Revealing the traffic business behind "Top Flow"

  "Following Jay Chou’s Compendium of Materia Medica at 7: 30 every night to have a shuttlecock exercise has become the closest daily choice under the epidemic situation." Xiao Xia, a lifestyle blogger, has been living in an apartment in Shanghai for 21 days, and "punching in videos and notes can barely replace external shooting to maintain account business".

  After Li Jiaqi, which has brought goods, the live broadcast industry has not seen a rocket-like "newcomer" for a long time. It took only two months for Liu Genghong to go from "former Taiwan Province coffee-pasting" to "fitness live broadcast superstar". On February 18th this year, Liu Genghong, who recently signed a contract with Worry-Free Media, launched his first live fitness broadcast on the Tik Tok platform. At that time, the number of viewers exceeded 240,000, and nearly 8,000 people rose. Today, the number of fans of Liu Genghong’s Tik Tok account has exceeded 31 million, and the number of fans has increased by nearly 10 million in seven days. The cumulative video broadcast volume has exceeded 230 million, and the popularity has exploded.

  The label of "Liu Genghong girl" was born, which greatly surpassed the "pig girl" in Li Jiaqi in that year. However, the entries related to Liu Genghong took turns to occupy the hot search, and the popularity may not reach the peak.

  Before that, who would have thought that the most eye-catching live broadcast data this year would be an out-of-date male star who "heard of it, but didn’t catch it much" — — Liu Genghong. It is not the first time that Liu Genghong and his wife lead fans to "cloud fitness" through live webcasting of aerobics. In fact, affected by the epidemic, online fitness has already entered the public eye. According to the Tik Tok Sports and Fitness Report, by the end of last year, there were more than 60,000 sports and fitness creators with over 10,000 fans, and the live broadcast revenue of fitness anchors increased by 141% last year.

  But why did Liu Genghong, who "tortured" fans to burn fat, become a new "top stream"? In addition to the image of positive energy and affinity, it is easy to get started and contains professional courses. Of course, it is also inseparable from the MCN organization behind it. After being accidentally injured by Tik Tok for three times, the team seized the opportunity to conduct marketing, which really made Liu Genghong completely out of the circle.The popularity of "Top Stream" is always the result of "personnel time".

  In addition, there is "peer foil".

  In fact, this should have been the most "scenic" period for a group of live broadcasts. Years of supply chain operation and consumer cultivation have made e-commerce synonymous with "new consumption". However, the booming trend came to an abrupt end at the end of last year when the live broadcast studio in Viya was banned. The "Super Head" collapsed and the industry was shocked, and the "Top Stream" in running all the way was forced to stop. Even after many months, both Viya’s own rebroadcast and the "backdoor" team’s water test are in the exploratory stage of supervision, and the policy attitude is unclear, so all parties choose to continue to wait and see.

  The fitness bloggers ushered in a sudden surge of powder this spring, and they felt like "the east is not bright and the west is bright". It is still inconclusive whether the industry has opened up the blue ocean or tapped its potential to save itself.However, the question in people’s minds is, over the years, the complex game relationship formed by "Top Flow", MCN institutions, platforms and brands will also hold the whole traffic ecology.

  Who is making the top flow?

  Short video track and sharing community have bred a large number of high-quality bloggers. Their works start from hobbies, to being sponsored by the brand to implant "just rice" through products, and then go off to do live broadcast in person. Realizing by "bringing goods" is the business path that most bloggers choose by "voting with their feet" after continuous exploration.

  On this road, bloggers need to create different personal designs and differentiate competition, so as to increase the number of fans and the stickiness of fans. After all, traffic and the number of fans determine the influence of bloggers, and influence is the premise for brands to hand over olive branches.How to strike a balance between the quality of works, commercial transformation and fans’ emotions tests the control of every blogger.

  Compared with video bloggers who are "looking ahead and looking back", network anchors are obviously more handy for "bringing goods". After all, "bringing goods" is essentially commodity recommendation and marketing. Compared with the salespersons in traditional shopping malls, the anchors in the digital economy era have nothing but added a sense of real-time interaction and experience. According to estimates, there will be about 20 million new employees in this industrial chain, most of whom are post-95 generation.

