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An Interview With Marc Simons, Cofounder of Giant Spoon

What are the current hot trends you are seeing in video?

I think the timeliest trend I'm seeing right now is the power of the creator community. Coming out of VidCon, the number of true celebrities emerging from YouTube, as just one example, is mind blowing. That's a power that big media companies are attracted to. They're looking to that world as where the next waves of content creators are emerging. The growth of companies like Maker, Fullscreen, Machinima, and others, from small start-ups to large, established players, demonstrates what an established market this has become in a relatively short amount of time.

What do you think are the biggest challenges that content creators face in creating engaging content?

Historically, there were two major challenges that content creators faced in creating engaging content and attracting advertising dollars.

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The first was a lack of "broadcast quality" content. A few years ago, to make your content appear to be "broadcast quality" was a big challenge.  While DIY video is authentic and appealing to consumers, brands want to appear in safe environments, and at the time it was challenging to prove to brands why appearing in this type of content was as valuable as appear in professionally shot content, which has that extra layer of shine to it.

The second challenge a content creator faced was a lack of overall brand awareness.

Attracting brand dollars was challenging when content creators lacked the name-brand awareness or cache of traditional media celebrities. These creators may have large fan bases digitally, but lack of recognition among the advertising community made it more difficult for them to easily attract significant brand dollars. 

Today, however, I think those obstacles are starting to come down. Thanks to industry events like VidCon, advertisers are making the trek to attend, see, and hear about this new wave of content creators, and industry trades like Ad Age and Adweek are covering creators more and more each day.

Our research showed that women are seeking out videos that are authentic, concise, and positive in tone. From your perspective, how important is authenticity?

I think authenticity is very important. It's probably more important to consumers than to brands, and there is sometimes a delicate balance between content that is highly authentic and content that is brand friendly. Content that feels too professionally shot can sometimes come across as inauthentic, while content shot in a bedroom by a creator who obviously doesn't have a camera team or a production crew can feel very relatable. However, while that content is authentic, it may not be suitable for brands, who want to ensure that they are appearing in content where the environment is brand friendly.

How does the rise of multiplatform content consumption change the way you think about aligning brands with video content?

The way we look at content is that right now all content exists in the metaphorical cloud, and consumers are accessing it whenever and however they want. The technology and the infrastructure are both improving so much, and consumers now have the ability to pull up content on their big-screen TV or their mobile device when they want, often at the same time. Therefore, I think it's more important to think about the context of the consumption experience. Is this being watched while the device is on the kitchen counter during meal preparation? Or if it's a makeup how-to video, it's important to imagine that this is being watched on the dresser in front of a mirror. It's crucial to create content with those nuances in mind so that you understand how the consumer might be interacting with the video.

How do you personally keep up to date with the latest trends in video?

I honestly don't know how I do it. If you look at my browser and look at the number of tabs that are open and the number of bookmarks that I've condensed into small icons, I'm just voraciously going through them all day, whenever I possibly can. I have built some custom lists on Twitter, and I am pretty trusting of places like TechCrunch for tech news and Adweek and Ad Age for advertising news. I tend to go deep into the Reddit community to see what is developing there because I often see trends emerging there before I see it on more traditional media. I definitely depend on curators to help highlight what's important and what I need to focus on each day.

What do you consider to be the next big trend in video?

I really do think that the big screen in the living room is the one that content creators still need to conquer. I think there's going to be some huge changes in the coming year, but it might take a little bit longer for that evolution to occur than what we've experienced in terms of web video.

Also, I think the organization of content and how it's presented to you on the big screen in your living room is important, especially when you consider what it's going to take for large amounts of ad spending to transition to video. As soon as those challenges are cracked, and I think slowly but surely we are chipping away at the right way to present that content, we will see dramatic shifts. Companies like Google with Chromecast and LG with their new Web OS smart TVs are starting to figure this out. The mission is to make the content that you were consuming on your mobile phone or laptop easily discoverable once you sit in front of your big-screen TV.

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