like, even though I'm a passenger just like anyone else on their way to Salt City, I have planted my firm yet sloppy behind in a different coach.

The 'Adpocalypse', rather dramatically, symbolizes the recent trend of companies pulling their ads off Youtube, because of various illegitimate, or, dare I say, legitimate reasons. These reasons range from mild sexual content depicted in a video, to racism, to downright hate-mongering. The full suite of human kind's best traits. The foresight clearly bestowed upon God, or whoever it is that created our beloved species. Always gotta keep pushing the envelope. Right?

Well, NO MORE! Or atleast, that's what I think the CEO of Coca-Cola screamed in his weekly board meeting with other high-end figures that know very little of the real world's misdemeanors and quirky little personality traits. And it didn't end with Coca-Cola. More and more (big) companies pulled their ads, because humans, even the most inhuman of them all, are sheep, essentially. Youtube saw their revenue plummeting, and I beg of you, remember that statement. Because, as the revenue for Youtube went severely down, the same happened for its creators. For those that have absolutely no idea how Youtube works, here's a clear picture: advertisers, like said Coca-Cola, pay Youtube to let their ads run on videos. Youtube then shares the revenue from those ads between herself, and her creators. Simple.

Now, when that all happened, outrage is the logical next step. It was guided towards companies, mostly, and while Felix, or PewDiePie (we go on a first name basis), made a very fact-underlined video, other videos spawned as well. You know, the ones that can be considered as hostile. Sorta. Highlighting sir Kjellberg's video though, he makes extremely good points. Targeting ads on Youtube is better. Reach and penetration on Youtube is better. Interaction on Youtube is better. All better than more traditional advertising. So why did these companies decide to hold back on their ads on this perfect platform?

Hold on now, because this paragraph will be a little bit more, erm, controversial. Content offered on Youtube is of a wide range in variety. And there's a lot of it. A LOT. Back when Youtube chose to demonetize certain videos, which she's still doing, flags would go off on certain types of content, which were most likely automated or dependent on reporting from the community. This has received a lot of negative feedback, and justly so, because the system is incredibly flawed. But the issue does not lie with the flagging and demonitization. The issue lies with today's society.

Today's problem with society is the overly social response to anything that is slightly controversial or offensive. And while I believe downright offensive content should be flagged, controversial content was always worth watching. In the end, every decision for any company is made by human beings and specifically those with very little knowledge of what is actually going on in a company or in the real world. And thus, decisions were made to pull ads off Youtube. In an effort to get back some of those advertisers, they implemented a method for said advertisers to 'tick' which content should be avoided when placing their ads. And since everything can be regarded as even slightly offensive to someone, everything gets flagged. That's the adpocalypse. Albeit the short version of it. But here's the real kicker: Youtube should not be blamed.

As I depicted earlier, it is now considered the 'cool' thing to do to rant about Youtube. And while there are certain aspects that could be done considerably better, and undeniably so, Youtube is merely trying to do one thing. Survive. Yes, communication should be improved, by a large margin. Yes, the automated flagging system should be done better. And yes, Youtube should really take a class in expectation and decision-making management. But ultimately, Youtube is completely reliant on society. Society dictates the rules of which videos are considered controversial or offensive, and society is the trigger-happy hate-monger here. Youtube had to implement changes to the ad-system, simply because she would perish otherwise.

Imagine losing EVERY form of income, in a span of about a month. Imagine that. Now imagine you already have a company that isn't financially healthy. And imagine an audience as big and diverse as any big capital around the world, with millions of different opinions and thoughts on what is considered the line, and what is considered to cross said line. Basically, you're fucked. There's no way in hell you can do anything without being judged, but still you'll have to do something. Any change implemented pisses off the investors, society, advertisers or content creators. See the sour pickle in this scenario? Because make no mistake, it is fucking sour.