  Pre-sale, in-sale and after-sale are all online, and consultant marketing replaces traditional promotion. This requires anchors to establish the role of "shopping guide" among users, and finally aggregate fragmented social traffic and turn it into sales performance.In the journey of anchors becoming the "top stream", professionalism and "network sense" are both stepping stones and stumbling blocks.Consumers in front of the screen can always keenly capture their understanding and love of the goods from the anchor’s eyes and words.

  After all, commercial operation involves not only "bringing goods", but also a combination of investment promotion, marketing, planning, advertising and brokerage companies. It is difficult for individuals to take care of so many links, and stars are no exception. Many "Meng Xin" bloggers and anchors who have just started are often "lack of stamina" and fall into the whirlpool of public opinion of "plagiarism", "darkness" and even fakes.

  Even sometimes, bloggers and anchors who are not deeply involved in the world will become victims of the whirlpool of public opinion. A report entitled "Live broadcast with goods" black intermediary cut leeks, Hu Xinger carried the pot "pushed the anchor Hu Xinger to the forefront. The anchor cried foul, the organizer cried injustice, humbly sought to refute rumors, and after verifying the information in many ways, it was discovered that this was a dispute caused by the middleman earning the difference.

  More and more bloggers and anchors realize that to be promoted to the "first line" and "top stream", whether accepting the invitation of MCN institutions or building their own teams, "recruiting" is imminent, and professionals should be allowed to do professional things as much as possible. Li Jiaqi, the "first brother of live broadcast", once revealed that his quality inspection team has a postgraduate degree or above, and there are professionals who do food research and chemical testing. Viya, on the other hand, said that he has a team of more than 500 people, who recommend products through layer-by-layer screening.

  Bloggers and anchors who occupied resources earlier became the "top stream" and became the flow pool of the separatist party. While improving the bargaining power of brands, they began to lay out the supply chain ecology and went deep into the development of many brands. In Europe and America, the commercial development path from beauty bloggers and online celebrity to developing their own brands has long been open.

  In the case that the epidemic has long affected the supply chain and logistics of e-commerce, it is more operable and more in line with the staffing of some "top-stream" stars through short video advertisement implantation and live broadcast. Liu Genghong, a new "top stream", may not be in a hurry to receive commercial orders with live broadcast. Business cooperation is more about brand implantation, and in the future, it is more likely to provide customized lectures for the platform or directly speak for the brand.

  MCN mechanism breaks "deep binding"

  As a bridge connecting brands, bloggers and platforms, MCN institutions are mainly responsible for personnel incubation, traffic operation and resource docking, and also have value-added services such as copywriting planning, supply chain promotion and data analysis.However, at present, the business model of MCN institutions is still single, and it is still difficult to get rid of excessive dependence on head bloggers and anchors.

  Incubating a "top stream" is expensive and the winning rate is unpredictable. After all, it is a probability event to become the "head" of the tripod. Ruhan Holdings, known as "the first share in online celebrity, China", has been in a slump since its listing on NYSE. According to the disclosed revenue data, the expenses of incubating anchors are huge and the marketing expenses are high, and the market is worried about whether it can cultivate the next Zhang Dayi. And once online celebrity, who is in favor of Li Peng, runs away, it will cause great damage to MCN institutions. Li Jiajia, the founder of Li Ziqi IP, sued the MCN institutions with which she cooperated, which is the latest example. Although the lawsuit has not yet reached a conclusion, it has had an impact on the financing of micro-reading, and the capital that had previously invested at a high price began to retreat.

  Different from the head MCN organization, the middle-tail MCN organization has few funds and resources, is difficult to expand its business and has high trial and error cost, so it is difficult to sign a contract with a well-known online celebrity.Such MCN organizations can only sign small and medium-sized bloggers and anchors. They often have limited creativity and do not have bargaining power, which indirectly leads to a negative cycle in which it is difficult to cash in goods, and the weaker the weak.

