For those of us not familiar with the ICX Media Platform, please tell us a little more about your company and offering.
ICX Media is a technology platform for video creators. We enable creators to publish, manage and promote their content across multiple platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Twitter and, soon, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Amazon and many more, all through a single interface. This is incredibly powerful, especially when combined with our deep data and analytics backbone, because it means that our creators cannot only see who is following their work, but also how that content compares to peers with similar audiences. Armed with this information, content producers can make informed decisions for where and how to reach more viewers and do it all within ICX Media. We also provide media companies, brands and studios a way to discover creators and great content they can license and distribute across OTT, VOD, and more premium platforms.
There are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of independent content and video producers that are trying to get distribution for their media, and also looking to monetize it. What do you think are some of the biggest challenges that independent content producers face today?
There are many challenges for independent creators and video producers. Some of the most common we hear are:
It’s very difficult for independent creators to get their content seen. There is so much content being produced that it’s hard to stand out.
It’s hard to make a meaningful amount of money, especially when you take into account the costs it can take to develop quality content.
ICX Media is looking to help with these challenges through big data and easy to use, web-based software tools. By creating a single interface where creators can manage and promote their content, we can provide creators with rich information and insights about viewers and user engagement across multiple platforms. As result, these video producers become better informed about who their audience is, where to reach them, and what types of content–based both on their own video library and that of their peers–is best suited to effectively attract more viewers.
Monetization on platforms like YouTube have been known to not be that great, other than for the top content producers on the platform like PewPewDie (and even he only made $2M for having the most watched channel throughout the year). What are your thoughts on YouTube as a monetization channel for the mid-long tail of content creators?
YouTube is a priority for many of the mid- and long-tail creators because that’s where the largest audience is. But that’s exactly the problem: everyone is putting their content up on YouTube and as result, it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out and draw a healthy following which is the key ingredient to monetization.
As a creator you have to become much smarter at finding your audience and engaging with them at the right time and place, and ICX Media can help you with that. What’s more, it’s not just about YouTube anymore. The fact is, the landscape is changing dramatically and at lightning speed. Facebook has made tremendous traction in video over the past year, and Snapchat is also blowing up. And there are still others: Twitter, Vimeo, Vine, and now Amazon is even getting into the game. To make more money on their video content, producers need to consider where else they can be present and reach similar audiences.
Also, while each of these distribution and social platforms have unique nuances, there are ways to get your content seen and promoted through them without necessarily having to do a whole rework of your content. And the more you can do just that, the more you can increase the revenue potential of your work.
What is your opinion on the dozens of influencer marketing platforms out there like Famebit, Revfluence, Little Bird, Instabrand, etc? Should an influencer be participating in all these platforms, or just reaching out to advertisers and brands directly?
There has been an explosion of influencer marketing platforms and they all have their own niche solutions. These businesses are hyper-focused on connecting creators to brands and agencies to develop branded content, and some are better than others.
Creators who already have a strong following and known “name” may not find a need to use one of these services, and instead, choose to reach advertisers directly. The majority of creators don’t have the advantage of a known “name” and, however, don’t necessarily have this advantage. Influencer marketing companies can then be a great option. I think it’s a matter of really understanding how the various services available differ from one another, the vastness of their network and what factors lead to successful engagements.
We sometimes get compared to influencer marketing services. While there are some similarities, our approach and scope is completely different. ICX Media is building a technology that is going to do much more than helping creators work with brands and agencies. We want to create a platform that brings in players across the entire content distribution ecosystem from brands and agencies to studios, traditional TV networks, and more. We do this while also providing tools to allow creators to manage, promote and monetize their broader portfolio of content across a variety of digital and social networks. Long term I could see a time when influencer marketing companies might build on top of our platform to access our community. We’ll see how that plays out.
ICX sounds sort of like a YouTube Multi-Channel network but for all video platforms, that helps with distribution, syndication, and monetization of the creators’ content. Would you say this is a fair assessment, and are there any other services you provide on top of that?
Some people have coined ICX Media as a “next gen” multi-channel network and that’s understandable. At the surface we are trying to accomplish many of the same things, but we are building a business that is fundamentally different than that of the major MCNs.
The best MCNs are really great at curating and programming, building brands around their content, and hiring strong ad sales teams. They are truly services-based businesses, often built by some of the best studio talent in Hollywood and New York. A few of these MCNs have also gone to great lengths to try and build custom technology solutions much in the way we have, but with an industry that is so rapid-moving, many of these MCNs struggle to keep up when it comes to technology and data analytics. For example, when the early MCNs came to market, it was the best practice to use only YouTube for content distribution, and Facebook and Twitter for marketing and promotion. Now there are so many more players across the spectrum, which adds significant complexity and costs for MCNs who have not made an adequate investment in their technology.
