Each year for the past 3 years, Activate has taken a deep dive into technology innovations, major consumer trends & industry dynamics as part of the Wall Street Journal D.Live Conference. The management consulting firm identified 9 important insights that it predicts will shape/reshape the media industry in the year to come.

I have read all 140 slides in Activate’s deck on SlideShare & found that one of their surprising & unexpected insights is something that video marketers will need to know, analyze, and act on – “Big Influencers & Media Brands will Rule Web Video.” Let’s take a closer look at this way trend in the digital video marketing business.

Media Publishers and Influencers Generate Most Views Across Social Video

According to Activate, consumers will dramatically grow their overall time spent watching digital video from 2017 – 2021. That gentle breeze is not going to knock any leaves out of the trees. However, here is what will:

Activate’s analysis of Tubular’s data confirms that influencers & media companies make up 97% of YouTube views in the group of top video creators with more than 50 million views. 98% of FB views come from influencers & media companies. Brands only make up 3% of the views on the platforms. Influencers are defined as personalities, celebrities/public figures with significant social presence. Media companies are defined as an association whose primary business model is in production and distribution of content. It includes some professional influencer entities that have changed upstream.

How Brands Could Find the Right Content Partners to Work With

And here is something that brands will want to know, analyze, and act on: Tubular Labs data shows that there’s a greater ratio of influencers to media companies on YouTube and a roughly even ratio on FB (52% influencers to 48% media companies). If brands are looking for the right content partner to reach the right customer, and get more engagement for less to spend, they need to look into different categories on different platforms.

Activate analyzed the top 5 YouTube influencers by subscribers in 4 categories: How-to & Style (Yuya), People & Blogs (Roman Atwood), Comedy & Entertainment (HolaSoyGerman), and Gaming (elrubiusOMG) as of October 2017. The management consulting firm concluded: “Top web video influencers range across content areas & platforms.” Which might be an obvious statement, but a vital one if you’re brand looking to work with the right influencer to get the right target audience. Combined, the influencers have over 70 billion views on YouTube.

Activate analyzed Tubular data for the top U.S. media company creators on YouTube & found 49% are in the Entertainment category (Ellen), 22% are in Music & Dance (Justin Bieber), and 9% are in News & Politics (The Young Turks). Oh, and these media company creators include Smosh, which used to be known as an influencer but has worked on films produced by Lionsgate & Columbia Pictures, so they have been “moved upstream.” So, kudos to Andrew Hecox & Anthony Padilla, who began to post videos on YouTube in 2005.

Activate analyzed Tubular data for the top U.S. media company creators on Facebook & found 61% are in the Entertainment category (Bright Side), and 10% are in News & Politics (NowThis). So, even if a couple of the categories are the same, there’re different leaders on different platforms.

Activate says, “Influencers who start on a platform don’t typically transfer success to another.” So, as I have observed back in 2015, the social video market is segmented, not fragmented. The analogy that I used was: “The European market is not fragmented; it is segmented. Not only does every country have its own language, everyone also has its own culture & customs as well as its own folk heroes. And only because 320 million Europeans in 24 countries use the euro does not mean that I would market a product in France, Germany, Italy & Spain with the same online video that I had created for an audience of 64 million people in the U.K.” And I wrote that before Brexit.

So, long-time readers of Tubular Insights won’t be shocked to read Activate’s observation: “Web video platforms satisfy different content preferences media companies will need to play to every platform’s strengths.” And their analysis extends beyond YouTube, FB, and Twitch; it includes Instagram & Snapchat, too.

Nevertheless, Activate notes: “To attract these creators & capture user attention, web video platforms are attempting to move into each others’ turfs.” So, watch initiatives such as YouTube Red, YouTube Live, YouTube TV, Facebook Live, and Facebook Watch like a hawk. That video segmentation matrix is shifting even as we speak.

Social Video & the Shift to Live-streaming

Activate also analyzed Tubular data & concludes: “The platforms are shifting into live streaming — this medium has exhibited rapid growth in views & time spent.” It includes a chart that may surprise some video marketers. It explains Twitch, a subsidiary of, as the leader in this category, followed by YouTube Live (with 318,000), FB Live (with 61,000), and Periscope (with 23,000). This could stop “the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence.”

Activate predicts” “Live-streaming creators will use crowdfunding platforms, like Patreon, to monetize directly through fans.” It is something that the VlogBrothers, aka the Green brothers, John Green & Hank Green, have been saying since YouTube’s Brandcast event in 2015. So, it is significant that Activate has come to a similar summary independently.