King of The Web: A Look Behind The Throne

A red-haired girl with a thick Australian accent draws Pokémon while wearing her makeup and hair in a style inspired by the video game Skyrim. ‘Perfect,’ I think to myself, ‘every Web cliché packed into a 10-minute YouTube video.’ In the next video, I watch the same girl talk about her lifelong obsession with the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

Around this point, I begin to wonder when she is going to start making a cat dance to dubstep while talking about how much unicorns and beards “pwn.” However, as I continue searching through videos from King of The Web’s current reigning champ, Louna Maroun, my cynicism slowly begins to fade away. Louna Maroun is charming, she is funny, and most of all, she is doing this for her fans.

If you watch videos from the top users on King of The Web, you will see that they all have adopted this approach towards their fans. The online leaderboard contest is focused on one thing only, and that is building a relationship with fans. “This is an opportunity to deepen the relationship they have with their most valuable fans. Those fans are so excited and flattered to feel that much closer to their hero,” King of The Web CEO Maggie Finch told me in an interview.

Since its genesis in 2010, King of The Web has been pitting some of YouTube’s best independent stars against one another for cash and prizes. The contest is judged based on the amount of votes that video creators receive on their campaign pages. “We want to introduce people to a whole new idea that if they love watching content here and there on YouTube, there is a whole host of other characters and amazing content creators that they may love just as much,” Finch said.

By approaching a Web audience to vote and elect a “King of The Web,” the contest is entirely based on users ability to craft, as Finch puts it, “relationship entertainment.” This concept of creating personal connections with fans is the backbone of King of The Web. “There is a secret silver bullet for those who may not be always Pulitzer Prize-winning in what they do, and I think it has to do with building an amazing relationship,” Finch told me.

King of The Web: Too Good To Be Real?

An internet contest that rewards people with upwards of $7,500 for putting out videos is bound to be met with some skepticism. Recently, King of The Web user and YouTube personality, Onision, criticized the contest in a YouTube upload, titled “King of Cons.” In the video, Onision claims that King of The Web was offering voters the opportunity to buy votes to increase their favorite YouTube celebrity’s ranking. Onision asks, “Why would you give money to some contest that someone can win, when you can just give money directly to that person?” Furthermore, user Highest Angel on the official Onision message board claims that, “they are trying to make money out of other peoples videos by offering the illusion of prestige with a little cash reward. In return they get tones (sic) more cash back and website promotion. And ridiculious (sic) profit for doing jack all. That is not a service it’s like a illegitimate scheme. Leeching off of other peoples success. Getting promotion for their site and cash is all they are concerned with.”

Typically, I always take the word of users with handles like Highest Angel, but I decided to contact King of The Web’s VP of marketing and development, Casey Selleck about the accusations. “As in most social games, there is a form of virtual currency that can be earned and redeemed for game play features. More specifically, voters can earn Kingmaker Passes for their dedication. Kingmaker Passes can be redeemed for enhanced voting status, but cannot be used directly to purchase votes. If voters don’t want to earn a pass, then they may purchase one. We see the vast majority of loyal fans earn passes. To date, any proceeds from passes have gone directly back into the prize pool for future winners,” Selleck wrote in an email.

In the video posted by Onision, he goes on to question the nature of King of The Web’s charity funds, saying, “They allow you to donate some of your winnings to an organization and that way, I don’t know for sure, they can probably write it off on their taxes, therefore offering them more profit…right? It’s kind of evil genius scheme.”

When I asked Selleck about this, she responded by saying “King of the Web makes a donation to charity in the name of the donor/winner and that winner receives a receipt from that charity. So no, King of the Web is not benefiting from a large tax break. More information can be found here: “

Several critics of King of The Web have also called into question whether contest winners actually receive any of the promised money after a successful campaign. A previous winner on King of The Web, Boogie, recently tweeted that, “As a person who won the thing, and is sitting here with his prize check on his desk I can assure you @kingofweb is NOTHING LIKE a scam.” Boogie furthermore tweeted that, “I recently read a ‘review’ of @kingofweb saying that a recent competitor believes it’s a ‘scam’. Sounds like a sore loser to me.”

Are any NMR fans competing in King of The Web? What do you guys think of the contest? Make some noise below.

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