  After several hesitations, Xiao Xia finally signed a contract with MCN. Because she didn’t get the key support from the organization operation team, her boyfriend was still responsible for the material shooting, post-editing, platform entry and uploading during the epidemic period. They also needed to lead the barrage, manage the comment area and maintain the basic operation of the account regularly.

  "Although the second creation is controversial, it has become a common choice of insiders, at least let us have income this month," Xiao Xia said.

  In the field of e-commerce live broadcast, cheap and high-quality broadcast companies are also actively seizing the market, and the middle and tail MCN institutions are even worse. A broadcasting company is a live broadcast service provider that provides services such as operation, anchor and venue for brand live broadcast. Unlike MCN, anchors charge "pit fee+commission", and most broadcast companies charge according to "service fee+hourly salary". Compared with the tens of thousands of pit fees for a live broadcast of MCN institutions, the hourly salary of the service provider is only a few hundred yuan. Many brands will sign long-term cooperation with broadcasting companies, which can not only maintain brand popularity at a lower cost, but also ensure the duration of live broadcast. What’s more, the brand will poach the anchor of the broadcasting company. In the increasingly fierce traffic rivers and lakes, the positioning of the middle and tail MCN is becoming more and more embarrassing.

  Under the pressure of profit, MCN institutions have made efforts to transform. Just like the "top flow" supply chain, MCN organizations also began to regard the supply chain as their core competitiveness. Although Qian Xun behind Viya also pays attention to the training of anchors, he has already integrated the supply chain and developed a "super supply chain base" to increase the gross profit margin.

  Platform seeks change in strong supervision

  It is a consensus in the industry that traffic will be concentrated in the head to improve the conversion rate. "In Ali, there are two types of anchors: Li Jiaqi, Viya and others."

  Recalling the "Double Eleven" in 2018, Alibaba founder Ma Yun personally went off to compete with Li Jiaqi to buy lipstick, and the platform bought huge traffic for the two anchors. Now, this scene is almost impossible to happen again. The "top flow" has become a "black hole" of the platform, absorbing most of the ecological dividends, and it is difficult for small and medium-sized anchors and businesses to grow.

  When the "Top Streams" and their companies invariably choose to go deep into the upstream supply chain and try to become "Costco of the electric business", the crisis of the e-commerce platform is getting stronger and stronger, and it is impossible to sit still. Alibaba not only helps the head brand to cultivate its own broadcasting team, but also supports business anchors like Dong Mingzhu to balance the siphoning of traffic by "super heads" like Li Jiaqi and Viya, and reduce the risks caused by anchor flow and ban.

  The video platform is also actively responding. While encouraging ordinary users to produce UGC (user-original content) content, it will sign stars and brands to realize more professionals to "settle in", produce more PGC (professional production content) content and incubate more new "top streams" with professional endorsements. More and more video platforms are embracing e-commerce.

  In addition, the platform has to deal with the cross-platform operation of "Top Stream" bloggers and anchors. To this end, the platform continues to expand partitions, attract users through diversification, and develop new traffic.

  In fact, under the background of tightening supervision such as anti-monopoly and anti-unfair competition and the penetration rate of short video industry approaching the ceiling, the platform needs to do more than just build a platform for display and match potential business opportunities. Online transactions starting with "bringing goods" involve multiple subjects such as bloggers (anchors), product suppliers, broadcasting platforms and third-party platforms. Once disputes arise, it is not easy for consumers to defend their rights, and e-commerce platforms often have to cover all kinds of complaints. When the brushing behavior is frequent, the inaction of the e-commerce platform is also criticized.

  In addition, the responsibility for the platform is further tightened for issues such as "price increase first and then discount". The Interim Provisions on Standardizing Promotion Behavior, which came into effect on December 1, 2020, clearly stipulates that the benchmark price of promotion should be defined when the promotion price is reduced. If the promotion benchmark price is not marked or indicated, the discount and price reduction shall be based on the lowest transaction price of the same operator in the same business premises within seven days before this promotion.

