I will be going to VidCon 2017, the world’s largest online video conference for fans, creatives, and industry professionals. The four-day event opens its doors on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, at 9:00 a.m. If it is anything like the last VidCon that I attended, the line to get into the Anaheim Convention Center will wrap around the largest exhibit facility on the West Coast and off into the sunrise. For video marketers who want critical data, the total attendance at last year’s event was 26,400.

The line will be populated with tens of thousands of teenagers (entirely Gen Z) with their parents who will be going to the Community track, thousands of amateur creators and more than 300 YouTube stars (mostly Millennials) who will be going to the Creator track, and about 1,600 professionals and leaders in the digital video marketing business (mostly Gen Xers and Baby Boomers) who will be going to the Industry track. I will be one of the members of this third group, but after looking over the 66 sessions on the Industry track agenda I will be feeling like a kid in a candy store.

VidCon Industry Track 2017

Now, there is no possible way for me to attend all 66 of those sessions – let alone attend any of the sessions in the Creator or Community tracks. The vast majority of the Industry track sessions are concurrent, so attending one means missing up to three others. But if this industry teaches us anything, then it’s that we all face hard choices every day. No one will be successful in video marketing trying to be all things to all people. So, with that strategic insight out of the way, here is some tactical advice on the more than two dozen must-attend sessions that I’ve added to my calendar:

Thursday, June 22

9:00-9:45 a.m. – The Late Late Show with James Corden: Internet Success, TV Reach

James Corden’s post-midnight talk show on CBS is more than just a TV sensation. The producers carefully crafted much of the show so it would translate to internet success as well as appeal to a broadcast audience — to the tune of 1 billion YouTube views, Emmy awards, and spin off series. How did they do it? This session brings together the key team to share their recipe for creating these segments that work so well across both media. In addition, they will explore their creative process, how they learn from what doesn’t work, and how you can apply their lessons to creating your own watercooler moments.

10:00-11:00 a.m. – Reverse Engineering the YouTube Algorithm Expanded

In his second essay on the subject, Matt Gielen of Little Monster Media deconstructed how YouTube uses various elements of demographic information and machine learning to promote videos across its site to audiences. Matt presents the high level view of his findings, with details on how you as a creator or video publisher can leverage these algorithm discoveries to build your audience.

11::05-11:25 a.m. – Research Debut: Just How Effective Are Influencers in Driving Sales?

There has been little research work done to date that digs deeper into better understanding how to optimize impact from influencer marketing and video content. Gen.video and Geometry Global are unveiling the first ever results of a broad survey of more than 1,000 shoppers to aid brands and influencers on what types of content, which platforms, and what level of audience size have the greatest impact on purchases. The study used traditional survey techniques and advanced facial coding technology to observe respondents as they watched different types of influencer videos, including reviews, lifestyle, and charitable to measure impact, brand engagement, and purchase intent.

11:25-11:45 a.m. – Research and Insights: Allyship in Advertising

YouTube’s Director of Diverse Marketing, Oona King, shares new research on how Black and Hispanic millennials engage with online video and what they want from advertisers.

11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – What Teens Really Watch, Do, and Want

You’ve probably already heard the debate about how GenZ and GenY are very different. But what does the Snapchat generation really want from their media? How and where do they consume video? Do they ever watch TV? How quickly do they adopt new platforms? Be part of a round-table discussion with four actual GenZ teens (from 14-18) as we explore this and more!

1:00-2:00 p.m. – VidCon Keynote: A Conversation with YouTube

Featuring CEO Susan Wojcicki, top creators, and exciting updates for the YouTube community.

2:15-2:25 p.m. – VidCon Industry Welcome from John Green

VidCon co-founder John Green welcomes everyone to the VidCon Industry track with his annual look at the state of the space.

2:25-2:45 p.m. – Fireside Chat with Jordan Levin – New CEO of Awesomeness

In May, Jordan Levin was announced as the new CEO of Awesomeness. We’ll learn why joining Awesomeness, the video industry leader with Gen Z, from his role at the NFL as Chief Content Officer, is the culmination of a three decade career running media companies, targeting young adult audiences, building traditional and digital platforms, and working as an executive producer and director. From serving as CEO of The WB (now CW), to founding Generate, to working at Xbox and Disney, Jordan has played a leadership role in how the content and talent business has evolved. Join Jordan and UTA Partner Brent Weinstein for a wide-ranging conversation on where the industry is going, the future of Awesomeness, and why Gen Z is the most important audience you haven’t met yet.

