VLOG / TURN / RIVER: Vloggers Still Hoping for Endorsement Windfall

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As vloggers continue to build a strong following, endorsement opportunities are slow to present themselves.

Celebrity in the poker world is hard to define. The line between the level of Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth and then everyone else doesn’t exist the way it did before Black Friday. There are celebrities in poker and vloggers are part of a niche group that draws its own fanbase. This draw is proving to be beneficial for both the vloggers themselves and a certain Las Vegas casino.

Fine Line

Andrew Neeme leads the vlogging brigade with 81,000 subscribers. That rate of traffic translates to only 12,100 Twitter followers. The vlogging world is establishing a foothold but hasn’t yet gone mainstream.

Neeme is considered a celebrity among his community. Last week, he was recognized for his vlog via two American Poker Awards. Where does Neeme’s popularity come from? He thinks that the poker world thrives on active communication as the largest factor.

“The poker world is relatively small, and the ‘community’ likes to share things, whether it’s strategy or gossip or content,” Neeme said. “It’s one of the reasons the vlog took off so quickly. So since the videos have been shared by many different corners of the community, there are people that say hi in almost every poker room, which is really cool because everyone is so nice.”

The recognition of Neeme extends outside of U.S. borders. The worldwide vlogger has had fans come up to him in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Every Session Becomes a Home Game

Andrew Pieper and Tim Watts have increased encounters with fans during their sessions as a result of the respective growth of their vlogs. The pair shares a hesitancy of being spotted as they believe it hurts their image. Overall, they realize it’s best for their brand to have as many fans and future subscribers as possible.

“I get recognized a lot. Just last night, someone said hi to me at Harrah’s Table 5, the I moved to Table 2 and another guy mentioned it. It’s still kinda weird for me, so many people knowing who I am,” Watts said.

Is There Value in Signing an Endorsement?

The vloggers think they have a chance to boost the profile of smaller casinos. The Westgate in Las Vegas hosts meetups and games featuring vloggers and has seen its traffic grow, according to Brad Owen. The correlation between having a familiar face in the room on a regular basis is a benefit Owen is surprised more casinos have not yet taken advantage of.

“For the land-based casinos, a lot of people will say ‘Oh I’m going to go check out this place because I saw it on your vlog and it cool.’ Like, a lot of people are checking out the Westgate now because they’ve been so receptive to the whole vlogging thing. It’s crazy to me that other smaller poker rooms aren’t jumping on board,” Owen commented.

Pieper and Neeme both agree that Westgate’s utilization of the reach of vloggers has helped to build the casino’s brand.

When Does the Money Hit?

The question of money isn’t pertinent yet to the vlogging panel. Understanding that monetary expansion comes with building an audience keeps them hungry to produce more quality content.

“Anytime you’re able to build an audience, there will be opportunities to partner with organizations who want to work together, Neeme said. “I’m definitely open to partnerships from which everyone finds value, as long as the audience is included in ‘everyone.’ It doesn’t need to be a required goal when you’re starting a project like this, though. Documenting this time in your life will have the built in benefit of you or your kids being able to look back on it some years down the road.”

The ‘celebrity’ factor draws in gradual rewards and perhaps soon enough the money will follow.