  The brand side is not willing to be "bonus hunter"

  The commercial uncertainty of live broadcast e-commerce is much stronger than that of ordinary e-commerce platforms. The anchor is easy to sell out and sell out. The huge fluctuation of single volume causes the pressure on the supply chain to increase sharply, and the high draw of anchor leads to meager profits, which merchants love and hate. The "Top Stream" team, which is more familiar with traffic operation, has both fame and fortune.

  At this point, the relationship between the step-by-step "top stream" and the platform and merchants has become increasingly unbalanced, and the brand has to personally participate in the live broadcast, in order to improve the bargaining power and try to reshape the channel. This year’s "Double Eleven", over 80% of the live broadcast rooms are business live broadcast rooms, with a year-on-year increase of over 200%. 184 old brands, such as Pien Tze Huang Pearl Cream and Fang Huichuntang Sesame Pills, followed the trend to open live broadcast rooms, and Beijing Caibai Jewelry was the first live broadcast room among the old brands with a turnover of over 10 million.

  The brand is the "customer" and "Party A’s father" in the true sense of the platform and anchor, but now it has to compete with Party B.. And the price competition bears the brunt.

  Almost all the head anchors claim to be "the lowest price in the whole network", and the more the head anchors, the more they emphasize this point. The biggest advantage that the brand side valued the anchor delivery at the beginning was to promote inventory clearance. In the past few years, due to the epidemic, the channel backlog was caused, and online without physical space restrictions became the first choice. But nowadays, more and more brands begin to choose in-store live broadcast to bring goods, and live broadcast has become the normal state of Internet sales and the embedded standard of many stores. After the brand joined this "involution", it gradually found that its control over pricing power was getting weaker and weaker.

  Long-term low-price promotion is actually harmful to the brand. At first, the brand side thought that compared with the advertising mode, the cost of obtaining customers by live broadcast was lower, and the portrait of users was more accurate. Through the improvement of repurchase rate, consumer relations could be recreated, so the traffic business was regarded as the marketing standard in the era of big data.But the question is, do big brands need to break through the bottom line at the lowest discount to get customers?The brand has more comparison and consideration on how strong the discount is and in which channel.

  New brands, on the other hand, prefer to take advantage of "Top Flow" to build brand awareness. Compared with mature brands, the price and channel system of new brands are opaque, and they are more inclined to "cooperate" with the operating strategies of bloggers, anchors or platforms.

  Behind the traffic business is the migration of consumer relations.Under the violent impact of e-commerce economy, the traditional retail market has long been unrecognizable, especially with the improvement of online payment, logistics and other industries, just-needed shopping has shifted to online, and the typical department store model has completely declined. "Top Stream" bloggers and anchors firmly grasp the core competitiveness — — The selection ability of the supply chain helps consumers make choices, enhances the shopping experience and realizes the realization of traffic.

  At present, the game between "Top Stream", MCN institutions, platforms and brands has reached the midfield.The trend of "top flow" platformization is accelerating, which touches the vested interests in the flow ecology and grabs the "pricing power" of platform flow, which is bound to cause a chain reaction and stir up the decision-making of all parties.

  However, with the intensive admission of supervision, the market expectation variables are increasing. Among them, there are not only comprehensive tax management for "Top Stream" and MCN institutions, but also the tightening of anti-monopoly and anti-unfair competition supervision for platforms and brands. A series of laws and regulations such as "Basic Standards for Shopping Operation and Service of Live Video" and "Code of Conduct for Live Webcast Marketing" have been promulgated one after another.

  It can be predicted that the competition among all parties in the future is not only a contest of traffic, operation, technology or professional ability, but also a contest of values, policy adaptability and compliance.Knowing and understanding the policy direction, observing the industry norms and expanding the career radius will be the new curriculum for the "top stream". At present, the final realization of Liu Genghong has not been announced, and its commercial value is difficult to predict, but Do not forget your initiative mind is still the public’s greatest expectation for "Liu Genghong".