2:45-3:05 p.m. – Fireside Chat with Brad Allen, Executive Chairman of NextVR

Brad Allen is Executive Chairman at NextVR, one of the early leaders in bringing VR to live sports. NextVR has just wrapped up an extremely successful season with the NBA, and this session will explore the future of VR, the future of sports, and how NextVR will be bringing it all together.

3:05-3:25 p.m. – Fireside Chat with Van Toffler, CEO of Gunpowder and Sky

He was one of the early leaders of MTV and now runs the innovative new studio Gunpowder and Sky. Hear all about what it was like to build MTV, his vision for the new studio, and where he sees the future of digital-first and traditional entertainment.

3:25-3:45 p.m. – Fireside Chat with Tom Ryan, CEO of Pluto TV

Wondering what the future of the TV bundle might look like? Pluto TV has come out of nowhere to build a free streaming platform that works across most devices, and includes both top tier content and new streaming sources from people you’ve never heard of. Maybe the future isn’t on demand after all, but instead an always-on, always “live” collection of hundreds of channels. This discussion explores where Pluto TV is going, what the future of internet-delivered video looks like, and how live, on-demand, paid and ad-supported media will all co-exist.

3:45-4:05 p.m. – Fireside Chat with Alex Hofmann, President North America of musical.ly

It seems like the hottest new online video platform these days is musical.ly which, along with its live platform live.ly, has upended the notion of a live video platform. With a focus on a single sustainable format and engaging tweens and teens, the power of both platforms has risen exponentially since they launched. What does the future look like for these brands? How do you build and sustain audiences? How should marketers and brands work with the platform? Hear from one of the co-founders of the popular service, along with some special guests!

4:05-4:25 p.m. – Fireside Chat with Tony Goncalves, SVP Strategy and Business Development at AT&T Entertainment Group

Tony Goncalves is the AT&T executive responsible for some of the company’s latest forays into consumer video, including DirecTV Now and Otter Media. In this fireside chat he discusses the future of TV, digital video, and media in general with Jon Steinberg, CEO of financial video network Cheddar.

4:25-4:45 p.m. – Fireside Chat with Kevin Systrom, CEO and Co-Founder of Instagram

It’s been a busy year for Instagram, and their global community has grown to more than 700 million users. With the launch of Instagram Stories, live video, and more, creators and brands are finding new ways to reach engaged audiences on Instagram. CEO Kevin Systrom talks about Instagram’s recent growth and commitment to the creator community.

4:45-5:30 p.m. – Verizon Industry Keynote

Marni Walden is responsible for integrating, scaling, and growing Verizon’s portfolio of new businesses in digital media and telematics. In her keynote, Marni and her team talk about Verizon’s vision for its growing digital media business, including go90, Oath, Fios, Complex, AwesomenessTV, and more.

(You’ll notice that I have a 15 minute break in the morning and a half break at lunch, but, as Governor William J. Le Petomane (Mel Brooks) says in Blazing Saddles, it’s, “Work, work, work! Work, work, work! Work, work, work!” And, this is just the first day of the Industry track.)

Friday, June 23

9:00-9:45 a.m. – Programmatic Advertising: Stairway to Heaven or Highway to Hell?

(I should disclose that I’m moderating this session, but Mark Robertson is one of my panelists, so we hope long-time readers of Tubular Insights, fka ReelSEO, will skip The Future of Facebook Video session and attend ours. I know, I’m asking you to pick a couple of old friends in one of the smaller rooms over the Facebook product and partnerships team in the ballroom. Hey, I told you that we all face hard choices every day. So, why should you attend this session?)

