Episode 61: The Emmys, The Establishment, And Everyone Else

The theme for this week is going to be “what do the people want and are businesses willing to give it to them?” We’ll be hitting on the Emmys (though there’s no bigger hit than what their ratings took) and Big Tech’s struggle with change and their users. Yes, if you can believe it, people were angry on the internet this week. Let’s get to it.  

A Bad Night for the Emmys

https://www.adweek.com/tv-video/emmy-awards-2019-record-low-ratings/? 

Care to talk a little about the Emmys? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else it seems tuned in to watch this year’s addition of fancy TV people clapping for other fancy TV people, further cementing my personal view that the whole escapade is more than a little industry incestuous. This from Adweek: 

“The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, which aired on Fox this year, hit an all-time ratings low in both total viewers (6.9 million) and the 18-49 demo (1.6 rating), plummeting roughly 33% from last year’s numbers, which had also been record lows.

Last year, the NBC telecast was watched by 10.2 million people and received a 2.4 demo rating.”

I find myself asking “what’s the deal” here. This is the Golden Age of TV, or so I’m told. How can no one care about awards if the TV landscape is really so competitive and robust? Personally, I don’t buy it, and I think this is further proof that the content people are consistently enjoying (and by extension are invested enough to care about awards for) has almost fully migrated to user generated content. You know what people ARE invested in? Beefs and feuds between streamers and vloggers. They’re invested in PewDiePie VS T-Series. They’re invested in who made it into the Youtube Rewind video each year (and who didn’t!). And that’s not say that those mini-events are pulling in more than 7 million; they aren’t. But they are hollowing out the audience base that used to be emotionally invested in more collective events, like the Emmy’s. I expect award show season to continue to be a great deal of sound and fury, signifying nothing. 

YouTube Flip-Flops on Badges 

https://marketingland.com/youtube-gives-back-verified-badges-to-creators-after-backlash-over-recent-changes-267825   

Speaking of YouTube creators, another minor dust up occurred this week after YouTube instituted its next move in trying to clean up its image with advertisers. Up until now, content creators that reached 100,000 subscribers were reward with a digital badge that appeared on their account, a Verification Badge of sorts, that confirmed to viewers that this account is the person or brand they claimed to be. However, on September 19th, YouTube reclassified the basis of handing out these badges, both to increase the burden of proof on the creator to show that they’re not an impersonator, and clarifying that the badge was NOT a status of endorsement from YouTube in the case of objectionable content, which has been a problem for them as of late. In short, lots of creators lost their badges, and they were hopping mad. Within a day, YouTube reinstated all the badges that had been lost and apologized, but said going forward all verification would have to meet their new expectations.

This story is interesting to me when considered in conjunction with the news from last week about Instagram considering dropping the ability to view the number of Likes a post has. 

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/25/tech/instagram-hiding-likes-influencers/index.html 

Supposedly the beta being tested outside the US has influencers already reporting a drop in likes and engagement. Instagram’s justification cites the effect on the app’s users’ mental health when they’re able to compare the number of Likes they get to others, and so Instagram wants to cultivate a healthier space. Not to be too cynical (if it’s not already too late), I suspect Instagram simply wants to be seen as cultivating a healthier space. Mental health is very trendy right now, and advocates are banging on the gates of Big Tech to do SOMETHING. Anything. It’s optics.

Change is always hard on platforms, especially when tiny economies begin to develop inside them, like with vloggers and influencers. The optics of being a billion dollar corporation trouncing on full-time content creators’ livelihood aren’t good. So here sit the collective Big Tech companies, all watching each other as they each handle their respective (and overlapping) ravenous user bases, trying to figure out how to balance making money off of good optics with making money off of content creators. I expect the creators to be on the losing end of this tug of war. 

Snapchat Extends Length of Ads

https://adage.com/article/special-report-advertising-week/snapchat-extends-video-ad-limit-3-minutes-viewers-can-still-skip/2199971 

Snapchat is basically synonymous with short-form video, or at least it was until Instagram blatantly copied them. Now they’re making way for something a little longer. 

“Snapchat is relaxing its time constraints for ads, allowing marketers to deliver videos of up to three minutes long, instead of the 10-second cap that has been in place since the platform first started showing commercials in 2014.” 

Now Snapchat has had longer form video options available for advertisers, using the swipe up feature to move users along in ads that interested them. This update will place the longer material directly into the users’ feeds, although Snapchat says the longer ads will be directly targeting users who are more prone to watching longer-form content, so there’s plenty of careful calculations going into this.  However, just like with all ads on Snapchat, these longer ones will remain skippable. Thank goodness. 

I’ll admit, I’ve never been big into Snapchat. I’m on record across various mediums predicting it won’t make it in the long run, and part of that has been because it struggles so much to advertise, which by extension makes it hard to monetize. And suddenly we’re encounter our theme of the week once again: advertisers or users? Maybe users won’t mind this adjustment atll; maybe they’ll even like it, if Snapchat’s claim about targeting is true. I just hope Snapchat isn’t drifting away from what makes them… them! Instagram just tried longform content, and you don’t hear anyone begging to be included on IGTV, do you? I guess only time will tell. 

That’s all for this week. If you have any thoughts or opinions on the topics discussed in this week’s episode, let me know in the comments on social media, or on our YouTube channel. And if you have a moment, it would be great if you could head over to iTunes and leave us a good review. And also: let me know if you want me to dive deeper into either of the issues we hit on here. Is this the Golden Age of TV or not? And which will Big Tech pick, advertisers and optics or creators and content? 

Hunter Smith