Intern’s Digest: YouTube Digital Upfront

In this week’s industry update, Elliot briefed us on the latest goings-on at YouTube.


As the dust settled on our Ikea #dreamkitchen, I dashed across the road to the shiny new Google offices for the 2016 YouTube Digital Upfront. This was a chance for the media giant to show off what they’ve been up to, what’s new, how cool it is to work at Google (Spoiler: really cool) and use their new YouTube Space for the first time. And for the advertising industry to take advantage of an open bar. After collecting my official badge and feeling super official with a lanyard, a couple of Googlers escorted upstairs into Google’s Great Glass Elevator. Shot up eight floors in as many seconds through an industrial brutalist glass atrium we arrived at an entire beechwood clad floor – the YouTube floor. Exposed neon signs light up the entrances to two different auditorium spaces – this evening we would be ushered into the Major Tom auditorium. With doors opening at 5pm, and the presentations not due to start until 6 one thing was particularly well received, a bottomless wine and cheese bar. Facebook’s upfront was data heavy and full of analysis, YouTube’s was full of good red wine and blue cheese. Take note, Facebook.

As far as auditorium theaters go this was pretty special. Behind a shallow stage was an entire wall of 40″ TVs – 48 in total (I counted) all of which were in sync and the entire width was used for each presentation. This was all controlled from a room with even more screens that I luckily managed to snap before I was ushered away and back to the bar. We kicked off with a short introduction from YouTuber Anna Johnson who took us through her journey from aspiring TV journalist to YouTube sensation. Pete Cory, Agency Director of Branding at Google then took over and began as any good presentation should – cat videos. The presentation proper then began, and we dived into the statistics of YouTube’s audience and their engagement with the platform. Cory broke this down into three key fields:

1. It is a platform with scale and cultural influence The most popular place to watch the Olympics highlights: YouTube. The most popular place to watch the Presidential Debate Highlights: YouTube. It’s where Julius Yego from Kenya taught himself to throw the javelin and even made it to the Olympics. The average viewing session time on the site: 40 minutes. Ideas are born here – like this man who sings with his dad in the car who has Alzheimers and raised over a million pounds for charity by accident. It is where you go when you hear about a new topic and want to learn about it for yourself. 50% of views are on mobile, but the fastest growing platform is on the big screen – in living rooms.

2. They have an audience with intent People land on the YouTube site with the intent to watch, not scroll. People watch videos here – with the sound on! 96% of videos on YouTube are watched with the sound on, 84% on facebook are watched with the sound off. YouTube is the number 1 choice for 16-24-year-olds in online video watching. 39% of total time spent on YouTube is from over 35s.

3. It is an audience that is willing to engage and has proven effectiveness YouTube has proven effectiveness in reach and higher ROI than TVC.

Then followed a live cooking demonstration from Barry from My Virgin Kitchen involving Anna Johnson crushing up Oreos and Philadelphia cheese with her hands in a bowl. I’m fairly sure it sounded better in their pre-presentation meeting than it looked on stage. The following two presentations stressed the cultural relevance of YouTube with zeitgeist montages and examples. Cancer Research UK combined their Stand Up To Cancer event and YouTube’s platform together in a 1000 hour telethon marathon. The event culminated in a 4-hour live stream event from one of YouTube’s soundstages (which were directly below the auditorium we sat in).

It’s around this point that business was concluded, we were asked to eat more canapés and drink more free wine of which I obliged as it was my duty to do so. Canape highlights: chicken wings and peanut sauce. Canape lows: quinoa sliders. And then Ella Eyre came on stage and was pretty awesome. I also managed to grab two Google cardboard VR headsets which Rich and I have so feel free to give them a go!

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