I'm not trying to play good cop while all of you have to play bad cop. I fully recognize that Youtube needs to be a little bit more careful with their ad distribution and the toll it puts on her content creators. Because the scenario sketched in the previous paragraph is valid for those content creators as well, line by line, word for word. But Youtube is merely responding to what society is dictating. Companies pull ads because of various reasons, and those reasons have been provided by society. Youtube then has no choice but to refurbish the current system, and they need to do it fast. There's no time for extensive testing in dark little rooms, reeking with the sweat of the IT-crew. No. It needs to go live, asap. Why? Because of you, the content creator.

There was an uproar when there were no ads at all. Now, the ads are slowly coming back, because Youtube has implemented the new system. But there's still an uproar. Because content creators are still not making the same amount of revenue. Because of that change. So revert the change! Then there's no filter, so companies decide to throw their expensive marketing-dollars somewhere else. Vicous is the circle described, yes?

There is a lot of confusion about flagging, and which videos are demonitized. Or, rather, which videos are still showing ads that should definitely not show ads. And to that I say: true. This is a legitimate concern. However, do you know how many videos or hours of content are uploaded on Youtube over the course of one day. It would baffle you, as it baffled me. There's no way in which Youtube can possibly screen every video for the complete content of that video. There's just no way. So what you're being left with is a flawed system, basically created by a flawed society/corporate environment.

Youtube needs money. Youtube needs content creators in order to get paid. And Youtube needs companies to run ads for. A big, more prominent part of Youtube's community is trying to bring the message across to its audience that Youtube just loves screwing over her content creators. But you honestly think that's their goal? That they want to push away what they so desperately need? As the Brits say it: Rubbish! And you know it is. But it's easy. It's easy to look at flaws. Today, it's easy to hand out a slap in the face, and hard to give praise. Youtube has done so much for so many content creators, literally bestowing more fame and money upon them than they'd ever think. But when the chips are down, none of that matters anymore. 'JUST FIX IT!', they scream. 'GOODBYE YOUTUBE!', they shout. But not once have I heard any in-depth thoughts about solutions. Not once have I heard acceptance that sometimes situations can be a little bad.

This is Youtube's way of trying, and trying, and trying, to come up with a platform and a system for revenue. A platform that serves millions, maybe even billions of people, and thousands of companies, and hundreds of thousands of content creators. Has it made questionable choices? Yes. Has it done a poor job of communicating said changes to its audience, whether the audience is creators or users? Most def. But the fact that they had to implement changes, is not due to them. Maybe, just maybe, we should look at and blame something else than Youtube. You know, for a healthy change. And if you have to blame Youtube, or rant about, try thinking in solutions instead of problems. As for the companies; pull your management-heads out of your royal management-ass, and get real. Stop letting minor groups of people influence your corporate image. Because we are with many, us normal folk. And we don't get offended easily anymore. Never forget. We are with many.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Vidme Venture


Every now and then there comes along a form of content that swoops nations and complete civilizations, and for the past few years that form of content has been video content. Alright, alright. Maybe the swooping of nations and civilizations was a tad too much, but still, video content is popular and is well on its way to become the only form of content offered to the demanding public. And who could blame said public? Need to know how to fix or even build an entire PC? I'd rather have a video. Want to know how to chroma-key your green screen? Definitely video. Or have you always been curious about that Lootcrate of January 2016? Gimme that good visual, yo. Yes, video content is hot. And it will become even hotter. Fun fact: I misspelled 'hotter' with 'hooter'. That's funny. But it would be even funnier if you'd be able to watch that. On video.

As far as video content goes, there has been one platform and one platform only considered reigning champion since it first became important; Youtube. Remember the previous mentioned questions about finding instructions? Over the course of specifically the last three years, your go-to place is Youtube. Don't deny. Don't lie. It doesn't look good on ya. Youtube spotted an incredibly fast increasing demand for video content, and capitalized on it like only American companies can do. And with the not-so-recent-but-still-relevant purchase by Google, the domination of Youtube in the video content universe is massive. And no matter how much praise one should give Youtube, there is one big flaw about monopoly. No, not that moment when you realize you'll land on a space with a hotel on it, bankrupting you like only American companies can do. No. You want to know that flaw? You want to know the risk of being the only one out there delivering such a highly demanded form of content?

