YouTube’s Digital Upfront: what we learnt

Posted on Tuesday 25 October 2022 | IAB UK

With speakers including Sam Smith, Griff and Ben Foster, YouTube’s event highlighted the talent and creators on the platform

Hosted at KOKO in Camden and streamed online, YouTube Festival returned with Phil Miles, UK Country Manager, opening the event by saying: “Tonight is about celebrating the diversity and the creativity of YouTube in the UK.” What followed was a deep dive into the creative and diverse communities that make YouTube what it is today. With 96% of the UK population using YouTube every month, Miles explained: “Because we have this great content that comes from the whole of the UK, we really attract the whole of the UK.” Here’s what we learnt… 


YouTube reflects Britain today

“Every time you're investing in YouTube, you’re helping to create a more integrated, more inclusive UK”, said Nishma Patel Robb, Senior Director of Marketing at Google UK, adding that: “People see YouTube as a reflection of today’s Britain.”  She shared the results of a study Google has conducted with MTM, ‘Mirrors & Windows’, where they asked over 10,000 people in the UK how their identity informs what they watch. Explaining the name of the piece, Patel Robb said: “Brits want the media they consume to be a mirror reflecting their passions and lived experience, and a window to discover and understand the lives of others.” 

The results show that while 85% of those asked were concerned about inequality and discrimination in the UK, 74% of YouTube users said the platform supports a diverse range of people to become content creators. Her message to advertisers? “Support the storytellers, the musicians, the artists… [YouTube] is giving a voice to the marginalised and allowing the whole of the UK to be seen.”


Unlocking a younger audience

A buy-side panel shared how they’re using YouTube to engage a younger demographic and drive results. Jon Lewis, Channel 4’s Head of Commercial Innovation & Partners, gave the audience an insight into how the broadcaster has diversified its strategy to focus on digital views with content coexisting on YouTube and its owned channels. “We’re a challenger…  we like to take risks at Channel 4” he explained. “We are reaching younger audiences on YouTube, while maintaining audiences on our own [channels].” 

In a similar vein, Sky’s Head of Social, Kate Waters, shared how the brand is working with Ben Foster on YouTube for its World Cup Sky Glass campaign: “What Ben does is he unlocks that younger sport fan... it’s a really engaged organic community, he can speak to it authentically.” This chimed with a great point from MediaCom UK’s COO Luke Bozeat: “We’re living in a time where what constitutes good content has never been broader… it’s all about the engagement you can create with an audience.”

You get to know the artist in a different way

YouTube’s event spotlighted some of the creators that have built careers on the platform, such as BAFTA winning comedian Munya Chawawa, as well award-winning musicians that use YouTube to connect with their fans in a unique way. Ahead of a set that closed the show, global star Sam Smith said YouTube allows them to “live with the fans in the moment”. Meanwhile, Griff - who was named YouTube’s ‘Artist on the Rise’ in 2021 - described how YouTube allows people to “get to know the artist in a different way and get to know their world”. Ben Foster, ex-Premier League and England footballer who now hosts his own YouTube channel, also highlighted how YouTube allows creators to build genuine connections with their followers: “They feel like they know me already and that’s the beauty of YouTube.” 

Catch up on the rest of IAB UK’s Digital Upfronts here

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