You have probably heard of Vessel by now. The video platform has only barely been launched and is giving senior YouTube a run for its influencer content. So far, they’ve spent a lot of time recruiting these influencers to their platform and that work shows in the content already available on the site.
Founded by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar and CTO Richard Tom, Vessel has already cemented themselves as a player in the video space with a recent infusion of $57 million to “reinvent it.” On top of that, they’re keynoting VidCon.
With barely a month under its belt and brands already in the mix, it’s become crucial for marketers to know what the platform is all about and what the content is like. Most importantly, what exactly is the appeal to YouTube’s biggest influencers We asked these and another questions of ION‘s team (Ayzenberg‘s influencer agency within an agency).
Is Vessel really becoming a major player in the video space? What differentiates them from YouTube?
Alexa Dobrowski, Talent Coordinator, ION: Of course the main difference between Vessel and YouTube is the fact that viewers pay a $2.99 monthly subscription fee to access the site and, in return, have early access to supposedly higher quality content from their favorite influencers, but another key difference is the difference in the way creators are compensated. On YouTube, top tier creators is earn $2-$3 per thousand views. With Vessel, that same video will bring the creator about $50 per thousand views. Also, where YouTube splits ad revenue on a 55/45 YouTube/creator split, Vessel proposes that they will offer around 70 percent to content creators and only take 30 percent for themselves.
This alone will make a big difference in terms of Vessel becoming a big player in the video space, since it provides a strong incentive for the big content creators to sign up for the site, thus in turn making it more attractive for those creators’ fans to sign up for as well. It has a general vibe of exclusivity and quality, which will definitely appeal to creators’ superfans or those who passionate about short form video in general. I don’t think Vessel poses a serious threat to YouTube at this time, but I do think it has the aspects it needs to be a major player in the video space.
Ryan Sterner, Talent Coordinator, ION: Google Preferred is YouTube’s way of getting more advertising dollars by creating “listings” of the top 5 percent of YouTubers in their defined category and offering up their ad space to marketers. In return, influencers who participate—still unsure if this is an invitation thing or a “hey, we’re selling your channel for big time bucks”—garner a higher CPM than non-Google preferred participants.
This clearly has nothing to do with rocking Vessel’s boat, but more that the conversation of paying top tier creators more money has been going on for a while. And not just by the people who run the video platforms, but by the creators themselves. Grumblings from both the advertisers and creators on the Youtube model could make the adoption of Vessel a pretty easy choice.
Content-wise, what does Vessel focusing on featuring? What was your first impression of the platform?
Alexa Dobrowski: My first impression of the platform was that it seemed really elegant, well designed, and high quality – it definitely seemed like a step up from YouTube in both quality and aesthetics. The videos were very sharp and well composed, and it seemed like Vessel provided videos from all categories YouTube does but curated the videos within them so it only highlights the best.
Steven Lai, Talent Director, ION: Content has run the gamut. Everything from exclusive Ellen clips, NBA highlights, to tech, gaming, comedy vlogs. Not specifically featuring anything besides quality content. First impression is that the design takes a slight learning curve and search functionality could be improved, but a clean UI.
Ryan Sterner: The ad integration is more native, more seamless. Almost more in-your-face, but much more subtle. They do have pre-roll, but they limit it to 5 seconds.
Are you seeing any brand activity on this platform yet?
Alexa Dobrowski: There is brand activity so far; from what I’ve read the company has deals in place with Corona Extra, Chevy, Land Rover/Jaguar, and Unilever’s Axe, Dove, Suave and St Ives. Ads in general are more shorter, more visually striking, and more integrated – so far it seems the two options are what the site’s creator calls the brands “motion posters” (aka ads that come up as users navigate through the site and that are pretty easy to bypass) and pre-roll ads like the ones found on YouTube (but on Vessel they generally don’t last for more than 5-6 seconds). The creator said Vessel had more of a “short but punchy” theme in mind with the type of ads they displayed, which he thought increased brand favorability/recall.
Steven Lai: Ad offerings so far have been much more integrated and interesting than YouTube. I haven’t seen any Vessel-specific brand integrations into content.
How could brands participate on Vessel in the future?
Ryan Sterner: Marketers have found a way to snake their way into most things that people gravitate towards, so I wouldn’t be surprised is in a few months if Vessel takes off we see a story highlighting out a brand utilized a Vessel creator in a very unique way.
What do you like about Vessel? Where is there room for improvement?
Steven Lai: Vessel’s overall design is better than YouTube but comment and community aspects could be improved. It does not seem as easy to get stuck in a video “black hole,” spiraling into related videos.
Ryan Sterner: It’s cleaner than YouTube in both aesthetic and content. I like the comparison of Vessel to HBO—it has that premium feel to it. Knowing that the content within is carefully curated, well produced, and the creators are monetizing really well could make for some really great pieces in the future.
Alexa Dobrowski: One thing I liked about Vessel was related to something I dislike about YouTube – YouTube is so saturated with videos (and I don’t think its search algorithm is all that great) that it can be overwhelming and seemingly impossible to find interesting content unless you already know exactly who/what you’re looking for. Browsing Vessel was a totally different experience and I found myself wanting to watch almost everything (including content categories I wouldn’t normally watch) because everything was so well done and visually interesting.
I think the main thing it needs to improve upon is variety and quantity, but since it’s new I’m sure that will continue to improve as time goes on.
Also, some negatives: there’s a lot of autoplay and high quality visual content to load in general, so it may be a frustrating experience to use for people with older computer systems or wifi signals that aren’t especially fast. I also think the initial process could be a turn off for people to check it out – before you can even see what it has to offer, you have to not only sign up but also go select at least three categories to follow and then from there scroll through a large list of current influencers and choose some as well. I think it might be a good idea for them to highlight their site a bit more and what it has to offer before requiring users to go through these processes.