Non-US based lovers of online video insights have spent years looking longingly towards the Southern Californian town of Anaheim where VidCon has set out its annual stall for the past 8 years. But this year, the event – which has extended its reach far beyond the original scope of making content work on YouTube – opened up its doors to the industry in Amsterdam, and welcomed all to discuss what’s hot and happening in online video in Europe, and beyond.

While thousands of young fans flocked to the Dutch city, eager to meet their online video heroes, the Industry Track at VidCon Europe also attracted an impressive number of industry professionals, keen to attend 3 days of sessions around the state of online video. Representatives from the BBC, Instagram, New Form Digital, Group Nine, Studio71, Tubular Labs, VICE and others gave invaluable insights into current and future trends in branded video content, platform features, advertising, and influencer marketing. Although we dipped our toes into the equally impressive Creator and Community tracks, this post brings you 15 tips that and takeaways from an industry perspective from VidCon Europe 2017. We also spoke with VidCon co-founder Hank Green about the exciting opportunities Europe has to offer when it comes to online video.

15 Takeaways from VidCon Europe 2017

#1 Musical.ly is THE next big platform – there was an extraordinary amount of buzz around the app and literally everyone in the Industry track was talking about it. Why? Because it is investing in creators and helping them grow which means that huge branded and sponsored opportunities are just around the corner.

#2 On Facebook, the top creators are more likely to speak their native language. On average, 80% of top creators in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain speak their native language rather than English or another language. As a publisher, you absolutely need to have a language production and tagging strategy if you want to work within this market.

#3 Kids’ Entertainment, Film & Movies and Gaming are the over performing categories to date in Europe on YouTube (report from Tubular to follow).

#4 Publishers and brands need to learn to work with the video platform algorithms, not against them. For instance, the first hour after upload is THE most crucial for the YouTube algorithm, followed by the next 23 hours. Publishing within that timeframe on YouTube is your one big moment – it’s when YouTube decides whether your content lives on or is quickly buried so don’t waste a second of that opportunity.

#5 Following on from #4, you must optimize your YouTube uploads  – this is absolutely non-negotiable. Use one exact match keyword in the title, and use broad match keywords in the description. Keep your YouTube tags centered around your exact match keyword.

#6 When it comes to custom thumbnails on YouTube – create a compelling facial image if you can. We read from left to right, so keep the most interesting image on the on the left, and keep your branding in the upper right hand corner. Ideally, your thumbnail should tell a compelling story with 1 image and just 1-2 keywords. Most of YouTube consumption is happening via mobile so design your thumbnails for that.

#7 Brands, publishers, and creators need to understand that the most important person in a follower’s life is themselves. That follower or subscriber will only truly engage with your content when it means something to them. The follower wants to know, what is in it for me? So answer that question and you are more likely to win that person over.

#8 When promoting your Snapchat account on other social media channels, always promote your Snapchat user name and tell your community what to do. Engage them, and encourage them to add each other to Snapchat too. Remember that 1K views on Snapchat = 1K likes.

#9 We are moving from the interruption economy to the to the conversation economy – brands are now able to make decisions based on real-time comments and feedback from the Internet. Hire a stellar social media team to handle crisis management, and train your social teams to react appropriately.

#10 European content creators export over 48% of their content outside of their home country on YouTube

#11 It is never too late to be Facebook famous – 44% of top Facebook creators were not top creators six months ago!

#12 Cross-posting videos across all your social channels can potentially dilute the brand. Instead, find sharing partners, as this can help create viral energy. Build relationships with page owners and creators, encourage them to share with a link page to your page, and return the favor.

#13 Facebook is measuring how long users hang around (dwell time) so create video content that keeps them engaged. Use the Playlist feature on your page and guide the viewer into watching more videos for longer.

#14 Fill out the notes on Facebook! These are searched by Google so will help with Google reach.

#15 Daily active views is a very active metric on YouTube, and Channels that are driving high daily active users are skyrocketing. It’s not enough to create one strong video (although that’s a good thing of course) but you need to follow up and be consistent when posting videos to YouTube. Keep subscribers and viewers coming back every day if you can.

Hank Green: Creators and Brands Should Embrace Their Native Language for Their Own Markets

Hank Green started creating YouTube content alongside brother John way back in 2007, and together they launched VidCon as a celebration and exploration of the video platform in 2010. The event now covers a multitude of social video platforms, and has become a must-attend conference for creators, fans, and industry professionals alike. He took time out of his insanely busy schedule to tell us his thoughts on the state of video in Europe, and why creators and brands should embrace their native language when it comes to online video content.

