Ahhh, 2018 – yet another year of surprises, some pleasant and some not so pleasant. We got everything from the California Wildfires to the House turning blue to the disappearance of our brick and mortar friends (Toys R Us, OSH, Brookstone and Sears to name a few).
And let’s not forget Facebook privacy, Fortnite, Black Panther, the crypto crash, the Royal Wedding, cashier-less retail stores, Stormy Daniels, Kashoggi, the Russian investigation, Melania Trump’s jacket, Donald chillin’ with Kanye and Kim Jong Un, the Kavanaugh Hearings, the Thousand Oaks Mass shooting, the Parkland kids, the March of our Lives, the end of “thoughts and prayers”, immigrant children being separated from their parents at the border, the Thailand cave rescue, the Karate Kid comeback and Roseanne getting fired.
Then there was Cosby in jail, Bourdain and Spade, McCain and Bush, A Star is Born, Crazy Rich Asians, Baby, It’s Cold Outside, Pete & Ariana, chatbots, the sex recession, peak TV and last but not least, Colin Kaepernick’s controversial Nike slogan, “Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.” (Those are actually pretty fitting words given my own 2018.)
But amongst all the chaos are our relationships. Whether you’re a client, an influencer, a vendor or a LinkedIn colleague, we value your support, and we thank you all for staying connected with us in 2018. We put together our own perspective on the year in the paragraphs below, and we hope you enjoy the read. In the meantime, we wish you the happiest of holidays and a prosperous new year.
Evan Aaronson and the Boomopolis Team
We invite you to check out our 2018 Influencer Marketing Highlight Reel on YouTube. For us, what made the year unique is that, while we had fewer clients, the campaigns from those clients were actually much larger. We also had the opportunity to focus on micro-influencers. Within a 3 month period, we booked over 200 of them to post over 7000 short videos on an app.
Each influencer had to keep within a specific category such as singing, comedy, fitness, food, makeup, pets, and travel. It ended up being almost 30 hours of content, and we were glad to help make such a big contribution to the company. We also did a fun promotion with Angry Birds where one of our influencers got to do a funny voiceover with the brand’s existing animated content, another example of how influencers are being used in new and innovative ways. Lastly, we went to our first CES this year. Cool stuff.
A big standout for me this year is just how many work colleagues from years ago are now superstars. They’ve made their marks in almost all forms of media including books, radio, TV, film and more. The surreal part of all this is that I gave some of them their first brand deals when they were in high school. One of them had the #5 best-selling book of 2018 –above Bill Clinton and just one notch below Bob Woodward. Another hosted SNL and appeared in 2 of the top grossing movies of the year. Yet another had her own TV show and was a guest on Late Night with Stephen Colbert. Others had songs on the Billboard charts, graced the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine, had #1 podcasts, made tons of money on a globally watched pay per view boxing match and got engaged to Tommy Lee from Motley Crue. The list goes on. Do I have the magic touch, or has the underground world of social influencers bubbled to the surface to reach my mother?
This all culminated in me walking through Target to buy some gifts for my kids only to see a board game called “Social Star” where “players must climb the social ladder and gather likes in order to gain fame.” Hmm. Not sure how comfortable I am with that message for kids to be honest, but this is the world we now live in – for better or worse. Still, I couldn’t help thinking that my industry may have officially jumped the shark. And right next to it was a display of YouTuber branded toys and games as well – another sign at just how rapidly the media landscape is changing. I knew that was happening a while back which is largely why I got into this space over 5 years ago. It just feels like so many have jumped on this bandwagon now that it’s largely lost its cool factor. What was once underground is now the norm.
Upon reflection though, I realized that the board game is a bit symbolic as the influencer space really is a game. All the stars who I mentioned earlier have played it very well – they collaborated with the right people, jumped on apps before others knew about them, knew what content to post, etc. They studied it like a science, and it paid off. Will there be a backlash to all this? I’m sure there will be as we’re already starting to see it in social media as a whole. Some have already fallen by using bad judgment (Logan Paul), but the smart ones will figure out a way to take advantage of that down cycle as well – just like investors who short the stock market. Quite an interesting world I work in.
