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Shaping the future of finance

Lessons banks can learn from YouTube (and others)

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I need a little time to think about my reimagined financial structure, but some of the basics are already in play such as the idea of thinking about value exchange rather than monetary exchange.  Value exchange is based upon the ability to reach the world with a thought.  I do that every day via social media, and monetize that ability by advising and talking and writing non-stop about the future bank.  Others, such as PewDiePie do that by creating video content.  In fact, vlogging is a major area of value exchange that has morphed an industry in just a decade.

Just like cars yesterday, but more importantly an illustration of how the monetization of ideas has changed the world.  That is what vlogging and other individualised content has achieved.  There are lots of vloggers out there who many of us may never have heard of.  I’ve mentioned PewDiePie (43 million subscribers and $20,000 a day from advertising), but a few others include The SloMo Guys;  Zoella ; sisters Sam and Nic Chapman of Pixiwoo ; The Lean Machines ; AJ Odudu ; Chewing SandBooks and Quills ; Tanya Burr ; and many more.  Most of these folks are genuine honest youngsters, making entertaining and endearing content from their bedrooms and streets that talk about things other genuine and honest youngsters care about (life, relationships, exercise, school, etc).

It’s a whole world where content creatives are media channels that are far more powerful than the BBC and CBS for their target audience groups.  In fact, picking on the most powerful media company in the world that creates no content, YouTube, we can see that this has changed the world.

How much?  Let’s have a look at a few stats on the new media service:

  • In 2014, television viewing in the USA amongst 18- to 49- year olds dropped by nearly 10%, while time spent on YouTube rose by a whopping 44%
  • Time spent watching YouTube in sitting rooms more than doubled in 2015
  • A Variety survey revealed 8 out of 10 most popular celebrities in the USA are YouTube-based creators
  • In March 2016, seven female YouTube creators were announced as UN ambassadors for gender equality; they’re all under 35 and come from six different countries
  • The Young Turks, a YouTube news channel run by Cenk Uygur, has an average viewing age of under 35; CNN’s average viewer is 62 years old and Fox News is 68

The key thing is that, like Facebook and Amazon, YouTube focuses on making their platform – or marketplace if you prefer – a better and more engaging user experience.  That focus is their non-stop objective and passion.  In an interview with The Times, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki (worth $300m and one place above Michelle Obama in the Forbes Top 10 list of Power Women) says that “the younger generation use [YouTube] as their primary entertainment platform, so they spend a long time on YouTube.  But what we see with older audiences is that they look up specifics like How do I fix something? The question is how do we educate them about all the material we have?”

So do you have a strategy as to how to focus upon that audience?

“We don’t really”, Wojcicki admits.  “We don’t focus as much on specific audiences as how do we make the platform overall better?  How do we show five other videos that might be interesting for you?  How do we do that for everyone?  Over-sixties and the 14-year old too.”

There are some key lessons banks could learn from YouTube and similar internet giants as they try to build their digital platforms and marketplaces.  Focus obsessively on how to make the platform better, rather than the demographic you are trying to serve is one of them.

Meanwhile, I loved the opening lines of The Times report as it made me smile and frown at the same time:

Meeting rooms at YouTube HQ in San Bruno, California — south of San Francisco, at the start of Silicon Valley — have names like My Little Pony, Inspector Gadget and Mr T. The first thing you see is a table-football game next to a vending machine filled with complimentary sweets. It’s a university campus where work actually gets done, and, as staff sit in the sun eating free burgers, casually running the world, there are no ties or suits in sight; zero grey hair.

Think about it.

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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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