Tubular Insights: Why VidCon Europe and why in Amsterdam? Is it because it’s the first opportunity you’ve had to put on VidCon outside of the US, or is it because you are very excited about what’s happening in Europe in terms of online video?

Hank Green: I’m really interested in smaller market content in general, and Europe is a really great hotbed of smaller market content, because of the language fragmentation. There are lots of robust language groups, like French, German, Spanish, and Catalan, but there’s also a lot of consumption of English-language content in Europe, and that is a concern of mine.

Of course, you’ll attract a larger audience if you’re an English-speaking content creator, because there’s a larger audience of English-speaking people. But, the concern is that everyone will make content in English, and there won’t be content for people who don’t speak English well, or who don’t speak English at all. It’s a big area of interest for me, people who are making it work with smaller audiences, because that’s really hard. It’s more of a challenge to monetize content in a more niche market.

TI: I’ve heard a lot in the last few days (at VidCon Europe) that the English language is comfortable for European millennials, with younger people being taught English from a very early age. So perhaps it’s more business and branded type content that needs to be created in the native language? 

Hank: Viewers are naturally drawn to content that already has more views – they are like, “Oh, this must be good, it has lots of views!” It makes sense to make content for the English-speaking markets around the world, but brands should be looking to leverage these markets with original content, not translating English to German via closed captions or whatever.  It’s not going to get them quite the same return, but as production costs come down, it’s going to be easier to do that.

TI: Video advertising costs haven’t really come down though, right?

Hank: No, which is interesting, because you can get a YouTuber to do a brand deal for a hundredth of what you would pay an agency to make that same video. That’s an interesting new model for advertising, because although we are seeing the ‘robotification’ of advertising, we still have the traditional agency infrastructure, and that really hasn’t been disrupted. The agencies are still often involved in brand deals, though less and less, because they get worse results than brands working directly with the creators…

TI: What do you think about YouTube’s decision to no longer allow creators to make money until they reach 10,000 views? 

Hank: The ten thousand view change doesn’t concern me. It’s ten thousand views, it’s ten bucks. It’s 100% designed to catch bots that are creating thousands of new channels a day, and uploading inappropriate content or unlicensed content. It’s a more automatic process for catching those channels rather than punishing little creators. In a practical sense, that’s a lot of lost revenue for YouTube, but it’s not a lot of lost revenue for any individual person.

TI: And your thoughts on the current furore surrounding some YouTube ads being run against unsavory content?

Hank: It is a mess, and it’s not an easy mess to fix. Google thinks that the solution is, “We can guarantee you that only 0.01% of your ads will show up against content that is vile and disgusting. But what big brands like Coca Cola, Nike, and others want to hear is 0%. Those brands are saying “We need for no reporter to ever be able to send us a screenshot of a Coca Cola ad on top of a title that has the N-word in it. Zero times. It’s not about funding racists, and it’s not about a viewer seeing that ad and making the connection. It’s all about a journalist finding that ad on that content and making a huge deal about it.

So that is a very hard problem to solve, and it does make me legitimately concerned. YouTube needs to be a sustainable safe place, and I think eventually most viewers understand that running an ad against a piece of content isn’t necessarily an endorsement of that content, but right now that’s not actually fully understood.

I think that to some people, especially people who are used to consuming content in the ‘old way’, there is confusion. They see that Bill O’Reilly just got a bunch of his ads pulled off TV, and if that’s an advertiser’s job – to decide whether or not they want to endorse the content that they’re appearing next to – then that’s a problem for programmatic advertising. But programmatic advertising is the only way to fully monetize YouTube, and if we lose it, then there’s a lot of small creators who will suffer.

I mean, even big channels like ours (Crash Course, SciShow) have to figure out ways to make the revenue up, but luckily we have enough inventory that the big-time advertisers will hand-select us. But for any creator who’s getting a hundred thousand views a month, and is relying on YouTube revenue to supplement their income, that could be a tremendous loss for them, and also for the entire creative culture. If smaller niche creators can’t find a way of making at least some money via YouTube, we are going to lose out on so much innovative content. The type of content that won’t get created via traditional media channels.

TI: Yes. Are you still a big YouTube fan?

Hank: I’m a big fan of content on YouTube, I’m a big fan of the platform YouTube, yeah.

VidCon is hoping that the Amsterdam conference becomes an annual event outside of the US, and is currently looking towards the next events in Anaheim, and in Melbourne, Australia, later this year. We’d like to thank Jim Louderback, and Hank Green for their time, and for the support they both show the industry. Stay tuned for more insights from VidCon Europe over the coming weeks.