At its best, programmatic advertising enables advertisers to buy media more efficiently — helping them to craft more sophisticated and targeted campaigns at the best possible prices. But when ads are placed across more than two million websites, videos, and apps in the Google Display Network, there’s always a risk that an ad will show up before or next to hateful, offensive, and derogatory content. Recently, a number of big advertisers dropped out of YouTube and the Google Display Network when their ads started running next to content that didn’t align with their values. This is relevant to every single ad tech company that buys inventory at scale that very, very targeted at low costs. All of this has triggered a conversation in the advertising industry around hard questions like, “How do we start valuing context and quality?” and “How do we ensure brand safety in a programmatic world?” This session will explore what’s feasible and what you can do about it today and in the future.

10:00-10:45 a.m. – Creators Tell Brands and Agencies What THEY Want

Want to know how to work with creators? Find out from the horses’ mouth. This session brings together four of the top online video creators and will explore just how they like to work with brands on activations, sponsorships, and other collaborations. This session is a sister session with “Brands Tell Creators How to Work with Us” happening on the Creator Track, Saturday at 2:00 PM, where we turn the tables and have agencies and brands tell creators about how they like to work with them. Don’t miss either session!

11:00-11:20 a.m. – Fireside Chat with Fidji Simo of Facebook

It’s been another busy year for Facebook on the video front, as live and 360 video have moved to the forefront of the social network’s news feed. But what about monetization? And where is video going on Facebook? Fidji Simo, Facebook’s Head of Video, News, and Advertising Product and Engineering talks about what’s working and what’s next.

11:20-11:40 a.m. – MatPat: Sustainability in Digital: How to Build a Programming Strategy That Won’t Burn You Out

2016 was the year of YouTube burnout. Many large channels like Prank vs. Prank, Casey Neistat, and most recently Epic Rap Battles have announced that working on the digital video treadmill has left them creatively depleted. And at a time when online algorithms are demanding more content more frequently, how can both creators and brands cope with the constant demand for content? Two words: smarter programming. This presentation explores the burnout trend and discusses programmatic solutions that allow for a regular flow of content without exhausting production resources. Learn how to space out and leverage tentpole events, find the right upload cadence for your content vertical, and more.

11:40 a.m.-12:00 p.m. – Return on Relationships: Influence vs. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing” has become one of the most overused terms in the industry these days. But what is influence? What is an influencer? If someone buys views, followers, likes, and shares, are they truly an influencer? How do you judge organic vs. paid influence in this world? Brian Solis, from Altimeter/Prophet has been exploring this world extensively and has new insight as to how to truly value — and leverage — influence.

12:00-12:20 p.m. – Fireside Chat with Andrew Sugerman, EVP of Content and Media at Disney

Andrew Sugerman is now running Maker — along with a broad portfolio of Disney assets. In this fireside chat, he explains the new vision for Maker, how it fits into the broader Disney portfolio, and what’s next.

12:20-12:40 p.m. – Jack Conte Keynote Conversation with Hank Green

Jack’s been a leader in the online video industry since the beginning, and with the launch of popular monetization platform Patreon, he now helps thousands of creators build a career doing what they love. In this fireside chat, Jack and VidCon co-founder Hank Green talk about the future of online video, monetization, the “adpocalypse,” and whatever else is on their minds.

1:00-1:45 p.m. – Social Video Secrets from BuzzFeed’s Experts

How do they do it? BuzzFeed consistently ranks as one of the top social video producers in views, creativity, and shareability. In this session, three of BuzzFeed’s video experts share their insights on how great, shareable video gets produced — from coming up with the ideas, to packaging and promoting the video, to the data and insights that drive the whole process.

2:00-2:45 p.m. – How an Unexpected Mash-Up of Influencers and PR Delivers ROMI to Brands

(Once again, I should disclose that I’m speaking at this session. So, why should attend this one instead of New Business Models for Online Video, VR for Creators 101, or The Future of News? They are all good choices and it’s worth noting that I’ll be speaking in one of the smaller rooms. Nevertheless, as the Grail Knight says in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “You must choose. But choose wisely.”)

