YouTube Festival x Digital Upfronts: 4 things we learnt

Posted on Wednesday 13 October 2021 | IAB UK

Catch up on our key takeouts from 2021's YouTube Festival, part of Digital Upfronts

Opening YouTube Festival 2021, legendary DJ Annie Mac set the scene for an event packed with stars, insights and news launches. “Millions and millions are making more and more diverse content… YouTube is now the go-to for entertainment in the UK. We’ll meet some of the fantastically talented people out there and hear from brands as to why every campaign needs to have YouTube at its heart.” So what did we learn? Here are our key takeouts. 

1. Time spent on YouTube is growing 

“YouTube is where the UK watches the content that we love, the content that brings us together” explained Google’s Ronan Harris, adding that “watch time is growing and growing”. According to Comscore, the average person in the UK is spending 60 minutes on YouTube every day, while this year’s Olympics saw watch time rocket by seven times vs Rio 2016. Why are people drawn to YouTube? With a wealth of diverse content, Harris described YouTube as “the platform for content that is personal and relevant to you” and said that it is “representative of a modern, diverse and open Britain”. 

2. Creators are sharing unique voices 

Mac spoke to three content creators that are seeing huge success on YouTube. Amelia Dimoldenberg of Chicken Shop Dates explained that “YouTube has allowed me to be the weirdest version of myself” giving her the freedom to have a tone of voice that is “unique and awkward” (and very funny). This freedom was also key for Naomi Campbell - model, activist and YouTube creator:” I came to YouTube because I could be myself and I could have ownership of myself.” Meanwhile, Patricia Bright, host of new YouTube Original ‘If I Could Tell You Just One Thing’ highlighted how the show is all about women supporting women and bringing a variety of voices to the screen. 

3. ‘Bothism’ is the way forward 

Digital vs traditional. Long term vs short term. Marketing is filled with contrasts, but it doesn’t have to be that way according to Mark Ritson. The professor, author and columnist thinks that ‘bothism’ is the way forward, based on the belief that “any of these individual concepts are better if we combine them”. He added: “There is no better place to look at the application of bothism in this one comparison - by putting together TV and YouTube.”

It’s a concept that Manning Gottlieb OMD’s Natalie Bell and BT’s Graeme Adams both agree with. By utilising both TV and YouTube, advertisers can expand their reach, particularly among hard to reach audiences. Adams said that YouTube delivers an average of 25% incremental reach on harder to reach audiences, while Bell said that the average campaign they run sees YouTube deliver a reach uplift of 12%. However, don’t be tempted to recycle TV ads on YouTube Adams warned - the best content is tailored to the platform.  

4. A platform for discovery & connection

Rounding up the event, Google’s Lyor Cohen sat down with global superstar Ed Sheeran for a chat about how YouTube allows artists to connect with audiences and build followings. As Cohen said, “the music business used to be an audio business, but with YouTube it’s become a video audio business”, while Sheeran said that a good video “can blow up and create a viral moment”. As he put it, “an audience wants to connect to you on every single level” and YouTube provides a space to create that connection. Discoverability is also a big factor, with YouTube Shorts “allowing anyone to be creative on a budget”. 

After more? You can watch YouTube Festival back here.

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