Down the road, we anticipate that many MCNs may choose to tap into ICX Media to discover new talent and emerging content across multiple platforms, much in the way media companies, brands, studios and other buyers will. We also think that many MCNs might ultimately choose to build on ICX Media’s platform instead of building their own technology and data analytics stacks. By focusing on technology, we can give the power and control completely to the creators from the get go. It doesn’t matter if you are a content producer just starting out or a highly sought after production house with a giant following–everyone gets access to the ICX Media platform.
Is the ultimate goal to build the largest database of independent video content in the world, that brands, agencies, publishers and others can license for their own use – all while helping these independent video creators monetize their work?
Our mission is to empower content creators everywhere through powerful technology and insights that enables them to find more viewers for their content, and, ultimately, to make more money. The way to do this is by building the world’s largest most robust platform for creators and buyers to find and distribute content. And this will result in a very large dataset of information that tells us how digital video is marketed, distributed, viewed and monetized. We are 100% focused on addressing the needs of our community and building a technology product that scales quickly and can evolve with the fast-changing digital media landscape.
What are your thoughts on upcoming video platforms like Facebook Video, Twitter Video, Instagram, and even Snapchat for content producers?
As we discussed earlier, YouTube has owned the online video space for a long time, but it is no longer the only destination for digital consumers. Not only are digital first companies such as Facebook, Vimeo, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram taking a piece of the pie, but traditional TV players and a whole host of digital subscription services are also rapidly joining in. This is due to consumers shifting their viewing more and more from traditional cable services to web, mobile and OTT services.
What I think is so exciting about all of this is that for content producers, it opens up so many more opportunities to push their work to more places and reach more viewers. It, of course, also means there is a lot more to manage in terms of juggling all these platforms in order to fully monetize a creator’s ever-growing production investments.
If you aren’t already considering the major social platforms for distributing and promoting video content, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, then you should be. While right now the format on some channels, such as Snapchat and Instagram, is catered to short video clips, we expect that to change over the long-haul. Creators should be getting familiar with these newer channels and testing their content in a variety of ways to see what works. Additionally, as Amazon ramps up it’s new Video Direct service, a direct competitor to YouTube, creators should look for ways to jump in and take advantage of this new distribution platform, particularly as it’s growing in popularity and scale.
Beyond this, we also believe that for some creators, there will become more and more opportunities to license through subscription services like Netflix, Vessel and Amazon Prime as well as through more traditional digital media companies and studios. It will come down to what kind of content and projects creators are delivering, and how this work best supports the objectives and goals of each distribution platform. Our goal at ICX Media is to help match creators to the opportunities that best suit their work.
Currently, is there a platform that allows an independent video producer that upload their content to multiple platforms at once? Where the platform knows the specs for each of these destinations and can automatically convert the seed video file to the applicable format?
To be clear, ICX Media doesn’t host and store creator content. Instead, what we are offering is a technology solution that links to wherever a content producers assets live, be it Google Drive, Dropbox, other cloud storage solutions, or even a local hard drive, and manage how all that content is being distributed and marketed across all digital and social platforms available. The power is not only around the efficiency gains a creator gets by doing this via one interface, but even more so around the rich data and insights that are gathered. We are able to analyze how a creators content performs across the entire digital sphere and provide that information along with custom insights to creators to help them grow their viewership and, ultimately, make more money.
Lastly, what is your take on the future of distribution, and monetization for independent content producers?
Without a doubt, there will continue to be more distribution, marketing and monetization choices for independent content producers, which will create more opportunities for creators, but will also cause ever more complexity in the market. We will also continue to see a proliferation of digital video content available for consumers. Though more and more consumers are shifting their viewing habits to consume video through web, mobile and OTT services, we are always reminded that the length of a day remains constant at 24 hours. The real scarce resource for creators is the attention of their audiences. To be more successful, and ultimately make more money, content creators have to break through the noise and find the audiences that are interested in what they have to say. That is what ICX media is all about: using technology and data analytics to help independent creators navigate the complexities of the market, find and grow their audience and make more money.
We are only in the early innings of this data-driven approach to content production, marketing and distribution. I expect to see a continued acceleration of the use of data analytics and technology in the content creation and distribution world in the coming months and years as more media companies, traditional and cutting edge, embrace the use of modern technology and big data.
ICX Media is an entirely new kind of media company founded by a senior team of digital media veterans. We empower independent content creators by providing them with deep insight and understanding for how to more effectively manage, market and monetize digital video content across multiple platforms through a single interface. ICX Media also provides media companies, brands and studios with the ability to discover and license new video content fit for their audiences through our growing creator community. Visit www.icxmedia.com for more information, or to sign up for our beta program. You can also follow us @icxmedia on Twitter.