There's no challenge. None, whatsoever. Sure, there's Vimeo. There was (sniff) Vine. Platforms with a solid amount of effort behind their creation. But as with the old snowball rolling down the hill; Youtube is the snowball, crushing and absorbing anything in its path. It's user-friendly, easy, meticulous and correct. You type in what you search for, and you get what you search for. GG. EZ. But with one challenger after another perishing by pure peer pressure, Youtube has dropped the ball as of late. Because, how does one improve if it doesn't have to improve? How does one motivate themselves if you don't need motivation.? To compare it to good old Call of Duty; if you sell enough copies every single year to fill up your gigantic empty bags with a disgusting amount of profit, why bother to improve? Or even better. Let's find ways to earn more money. Drop production efforts, hire some dudes to star in your games, and throw in some of that good early DLC the kids want so much but need their parents to buy it for them. If they don't, Call of Duty knows kids that play their games are ridiculously spoiled and will just throw a tantrum. I'm pretty proud of this analogy, but obviously it can be linked to capitalism as a subject, as a whole. But here comes the kicker; what if, IF, there is a platform that, considering its age, does everything better and learned from your mistakes? Because just like Battlefield filled the gaps that Call of Duty themselves created, Vidme stands a chance to become the first real competitor of Youtube. And God knows they need it. As an extra fun fact: Vidme is heavily influenced by Reddit, which might be an extra reason for everyone to turn on the big corporative atmosphere of Youtube.

Regrettably, this is where the analogy goes a little wrong. See, Battlefield was already a huge name in gaming. All it took was a few years of flaws by their counterpart to sway the audience their way. Vidme still has a long way to go to be as dangerous to Youtube as Battlefield is to Call of Duty. We'll depart 'Youtube Slant Station' for now, but ironically, Vidme's explosion in audience and visitors is directly linked to Youtube's implosion. Vidme is doing everything, and I mean everything, that which Youtube fails to do. Connect and communicate with its most important source of content, the creators? Vidme's your robot. Pushing content of all creators no matter the size? Yay for Vidme. Open about screw-ups and transparent about fixes? Vidme for President. On the surface, Vidme seems perfect. The underdog that you see working its robotic ass off. The company that isn't really a company. The human side to an automated market. It seems perfect. But it isn't.

I am a realistic person, analytically-minded, and sometimes that makes me come across as a pessimistic asshole. I am not blatant to the incredible efforts that Vidme puts out. Every. Single. Day. I only 'shit' on things I like, and Vidme; boy, I like you. But you need to work your shiny butt off for the next year or so. Continue to fill the open gaps Youtube has left you, but also look at what they do right. I will discuss more futuristic and organizational flaws later on, but for now, let's focus on the present. You have seen a literal explosion of new users, both content creators and normal viewers, so you are allowed to have issues. Considering how much of a toll that kind of increase has to have on your servers, you have stood tall for most of it. Views don't always update correctly, there's no (real) algorithm to speak of and the website is mostly filled with content creators that dared to make the shift. But what grieves me most, and I say grieves because I care, is the number one flaw; buffering.

One of the big pros of using Youtube is because it's so ridiculously fast. Including your own internet connection in the following equation, it's able to load up videos within less than seconds. Considering buffering, Vidme drops the ball harder than Trap Nation drops the beat. I don't know how you feel about buffering, but I would think it's in my top 10 most hated things on Planet Earth. While all other aforementioned flaws can be forgiven by the kind-hearted amongst us, buffering minute after minute is slightly, erm, unforgivable. Not being able to run the full video fast enough cripples the platform for any other visitor who is not a content creator. However, knowing Vidme, they know they need to drastically improve their performance, which most likely has something to do with server capacity. But it's these types of flaws that will limit exposure to the audience it needs most; non-content creators. Because without it, durability is far off. If Vidme hopes to have a permanent spot in the world of video content, it needs to move faster. Exponentially faster, like its users. And there are more things that need to happen for that same future to be as bright as we all want it to be.