1. Media, Media, Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink – Well, actually, there’s plenty to drink – in fact, you can get drunk ten times over. There may have been more media on TV networks/streaming services in 2018 then there has been in the first 100 years of motion pictures. Netflix spent 12 to 13 billion dollars on original content in 2018, and Amazon, Hulu, YouTube Premium and HBO were not far behind.
And this doesn’t include any of the social media content (primarily YouTube) where a lot of the young eyeballs are. In fact, a bunch of top influencers got in on the game and formed their own SVOD service called Zeus. Next up – Disney and Walmart’s new streaming services which may rival them all. If an MBA was the degree to get in the 80s and a law degree was the 90s, it seems like a film school degree would be a hell of a lot more valuable today then it was when I went to NYU. Welcome to the “Peak TV Era”.
2. #DeleteFacebook – Uh, yeah, maybe not the best year for Facebook. They had the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the Senate hearings and the Instagram founder leaving. Oh, and guy who sold his app to Facebook for 16 billion told everyone to hashtag #deletefacebook on Twitter- this coming months after half a dozen major tech players have dissed the platform, including Sean Parker (of Napster fame) and FB’s former head of growth who said, “we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.” On the upside – Red Table Talks on Facebook Watch seems to be getting some views – but generally speaking, no one’s watching Facebook Watch. We’ll see how their new Brand Collabs Manager does – yes, Facebook is now in the influencer marketing game too.
3. Roseanne Gets Fired Due to a Tweet –
A very successful career that spanned 4 decades was completely obliterated in a single tweet – that is the power of social media. On the other end of the spectrum, the Twitter winner of the year belongs to Korean pop boy band, BTS, who got the most mentions on the platform.
4. YouTube’s Logan Paul Problem – Logan Paul didn’t exactly have a great start to 2018. In early January, he posted an insensitive video of him in a Japanese suicide forest where he filmed an actual dead body and started cracking jokes about it. The Internet was not pleased with this – at all. Both fans and fellow YouTubers revolted big time, but the question remained – what was YouTube going to do about it?
Despite this huge misstep, he had been averaging almost 15 million views per video which is ENORMOUS. He took a short break from vlogging and later agreed to donate 1 million to suicide prevention. YouTube also reduced his ad revenue, but still, a lot of people didn’t buy his apology and wanted YouTube to do more. This brought up a larger issue on what kind of content is showing up on YouTube, even from regular people. How safe is it, and how will it affect brands willing to advertise on there?
Cut to their 2018 rewind video (year in review) which is now their most disliked video ever. Why? YouTube has pushed its “family-friendly” brand to the point where most of its most noteworthy creators were excluded. This is because many of them have turned out to be racists and insensitive.
But there were many bright spots to YouTube’s 2018. The song, Despacito was the first YouTube video to hit 5 billion views, and they also had an official hit with Cobra Kai on YouTube Premium, their SVOD service which was in the top 10 of all the streaming services earlier in the year. YouTube is also still very effective for our own influencer marketing campaigns, and we will continue to use them.
5. Popular App Musically Is Shut Down – Users Sent to Sister Platform TikTok – If you’re under 21, you may not know what either of these apps are, but Musically was hugely popular with the pre-teen set, boasting over 200 million users, above even Snapchat. TikTok was a very big app in Asia – so the parent company, Bytedance, essentially joined them together to make one really big app. Boomopolis has done many promotions on both apps.
6. Snapchat ‘s ReDesign Backfires – Users revolted heavily against Snapchat’s redesign. The company tried to correct the problem, and they’ve definitely made some progress, but many users have left. Snapchat had to layoff a ton of employees, and Instagram stories grew 6x faster than Snapchat’s entire app.
7. Trend Alert – ASMR, Gaming and Slime – So our team here did our own research project to uncover the top popular categories of channels on YouTube. One category really surprised us. ASMR – it clocked in at #14 and has been a huge growing trend on YouTube over the last few years. It basically involves a woman whispering to the camera to help you fall asleep. Defined as a “calming, pleasurable feeling often accompanied by a tingling sensation”, ASMR has also been likened to a ‘head orgasm’. Besides whispering, it also includes white noise, lip smacking, and brushing sounds. Many of these videos get upwards of 10 million views, earning some of the influencers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Along with this trend comes all the popular calming apps such as Calm, Headspace and others.
