YouTube threw itself a 10th birthday party Wednesday at Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden Theater, using its annual “Brandcast” event to celebrate the diversity of content flourishing on the platform.
Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, touted the reach and influence of the Google-owned property, noting statistics intended to impress assembled advertisers moving through their third day of NewFront presentations that will go on another seven days.
“Our mobile growth has been so strong in the U.S. that YouTube now reaches more 18-49 on mobile alone than any cable network,” said Wojcicki. “That’s incredible scale.”
But the Brandcast was actually quite light on statistics by NewFront standards and much more filled with testimonies from myriad perspectives on the power of the platform. Josh Goldstine, president of worldwide marketing, at Universal Pictures, took the stage to explain how YouTube had transformed his approach to promoting films from the studio.
“From another perspective, we are entering the most exciting time in my 25 years of doing this, a new golden age of opportunity,” said Goldstine.
He focused his remarks on how advances in data science had helped him take cheaply produced movies like “The Purge” and “Unfriended” and made them far more profitable than blockbusters by sophisticated targeting of audience segments with digital-native content on YouTube.
The Brandcast also featured host Grace Helbig, Buzzfeed Video chief Ze Frank and John Green, the writer of novel “The Fault in Our Stars” who also has a popular YouTube channel with his brother, Hank Green.
Citing the $300 million-grossing movie made from his book, he credited his online presence for making that happen. “There’s no way the success would have happened without YouTube,” he noted.
Contrary to the other presenters who pitched advertisers on their value, Green made an impassioned plea how community-focused YouTube content fosters an enriching engagement from young viewers with the platform and each other that is better than mainstream entertainment.
Before the event closed with a performance from Bruno Mars, the final speaker was Robert Kyncl, head of content and business operations at YouTube. He positioned YouTube as a successor to the traditional entertainment industry in its ability to marry content with advertising, only this time around on a different set of devices.
“That shift requires partnering with a new set of players who are as successful on mobile as Hollywood was in the living room,” said Kyncl.
He also expressed gratitude to the advertisers in attendance. “Thank you for the most incredible and expensive brithday party ever,” said Kyncl. “Thank you for paying for it.”