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Online platforms are connecting influencers with brands in ways that are cutting out agencies and other traditional middlemen, according to panelists at the influencer and content creator convention, VidCon Asia.

The event was held Thursday as an in-person event at Singapore’s Suntec Convention Centre, as part of the Singapore Media Festival.

TikTok executives pointed to the platform’s Open Application Campaign, a feature that allows creators to apply directly to be a part of brand campaigns, as an example of the ways influencers and brands are increasingly streamlined.

“Once an OAC is live, the brand will be able to review the short list of creator applications including relevant metrics and reference videos to help guide the selection process,” said Justin Keh, head of growth and operations at TikTok.

This dependence on data from platforms was also echoed by Sophie Eom of analytics firm Adriel, who opined that a power shift was occurring away from agencies, primarily because brands required real time data on the efficacy of their marketing and ad spend.

Speakers at the convention were particularly keen to stress the market potential of Asia, which counts over 2 billion active social media users.

According to Google executives, the online video content creation industry adds $1.4 billion to South Korea and employs over 86,000 people. Opening speaker and Singapore Minister of State for Communications and Information, Tan Kiat How said that the digital economy of Southeast Asian had grown by 50% during the last two pandemic-stricken years.

The business optimism of the convention was tempered, however, with tacit acknowledgement by some panelists of the looming social and mental health ills of online video creation and consumption.

One content creator admitted to spending between 4 to 5 hours a day browsing TikTok, while Singaporean influencer Ming Wei Ng shared his experience of feeding the online beast. “I was just creating content every day. I remember when I hit 10 million followers, I thought I would be happy, but I wasn’t happy. I was a bit burned out,” said Ng.