I want to, almost desperately so, confirm to you that I am a fan of Vidme. I want this platform to be successful. It's the main reason why I may sound harsh when I say that it needs to think clearly about its desired market position and if it wants to trump (relevancy, amirite?) the big bad Youtube. We'll talk about some smaller issues later on, but for now, let's try to answer one question: what happens to Vidme when they become just as big, or even half as big as Youtube? Let it run through your head, and sit on it. Vidme, and its Vidizens (incredible name, by the way), are proud of the open lines of communication between the two. Vidme is transparent, clear and fun on all social media channels you can think of. However, putting things in perspective, Youtube has about 1 billion users, while Vidme has 1 million. That's 0,1%. Zero point one percent. It's not surprising to see Vidme gaining popularity because of their down-to-earth approach and treating every creator similarly. But one does have to question if Vidme would still be this way when it reaches the heights of Youtube. They cling on the promise of never changing, but everyone and everything changes. It's basically the foundation of the human race, the corner stone of society. It's evolution.

I would like nothing more than to see Vidme not change, and I cannot yet make an internal decision on if they will or not. My heart says 'yes', my head says 'no'. Youtube is a company, yes, a company, but most treat it like a place where you can dump your content on and gather some self-esteem. Vidme doesn't share this same vibe of capitalism, but that's mainly because it can't. I am currently, professionally, working on a project for my employer, which could be summarized by the term local online marketing. We are in the same boat as Vidme. In our market, we are being overshadowed by the big corps, the big bad firms. We maintain the same handle as Vidme does, weirdly so, by binding potential clients to our firm through local entrepreneurism and attention, abiding by our slogan to be always nearby. We took a position of not being the big firm that everybody knows by name or even logo. Nay. We took the position of being the little guy around the corner for every middle-to-small sized company. You can hop in for some coffee, and talk to nearly everyone here. That's what makes us different. And you know what makes us potentially different to Vidme? We don't want to become the biggest. Because if we ever did, we would lose our norms and values. Not because we want to, but because we need to.

I guess that's where I stand on Vidme. I love it. It's smooth, small, easy and fun. It provides a fresh breathe of air through the corporative maze of Youtube. If anything, it creates the very best competition that Youtube could ever have. But it must never, never, become as big. As much as I'd love to say that Vidme can handle it, I'm afraid they can't. You reckon Vidme would still go towards the very smallest of creators to boost their content if they gained 1000% in users? And even if they did make up some tab to showcase the newest uploads, your uploads would get lost in the 1000% more content that would be uploaded. It's not a scam, it's not their fault, and it's pretty undoubtedly going to happen. You still think they will be so into the community when they equal Youtube's nearly 67 million followers on Twitter? I'm pretty sure they already can't keep up. You think it's still as easy to get a video on the team-picks page? And oy oh boy, the big one, how will it be when it earns money? With roughly a dozen of team picks, you think they won't go for the popular creators and/or videos? Many other questions like this can be asked, but why should we? I'll tell you why we shouldn't.

Because Vidme is good. Vidme stands for community, love for video content and it's open lines of communication. And Vidme needs to grow, definitely. Vidme needs to improve. Vidme needs to make a firm positioning strategy. But the one thing Vidme shouldn't do or doesn't need, is to become another Youtube. Vidme is a welcome change to this landscape, and it deserves respect. But it also deserves honesty, instead of a community claiming it's the best platform ever and that "it will overtake Youtube and be so much better at it".

Making fun of Youtube is one of our favorite things to do at this moment. Spit on the Rewind 2016, because you don't know any of the creators, except for the ones you watch (funny thing right?). Curse them for any kind of change you deem bad, but never say a thing when they do something right. Get angry at them for wanting to make money because they have to pay for those servers that allow you to watch those videos within mere milliseconds. Yeah, Youtube-stomping will be a sport in the 2022 Olympics. And you know where Vidme will be? Vidme will be hosting the li........buffering........ttle league. And when and if it's able to smash through to the big league, it'll be ready. But it wouldn't be Vidme anymore.