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UTA Study: $18 Billion Opportunity Awaits Brands That Embrace The Creator Economy

UTA Study: $18 Billion Opportunity Awaits Brands That Embrace The Creator Economy

10/21/2021 7:35:00 AM

UTA Study: $18 Billion Opportunity Awaits Brands That Embrace The Creator Economy

With 40 percent of US consumers ages 13-54 directly paying creators for interaction through fan clubs and platform, a new study from talent, entertainment and sports agency UTA projects an $18 billion bounty awaits marketers that partner with talent in the rapidly growing direct...

The concept—which is not only generating new business avenues for brands but for talent agencies working alongside a brand’s media agency—is to create authentic relationships between Madison Avenue and Hollywood. It’s about changing the way both brands and talent approach what not all that long ago was simply a transactional endorsement business. As the advertising ecosystem evolves to include esports, gaming, and different types of television and digital ad loads, the creator economy is evolving as well.

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“The old way was, the agency would write a script and hand it to the talent and say, ‘This is what we’re doing today.’ And for the most part, people accepted that,” Anderson says.But in today’s hyper-connected world, consumers are more discerning. And they can often go straight to their music artist, entertainer, athlete or other talent of choice for information and inspiration. It’s those direct fan conduits that are at the heart of UTA’s study.

“In some ways all social media is part of the creator economy, but there’s an intermediary that owns the audience,” says Joe Kessler, global head of UTA IQ. The study looked at direct-access platforms including Patreon and Cameo, as well as “fan clubs, exclusive content, exclusive access, early ticket opportunities, meet and greets, SMS texting, all those things where the audience has bought into the relationship and the celebrity has the opportunity to connect one on one,” Kessler says.

Based on its findings, the opportunity for brands to get in on the action is huge—but there’s a caveat. “It’s important for brands to understand that the authenticity comes from the authenticity of the artist communicating with that consumer, so they would do well to facilitate that communication but not disrupt it too much,” Kessler says. “That’s the holy grail, and the reason why people will pay $25 a month or more to subscribe to these services.”

And in the age of cancel culture, “there’s plenty of cases of talent pushing back, not wanting to work with certain brands,” Anderson says. “There is much more thoughtfulness about what people want to associate with, and I think that’s a good thing.” 

UTA leans heavily on data to help identify talent-brand alignments. Without breeching privacy laws, “we can get pretty deep into understanding how an audience thinks, what their preferences are, and we can match that with the brands and know there is alignment there,” Kessler says. “And we can usually get to the point where we can identify demand in certain sectors as opposed to others.”

The rest of the equation, UTA believes, is the art only a talent agency steeped in the creator ecosystem can bring. “Part of it is being able to master this nuanced ecosystem of entertainment,” Kessler says. “No [media] agency can do that directly the way a talent agency can.”

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