Well, over the past 15 years, I’ve refined an innovative approach to PR using targeted identification of influencers, specific engagement strategies to attract their interest, and practical ways to measure the return on marketing investment (ROMI) for these initiatives. The results speak for themselves: $2.5 million in tickets sales for Southwest Airlines; 450,000 unique visitors in 24 hours for The Christian Science Monitor; 129,155 online entries into a cover photo contest for Parents magazine; and $29,970 in incremental revenue at a cost of only $2,323 for Rutgers Business School Executive Education. In this session, I’ll share the counter-intuitive best practices and strategies for getting a positive ROMI from your brand’s PR. Attendees (and their agencies) will learn how to identify the right influencers who impact brand awareness and brand interest, find the right engagement tactics to optimize schmoozing with each influencer, and measure the performance of your programs using metrics that really matter.

3:00-3:45 p.m. – The Future of eSports: How Online Video Impacts Competitive Gaming

Online video has played a critical role in the growing popularity and commercial success of esports. As live streaming and video-on-demand (VOD) platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and Beam enable competitive gamers to broadcast matches, an entire industry is being built around online gaming. But will esports truly become mainstream? If so, how will it compare with traditional athletics in the future? This panel brings together game publishers, streaming platforms, and professional esports teams to explore these issues. We’ll debate how game design has changed to support mass viewing, how professional gamers should measure their audience, and how brands and agencies can work with this new generation of online influencers. Finally, expect insight as to which streaming platforms work best and whether virtual reality (VR) will radically reshape the gaming industry.

4:00-4:45 p.m. – 360 Video Best Practices

Since installing a VR theater in their Vegas-based research facility earlier this year, Nielsen has tested over 100 VR experiences with general consumers from across the country. Join Nielsen’s Director of VR & Lab Research Harry Brisson as he dives into their testing database to investigate what content qualities drive the most positive experiences in 360 video — identifying actionable steps 360 video creators can take to ensure their content is effective both for consumers and for brand sponsors.

5:00-5:45 p.m. – Beyond Organic: Getting the Best ROI Out of a Branded Content Operation

Branded content operations can often have spectacular results with audiences, in terms of engagement. However, brand clients often find it hard to get precise KPIs of their campaign beyond superficial impressions, and when they do, can be disappointed by its poor reach and targeting. A data-driven approach to both selection of the influencer, and then to paid amplification of the organic reach of the video, yields spectacular and measurable improvements for brand content operations.

(See, it takes a lot of advanced planning to navigate your way through the 66 sessions in the Industry track at VidCon 2017. As Boromir (Sean Bean) says in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, “One does not simply walk into Mordor.”)

Saturday, June 24

Now, you may think this is the end. Well, it isn’t. VidCon announced recently that CreatorUp, a leading digital media training provider based in Los Angeles, will launch two high-level workshops for VidCon attendees of the Industry and Creator Tracks.

In a press release, Jim Louderback, the Editorial Director for VidCon’s Industry Tracks, said:

“VidCon has always been about learning new things, gaining new skills and improving your game when it comes to online video.” He added, “We’re super excited to take this to the next level with the addition of these two half-day workshops that will deliver a tremendous amount of value to our attendees — at no additional cost beyond standard admission.”

A global provider of executive training for clients like YouTube, L’Oreal, BBDO, and Mullen Lowe, CreatorUp will preview its industry-facing training series in a half-day interactive workshop, “Platform Deep Dive for Industry” (for YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat), where brand and agency participants will work with experts to develop customized, digital-native action plans they’ll take from the workshop as usable assets.

CreatorUp will also introduce its creator-facing training series with another workshop at Vidcon, “Business Skills Level-Up for creators.” Participants will work with experts from across the media and entertainment industry to understand the business side of successful content creation, and build assets like digital press kits and branded content pitch strategies.

The CreatorUp workshops will run at Vidcon in Anaheim on Saturday, June 24 from 10 AM to 1 PM. The lineup of over 300 Featured Creators participating in 2017, as well as the full agenda and list of Industry Speakers can be found on the VidCon website. The Creator track is sold out, but tickets for the Industry track can still be purchased at vidcon.com/register.

If you decide to attend VidCon 2017, look for me. I’ll be wearing a New York Yankees sweater. I know, I’m a Boston Red Sox fan, but as long-time readers of Tubular Insights already know, I lost a bet at the 2017 Digital Content NewFronts back in early May.