Influencer marketing is no longer in its infancy. The once quaint practice of brands trading on the actionable audiences of social media stars is now a fully-fledged multi-billion dollar industry. Individuals with influence are regularly commanding, five, six, and seven figure-fees to help popularize products in across way more consumer product verticals than you’d think.
Tubefilter posts articles about influencer marketing all the time. But they’re almost always written from the vantage point of a well-informed outsider. Rarely do we get any perspective and insight from the influencers themselves. With that in mind, I spoke to Jerome Aceti.
Aceti is known to his aggregate seven million subscribers across three YouTube channels as JeromeASF. The 23-year-old New Jersey native currently averages more than 27 million YouTube views per month. The majority of those views come from Aceti’s flagship gaming channel, but in recent years his professional efforts have expanded to include voiceover work for animated series (The Barca Chronicles, Happy Wheels), hosting and commenting at a variety of events, and a healthy regularly-scheduled vlog channel.
Aceti is also no stranger to influencer marketing. As someone who’s been on YouTube since 2011 and made quite a name for himself on the site, he’s seen his fair share of brand deals. So, I talked to him about his experience, from his early days as a creator to a little bit of the idiosyncrasies of how these deals get done.
Tubefilter: When did you start positing videos on YouTube?
Jerome Aceti: I started posting YouTube videos to my first channel a little over 9 years ago. They were skits and funny vlogs of my friends and I. A couple years later, I transitioned into mostly making gaming related content.
TF: When did you do your first branded video?
JA: I’m not 100% positive of the first branded video I made, but if I had to guess it would be April of 2013.
TF: Since that point, how many brand deals have you done?
JA: Since my first brand deal I have done plenty more, probably an estimated 75 to 100 separate campaigns.
TF: How do you typically get deals?
JA: Typically my brand deals have been sourced mainly through my email, with my MCN (Machinima) coming in a close second, and third parties making up a small portion of total number. If I had to estimate and break them down by percent I would say 70% come from direct emails, 20% come from my MCN, and 10% come from third parties.
TF: Of all the branded content you’ve done, what campaign was the best in engaging your audience while also fulfilling the requirements of the deal? What hit the perfect balance?
JA: One of my favorite campaigns was with Blue Apron for a comedic “how to” style cooking video using their product. It meshed well with my normally scheduled content and was done in a way that had the audience asking for more videos like it.
TF: Was their anything unique about that campaign that allowed you to hit a perfect balance?
JA: The largest aspect of that campaign that contributed to its success was the level of creative freedom provided to me. A very important aspect to branded content is having it integrate seamlessly into originally scheduled content, and in order to do that brands need to provide a certain level of creative freedom to the content creator.
TF: The NewFronts often get criticized because many of the specific ideas companies pitch to brands and agencies never get sold. But your animated series, The Bacca Chronicles, was one of two projects presented at Machinima’s 2015 NewFront that sold. In fact, you presented the trailer yourself. What was that experience like?
JA: Being able to present my animated web series was an amazing opportunity. I was extremely proud to see my vision come to life and have people take interest in that!
TF: What is the most common aspect of a brand deal you push back against?
JA: The most common aspect of a brand deal that I push back against is the required talking points in a video. It is nearly impossible to integrate a long list of talking points into a video without having it come across as bothersome to the viewer. There are better ways to get the company’s message across about their product while still allowing the viewer to enjoy the video.
TF: Can you mention an example of something a brand pushed for that actually hurt the performance of the campaign?
JA: Without going into detail of the brand or product, I had one instance of a brand that had me do two minutes of talking points at the beginning of a branded video. The problem with this is that by the end of it a large portion of viewers had tapered off and clicked away from the video.
CL: What is the opportunity most brands leave on the table? What are they missing when working with creators?
JA: The largest opportunity that brands are missing with content creators is long term established partnerships. Viewers are more receptive to products they know that the content creators trusts and has established a relationship with. Instead of buying branded space on the promotional platform on a one off basis, it would be wise to create a relationship with the content creator and find a way to integrate the product into a string of posts over a period of time.
TF: When working with you or other talent, what’s your one piece of advice for brands?
JA: My one piece of advice for brands would be to trust the content creator and give them more creative freedom. Everyone wants the branded content and advertising to do well, including the creator. If a brand can be placed into a post in a way that doesn’t bother the viewer and allows the creator to make their normal style of content, the results should be great for the brand.
After overseeing the talent and talent integration departments at Machinima, Chris Landa most recently served as the Sr. Director of Content & Partnerships at YouNow, where he worked with top talent and brands to maximize their presence on the platform. With a wide range of expertise around brand integrations and original content featuring creators, Chris currently advises brands and emerging platforms on how best to work with creators.