Delivering valuable and authentic celebrity experiences: a new media consumption model.
It is no secret that consumer spending trends are constantly evolving, driven by a newer generations entering their earning prime and the modern Internet. Much has been written about the “experience economy” since the term was first coined in 1998. Gen Y (Millennials) & Gen Z are known to not only highly value experiences, but they are increasingly spending time and money on them. When it comes to celebrity culture and spending—there is no better example of this trend in action than the celebrity shout-out.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a shout-out as “a public expression of greeting, praise, or acknowledgement directed toward a person or group often as part of a performance, recording, or broadcast”. What is important to note is that the concept of a ‘shout-out’ (which has its origins in hip-hop DJ culture from the late 1970s and 1980s), was born in the era of broadcast media when it was delivered over the radio or during a live performance. For the lucky few who had access, this was a phenomenal experience to hear a celebrity speaking their name in the broadcast media. Still, this access and recognition was available to a select few, and hard to secure.
While the Internet has been unstoppable in transforming media consumption from the traditional broadcast model to a more consumer friendly on-demand, on any device model—the problem remained that getting access to your heroes remained hard. In fact, you could go as far as to say that the celebrity and fan engagement has always been a parasocial—defined as one-sided relationships, where one person extends emotional energy, interest, and time, and the other party, the persona, is completely unaware of the other’s existence.
Sure, you can follow a celebrity on Instagram or subscribe to their YouTube channel, but it is still the broadcast model of delivery and consumption. As a consumer, save for the ability to comment, like and share, you remained a passive audience consuming content created for the masses. If you wanted a personalised interaction, you had to know someone or wait at the backstage door in the hope of a chance meeting. Good luck meeting that K-Pop band or Bollywood star though, these interactions are closely guarded.
Enter the personalised celebrity video shout-out. The ability to book a short, personalised video message, made on demand for a fee. Want to get a comedian to wish your best friend in another city congrats on getting married? Can’t be at your 5 year old niece’s birthday? Get a Disney Princess impersonator to send her a message to make her day. Or just want to ask your favourite musician a burning question about a song lyric you love? Now you can. These are all possible via celebrity video marketplaces like ACE. Perhaps most relevant of all is that these videos feed into a most basic human behaviour—social signaling. These personalised videos are shared among friends or more widely on social media, feeding into the primal desire of signaling or status seeking.
So the driving forces of consumer demand for celebrity shout-outs are clear. But what of the motivation of the celebrities to be on these platforms? Clearly there is monetary benefit (they are paid to deliver these videos after all), and although a video may only take a few minutes to create, the equivalent hourly rates can be relatively lucrative (all without leaving their living room). It is also clear that from the rise of platforms like Patreon and Gumroad, the modern Internet has become very adept at providing creators with a self-sustaining way of earning, free of agents, publishers, broadcasters, and movie studios.
Since many in the entertainment related industries are essentially gig economy workers, a vertical marketplace allowing them to monetise their fame is a perfectly timed solution for the independent contractor. But the motivations run deeper than purely monetary—these platforms provide a way to engage and stay relevant with fans, or are used as ways to donate towards a charity of their choice. Social signaling for the other side of this relationship you might say.
On the surface of it, the celebrity shout-out video may seem a frivolous concept. But dig deeper, and this very modern Internet phenomenon is the perfect intersection between age old social dynamics and the most powerful consumer Internet trends. Marketplaces like ACE are meeting the desire for celebrity engagement via a personalised experience, available on demand in a direct-to-consumer purchase model, and delivered in bite-size video content that can be used to impress your social circle. This combination of consumer behavior and Internet commerce is driving a compelling new type of media consumption model. Novelty in every sense of the word.
Dene Schonknecht is the Founder & CEO of ACE Entertainment which has created South East Asia’s largest celebrity video marketplace (www.ace.video). He is based in Singapore and has a 25 year career background in E-commerce and Entertainment.
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