Is Online Video the Most Important Cultural Force Since the Motion Picture?

The world has gone mad over Millennials. In the pursuit to understand this misunderstood generation, the problem has expanded to GenY. Who are these people? What makes them tick? What will the future be like with them in charge? How do we employ these people?  How do we sell to this generation? And as a market researcher…how do we reach, engage and get feedback from this majorly sought-after demographic?

I have read a lot of articles, predications and assumptions about Millennials and GenYers. I have totally fallen into the trap of reading article after article trying to figure it out (whatever IT is). I have one of these GenYers living in my house and trust me, repeating over and over “you are so lucky” or “we didn’t have x,y,z growing up” or whatever annoying things I say, that I swore I would never say, do not help me understand any better.

My daughter begs me a lot. For all kinds of stuff. About 9 months ago, she started in on me about going to VidCon. VidCon? What. The. Heck. Is. VidCon.? After a little research (the old fashioned Google way) I discovered that VidCon is an annual event billed as the event “For People Who Love Online Video”.

Turns out that this year’s VidCon would be three solid days of a massive gathering of Millennials and GenYers who are creators, consumers and lovers of this massive cultural force of video content platforms. A cult-like gathering of more than 21K VidCon attendees, ended up making me the best Mom ever (for like 3 or 4 hours at a time) and was an amazing, inside look at the generation so many crave to understand.

I dragged SoapBox’s Marketing Director along and we entrenched ourselves in this underground culture for three whole days. It was overwhelming, exhausting, educational and massively impressive. Thankfully, we had our 9-year-old tour guide to constantly explain to us what they heck was going on, who the people were and why people were going insane. Every social media and content app you have ever heard of was there. Plus, a whole slew of ones we had never heard of.

At first we were confused why brands like Kia, HGTV, Adobe, Marriott and Canon (just to name a few) were there with insane immersive experience booths. No one was selling anything. They were either giving things away (not even asking you to sign up for anything) or offering a cool, interactive experience. Nickelodeon had a fun zone equivalent to a carnival inside the convention center. Within a few hours, Adriana and I realized we had struck gold. These companies were there to solidify their brand with these key demographic. I am pretty sure we were the only researchers there, and we were about to get a front seat at the stuff we didn’t even know we needed to research. Oh, and not one time were we asked for an email address or to “sign up” to receive an offer.

GenY is moving en masse from app to app, and many of us have never even heard of these platforms. There were three learning tracks and back-to-back sessions coupled with concerts, signings and VR experiences. You could run up the American Ninja Warrior warp wall or attend session after session run by a generation of people who are behind the online video/content consumption. We heard from an extremely insightful and humble business tycoon who basically became an overnight sensation on an app that barely existed a year ago. Oh, and by the way, she is 15, goes by the name of Baby Ariel and has amassed 10.3 million followers on an app called

As researchers working with leading brands, we need to immerse ourselves in this culture – not sit idly on the sides trying to learn from the periphery. It’s time to look at things through a new view. In our case, it was the view of a 9-year-old. I am super stoked to share some of our takeaways over the next couple weeks. We will share our experiences and some of the new tools we learned at VidCon. So stay tuned for a super cool, in depth view of this new cultural phenomenon…..

Also, this will be a multimedia experience.

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