VidCon 2023: Three Things We're Taking Away

Aaron Millberg
July 10, 2023
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Hey, it’s Aaron, Claire, and James (from Canal’s talent commerce team)!

We just got back from Anaheim, where we spent the week at VidCon 2023, the largest gathering for creators worldwide! It was such a blast.

This year, we ran a booth this year and hosted a featured workshop on the creator track. The response couldn’t have been better—we met hundreds of creators on the conference floor, had ~200 attendees at our session, and spoke with so many talented creators. But most of all, we learned a ton.

Here are 3 things we learned in Anaheim:

Takeaway #1: Creators want to do more than merch.

Don’t get us wrong, we love good merch! And we saw all kinds of products being sold at Vidcon… the Canal booth was right next to the official merch stand.

But the attendees we talked to also recognized that commerce can go beyond simple t-shirts and bucket hats. We heard creators tell us about selling lab-grade coffee mugs, LGBTQ+ vacation packages, and literally everything in between.

VidCon also reaffirmed something we’ve noticed from our founding: there are more creators than ever, more content, and, as a result—more ways to sell. Instead of leaning on what’s already be done, the creators we met were creating new products, storefronts and even new categories to sell.

It was so inspiring to see that and it only strengthened our commitment at Canal to help creators realize whatever commerce goals they have.

Takeaway #2: We need to meet creators where they’re at.

Trust us… our booth was right at the front of the convention center, so we really did meet creators where they were 😄.

But jokes aside, what’s so exciting about VidCon is that you get to see the creator community in its breadth and totality—from 10-year-old YouTubers making Let’s Play videos to retired teachers producing science content.

Whether they’re just at the start of their journey or have already amassed millions of the followers, each creator is unique. Spending 10+ hours a day (for 4 days straight) at the convention floor, you actually see that for what it is.

And it’s sad how many companies we saw (even at VidCon) lump the idea of a “creator” into one neat persona. The creators we talked to there came from every background imaginable, had different audience sizes, and thought of success in entirely disparate ways. So when creator tools advertise themselves to be “one size fits all”, we’re naturally skeptical.

Our time at VidCon has only strengthened our ethos of offering more curated, bespoke, and personal approach to building product. From our white-glove approach to implementation, customer success and curation, we’re determined to continue putting creators first.

Takeaway #3: Commerce should build brand, not dilute it.

We heard a ton of feedback through the hours we spent at the booth. And one of common themes that arose was how protective creators were of their brand—and their concern that selling product would diminish it.

We totally get that. It takes years for many creators to develop a sizable following and it’s not easy to maintain it. But at the same time, these creators also told us about their desire to generate more consistent income, especially when the standard for monetization is opaque sponsorships and low-yield affiliate deals.

We couldn’t be more excited about the future of creator commerce though. When we walked through the Canal platform at our creator track session, we had 25+ mins of Q&A (we demo’d a start to finish store build in just 15 mins 😯), with creators asking us all kinds of questions about selling with Canal.

It was surreal because you could actually see the light bulbs going off in the room. Suddenly, the obstacles of building a storefront—whether it be sourcing inventory, product fulfillment or payment processing—weren’t so insurmountable anymore.

And we can’t wait to see what these creators end up building.

We know a lot of you weren’t able to make it to Anaheim this year and we missed you. But we’d still love to connect! Please reach out to learn more and schedule time to chat.

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Aaron Millberg
Talent Commerce Lead
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