Gaming continues its huge upward trend as well, making more money than the film, TV and music industry combined. In fact, many comedy influencers we worked with in the past have pivoted to become gaming influencers for this very reason. Lastly, Slime – not completely sure of the appeal on this one, but popular Slimer, Karina Garcia, was broke 5 years ago and now has over 8 million YouTube followers and her products at Target.
8. Feuds Bring Likes – It almost feels like these internet feuds are planned ahead of time. The two parties get together and say, “Let’s start a feud and start dissing each other online. I’m sure it will get a lot of traction”. Well, they’d be right, and these feuds take on many forms – Twitter fights, diss tracks on YouTube, pay per view boxing matches (Logan Paul vs. KSI). There were so many this year, there’s no way I can name them all. A few highlights were: Niki Minaj vs. Cardi B, Jane Fonda vs. Megyn Kelly, Meghan Markle vs. her relatives and Roseanne Barr, Donald Trump and Kanye West vs. Everyone. And while not officially a feud, the breakup of Youtubers, David Dobrik and Liza Koshy was one of the top trending YouTube videos of 2018.
9. Instagram Stories Is Where It’s At – Instagram seems to be on a roll. While the launching of IGTV has had a lukewarm reception, IG Stories continues to kill it with new features added onto it regularly – the music one was particularly big in 2018. IG Stories alone has attracted over 400 million daily active users and will have helped Instagram earn more than 7 billion in mobile ad venue. We use it all the time for own influencer promotions, and I know others do the same.
10. And the Viral Hits Keep Coming – With all the viral content out there, it’s impossible to encapsulate a year’s worth in one paragraph, but here are a few clips that caught my eye. Feel free to Google them and check em out. Elevator girl with Jeff Flake at Kavanagh hearings, weather reporter acting like hurricane is blowing him over while 2 dudes casually stroll behind him, man ranting about his daughter’s eyebrows, cash for cuddles, the paper sculpture guy, the bear cub who perseveres and climbs up the mountain (my personal favorite), second level transport, animals getting out of cages, Baby, Just Go Outside by The Holderness Family, first flying cars, dogs making wrong decisions, daredevil dudes jumping on skyscrapers, Yanny vs. Laurel and last but not least, the simple video of a mountain cabin in the snow which has now racked up 44 million views. It’s just one single shot with zero camera movement and the caption, “What I Need”. Perhaps it’s what we all need – calm and silence.
-Viacom acquires both Vidcon and Awesomeness TV. Viacom then lays off 1/3rd of Awesomeoness’s staff.
-Defy Media and Verizon’s mobile first video platform, Go90 Call It Quits. Verizon may have spent as much as $1.2 billion on content acquisition for Go90. The company acquired Vessel, bought a stake in AwesomenessTV and bought distribution rights for Vice Media shows.
-Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos steps down after he sold the remainder of the business to AT&T’s Otter Media.
-Co-Founder of Vine, Colin Kroll, dies in a drug overdose.
-Latin American Themed MCN, Mitu, lays off 50% of the company.
-JD Wetherspoon abandons social media altogether, and in doing so, actually gets more publicity than most social posts would have gotten them.
-Tanacon was poised to be the anti-VidCon convention. Headed by popular YouTuber, Tana Mongeau, it ended up being a huge disaster. It also put her management company officially out of business.
On a final note, a particular article that caught my eye this past year was that “Gen Z is the Loneliest Generation” – not only due to rising social media use but a broader decline in interactions with neighbors, co-workers and church friends.
This made me a bit sad as Gen Z is our future, and they’ll be running the world. They already are to some degree. I guess my wish for 2019 is that this trend finds some way of reversing of itself – that face to face communication will be a higher priority. I know I’ve made it so in my own life.
Thanks for listening, everyone. See you in 2019
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