Empowering the creators

There are lots of amazing creators in Japan, and many of them are in the UGC (User Generated Content) world anonymously, and unpaid.

On the other hand there are lots of efforts taking place here how to payback or empower the creators in some way. Making the creators happy will eventually make everybody else happy too as they will be creating even more contents if they get motivated.

There are discussions about what makes the creators motivated - Is it money(per content)? Is it reputation? Is is simply applause? Is it promotion? Is it getting them a job? -


Many companies/services have tried to compensate by money or points that can be converted to money or giftcard etc. Recent efforts by pixiv is one of them.

pixiv [ja] is the biggest illustration sharing site in Japan, with 600million PV per month.

On 4/1, they started a "premium" service to charge 525yen(5USD)/month, and a point service "pixiv point". Users can give those points to their favorite illustrator as a present. (This is called "goodP"). If you are a "pixiv premium" member, you get 2,000 points per month which can only be used for goodP as of today(4/18,2009).

Pixiv allowed to convert it to Amazon gift card when they started this service on 4/1, but decided to abolish this function in 10 days. They have not publicized the reason for this, but it is said that allowing this monetary conversion increased creators trying to get "easy money" by publishing pictures of copyrighted materials. Pixiv is planning to make future enhancements so that the users will be able to use the points for their new functions and paid services, or exchange it with pixiv original goodies that they plan to sell in the future).


NicoNicoDouga [ja] is the largest video sharing site in Japan. (I wrote a long post about NicoNicoDouga on my NicoNicoDouga Blog and a list of videos so I'll avoid going into details here.)

NicoNicoDouga takes a different approach from pixiv. They will NOT compensate to the users with money or points, instead they started a service called NicoNi-Koukoku [ja] Koukoku means Advertisements.

NicoNicoDouga already had their premium service, and NicoNi-Koukoku is a service that allows the premium users to help promote their favorite video within NicoNicoDouga. Creators of the video will probably get more viewership by getting this ad, but they will never be able to receive monetary compensation even if they have a big viewership.

Quote from IT Media's interview with Hiroyuki [ja] , board of Niwango:
"People who pays for Niconi-Koukoku likes the work created by the creator, but all the money goes to NicoNicoDouga not to the creator. I agree to some point that it is like NicoNicoDouga is taking the money away. However, if the creators get the money directly, they will start creating videos that have higher possibility of getting money and that will not motivate them to create good works."

He continiues.
"Creating a high quality video takes a lot of time and effort. Getting several hundred -thousand yen (several dollars-less than 100 dollars) will not recoup that cost, so even if we paid the NicoNi-koukoku points to the creators, it might not be a motivation. We want to think of a better way to motivate the creators."

This is how NicoNi-Koukoku looks:
On the tag page, videos that attracted some ads will be highlighted in blue (upper left), videos that attracted more ads will be highlighted in yellow (upper right) so that it will attract more attention compared to videos that have not attracted any ad (bottom).


Loftwork [ja] is a company that matches creators and companies.

In the past when large companies wanted a creative, standard way of doing that was to go to agencies and ask them to come up with a list of creators and they get to pick. Unless the creators are known to the agencies, it was difficult for them to get into the creative work of Japanese large companies. However, good creators are good at creating, but they are generally not very good at selling themselves. It was hard for young and good creators to get jobs. Loftwork is a company that matches companies that wants to work with those young, unique and creative creators. They currently have 11,743 creators registered as of 4/18, 2009. Categories of the artists ranges as follows: Illustration, Web&Flash, Graphic Design, Editing&Writing, Photograph, Movie, Music, Fine Arts, Architecture, Planning&Direction, Programing.

Here are some examples of their artworks:


CC-BY-NC-ND BY ガタヤマ堂

CC-BY-NC-ND BY ウサギグラフィック

CC-BY-NC-ND BY みつきひな


They have a bunch of job offers [ja] on their sites for the creators (especially because of the current economic recession, it makes sense for client companies to go through Loftwork than paying a lot of margins to the agencies). Clients can either post their job offer like the link above, or they can check out Loftwork's website and select the creator they like from the public portfolio of the creators. Because Loftwork has more than 10,000 creators, they can create lots of designs quickly- for example they made 3,600 different designs for cellphone decoration mails (decomail) for USEN/Livedoor. Their clients include KDDI/au, MySpace, mixi, NEC, etc.


C-team [ja] is a service that allows creators to register themselves to get involved in creating ad banners and ad creatives. They call it "crowd-sourced ads". C-team is operated by Recruit. Currently they have 8,024 registered creators as of 4/18, 2009.

When traditional creative agencies created banners, this was the process: 1)The director of the website will tell the image of the banner they want to the agency 2)Designers of the agency creates several samples 3)Director of the website selects one banner that makes it to the website. All the decisions of which banner makes it into the website depended on the director's preference.

The way C-team works is that the members of C-team creates lots of banner ads a the beginning (like 200 banners), gets the screening, and all the banners that made it through the screening will be displayed on the website. C-team uses a special optimization technology to increase the number of times banners with good click rates get displayed. (And they say it's not just about click rates but other tweeks such as rotating the ads etc) According to a blog post by Kensu [ja], CEO of Rocketstart [ja] and is involved in the development of C-team website, they say the ad efficiency increased 150-500%, average 200% up compared to the traditional way.

If you pass the screening and get into the banners that gets displayed on the website, you will gain 500 points (equivalent to 500 yen or 5 USD). Then you get additional points for being ranked in the CTR(Click Through Rate) ranking: #1 gets 50,000pts, #2 gets 20,000pts and #3-#5 gets 10,000pts which can be converted to cash, e-cash and various other point services.

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