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Creators are focusing on the wrong metrics. Here is why:

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Photo of Sam Griffin
by Sam Griffin

For most creators, there is a demand for greater remuneration for their efforts. However, one key consideration is missing from this equation – platforms are also for-profit revenue generators. The growing demand by creators for greater remuneration is something of an uphill battle and as creators have been searching for multiple revenue streams, there has been a migration of content across platforms as a form of security and discoverability. However, as platforms compete for attention, those with the best value exchange proposition for users – that is creators and consumers – will inevitably come out on top.

On January 25th, 2023, Twitch’s CPO and CMO stated plans for the future of the platform and its users as it enters a period of retention focus. While other video platforms look to generate monetary value for creators, Twitch’s focus is more on the long-term. It is looking to provide better on-platform discovery, develop the skills of its creator community, and provide more rewards for high consumer engagement. While adding more perceived value for creators was the centrepiece of the strategic chess game for Twitch in the past, a decline across all user metrics calls for a fully-fledged commitment to genuine value generation.

For platforms to give up revenues to their creators draws a fine line in the sand. Twitch has loosened its payment criteria by standardising the creator split of revenues to 55% and lowering the pay-out threshold to $50. The lower threshold saw over 300,000 streamers earn their first dollars on Twitch and will draw more creators into committing to receiving their next pay cheque from the platform in the coming months. It also raises the question of whether Twitch and other platforms can afford to meaningfully improve creators’ monetisation terms.

From working hard to working smart

To generate revenues, creators need engagement and impressions from their content. Or so they are told by the social video platforms. To be clear, social video platforms decide what metrics they show to users (and what metrics users will to chase as a result). However, impressions, concurrent viewers, and subscribers alone are not necessarily the only all-commanding success metrics for creators. The most important success metric for creators should be dollars earned per hour streamed (or spent on production).

This is important as creator burnout plays an increasing role – creators are often left feeling fatigued as they invest countless hours into building their numbers. It is difficult for creators to make a fair like–for–like comparison as to which platform truly works best and for what. This is made even more so with different engagement classifications, partnership schemes, creator tiers, and payment features on each streaming service. Yes, creators need to get better at working smart, not just working hard. But, to do that, they also need a way to objectively benchmark their content across platforms.

While the short-term view for creators is to build audiences and monetize fast, the long-term plateau of productivity in the creator landscape will come from creators who do not have to quit from exhaustion after two years of doing it. If platforms like Twitch, YouTube, Facebook Gaming, TikTok, etc., are going into a retention era, the winners will be those that manage to keep creators the happiest and streaming most consistently. Helping them find the right work-life balance, along with general transparency and active help from platforms to drive dollars per hour of work rather than ‘number of viewers’, is going to go a long way with creators in the coming years.

With creator content saturating platforms, and creators risking fatigue, a change in dynamics will take place. Multi-platform posting will remain important for creator growth, but we will see creators stepping back to prioritise the platforms with the best ROI in the long-term.

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Darnell “ID” Bradwell
I wholeheartedly agree with this. In fact, I would go so far as to draw a through line between creators needing foundational support and capital access, as consumers need goods and services with financial literacy embedded in digestible formats. An overall soundtrack of humanitarian projects distributed amongst various international cultural and economic groups, driven by the contributions of those highest voted by the community of each participant, serves as a unique KPI of explaining the connection between culture and innovation. -DLB