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The height of fashion

By Olivier Delfosse 28-05-2015

With the explosion of new technologies over the past 10 years, innovations in the content ecosystem have been rapid, affecting digital media companies like StyleHaul as well as traditional media firms.

Two of the most significant technological developments over the past decade that may seem simple and obvious are interestingly linked to the advent of the ‘digital influencer.’ First, high-quality digital SLR cameras capable of shooting HD video are now more affordable than ever. When I graduated from college, the barrier to entry in becoming a filmmaker or content creator was high, and required a certain amount of insider access. We crunched our pennies to afford film stock, had little formal training, equipment was expensive and you could only do a few takes.

Fifteen years on, every single one of those barriers has been eliminated. Equipment is cheap, there is free training on YouTube, and a creator can shoot wherever and do a million takes if they want. In addition, we are seeing the age-old adage of production cost being an indicator of production quality become less relevant. Many of my former production and programming colleagues from FremantleMedia now work at companies like AOL or Twitter. Great content is coming from unexpected sources – a truly fascinating phenomenon.

As the market was flooded with more content, advances in both content-consumption hardware (smartphones) and content-consumption platforms (social networks) have emerged. Text-based social platforms like Twitter and image-based platforms like Instagram can quickly morph into video powerhouses by adding native video solutions. More than ever there is the demand for MCN businesses that can provide unique solutions for brands, facilitating a relationship with social influencers to create engaging, authentic content for all platforms.

The new breed of digital native content creator has a loyal audience across many platforms. Their voices are authentic and their audiences trust them. Millennials and members of Gen Z overwhelmingly trust influencer or peer recommendations more than traditional advertising methods, and that will continue to impact our business and others within this sphere, value proposition and close partnerships with brands for years to come.

As brands explore working with new advertising formats and content on new platforms, StyleHaul is evolving to service their needs. We examine the needs of the marketplace based on some key questions that are recurring in the ongoing dialogue we have with brands: is the 30-second pre-roll ad format going away? If so, what will it be replaced with? How many times have I looked at an Instagram photo and wanted to buy something featured in it? Am I more likely to do so if somebody I trust and follow recommends this to me? Can we create influencer-powered stories on Snapchat to raise awareness for a brand, while simultaneously delivering one-of-a-kind experiences for our content creators that will result in better content being produced? These are the questions we explore daily to refine and grow our business.

How advertisers work with MCNs and their content creators will also mature. Creators popular on YouTube will continue to gain popularity on other platforms, including those that are more traditional – books, television and movies. Or, their content may be relevant on a new platform to drive a new use case, like shopping. Regardless of the use, it’s clear the future of brand messaging in content will be even more tailored to the audience, giving them what they want in a subtle and elegant way.

To that end, traditional media companies have taken note of this fast-growing industry, and the resulting investments have created a host of dynamic next-gen companies like RTL Group and StyleHaul, Disney and Maker Studios and AT&T/Chernin Group and Fullscreen. In the coming years, I believe we will see more collaboration and investment, more native digital talent moving into traditional media and unique marketing and sponsorship opportunities that span a gamut of creators and platforms.

Which will be dominant in 10 years? The dominant company won’t be the one that has allowed either area to overtake the other, but has carefully assembled a next-gen global content creation and distribution company that has strong brands, a large targeted audience in many verticals, a solution for advertisers everywhere they want to associate with content, and a place for talent to produce at every price point.

today's correspondent

Olivier Delfosse Chief operations officer

Olivier Delfosse is chief operations officer at StyleHaul, the largest women’s lifestyle network on YouTube, with more than 5,000 creators and over one billion views per month. Prior to his appointment in February, he was senior VP of digital at FremantleMedia, owned by European broadcast giant RTL Group, which acquired a majority stake in StyleHaul in November last year.

During eight years at FremantleMedia he played a key role in strategic partnerships across all divisions including digital investments, the company’s YouTube business, plus relationships with Facebook, Twitter and all social platforms. He also oversaw interactivity for shows including American Idol, America’s Got Talent and The X Factor.