At YouTube’s annual Brandcast event, the king of online video touted its reach and new celebrity-fueled projects as reasons why advertisers should invest their dollars with the Web instead of television. According to CEO Susan Wojcicki, YouTube now has 1.8 billion monthly logged-in viewers. Considering that number doesn’t take into account viewers who simply go to YouTube to watch videos without logging in, it means YouTube’s reach continues to grow despite recent controversies surrounding its creators and how the site treats potentially offensive content.
Wojcicki didn’t go into detail about any of YouTube’s recent content issues, but she did highlight the importance of facing the challenges that come with such a vast, open platform. “It’s incredibly important to me and to everyone at YouTube that we grow responsibly,” Wojcicki said. “There isn’t a playbook for how open platforms operate at our scale. But the way I think about it, is it’s critical that we are on the right side of history.”
Wojcicki announced that YouTube aims to have more than 10,000 human moderators looking at “violative” content on the platform. In recent months, YouTube has added more humans to its moderation team, hoping to supplement the machine learning technology it uses to moderate the content on its site. These changes came as YouTube placed new restrictions on creators that are allowed to monetize content through YouTube’s Partner Program, and as the company added new details to its content policies in order to flesh out the definitions of what it considers offensive and inappropriate content.
Ever since the ad-pocalypse over a year ago, YouTube has been forced to continuously address its content problems to appease advertisers. When advertisers discovered their ads running over terroristic, salacious, and inappropriate videos, many pulled away from YouTube and took their dollars with them. While monitoring billions of hours of video is no small feat, the more that YouTube can say it is doing to cleanse its monetizable content, the better.
Upping the star-power
YouTube continued another part of its strategy by announcing new celebrity content partnerships. Arguably the most peculiar and dramatic collaboration is with Will Smith—YouTube will live stream the actor bungee-jumping from a helicopter over the Grand Canyon on Smith’s 50th birthday in a few months on September 25.
In addition, YouTube signed deals with the NBA and LeBron James to air a docu-series dubbed Best Shot about high school basketball players on the NBA’s YouTube channel. Youtube also snagged a deal with Quantico star Priyanka Chopra for a show called If I Could Tell You Just One Thing in which the actress asks people from around the world for their best advice. The company also renewed a few of its celebrity-driven, ad-supported shows announced last year, including Kevin Hart’s What the Fit? comedy-fitness reality show.
The company’s increased moderation and celebrity collaborations are undoubtably meant to show advertisers that the online video site is just as appealing, if not more so, than traditional television. Highly produced content like celebrity collaborations give advertisers mostly clean and buzzy content to support, while YouTube also benefits from its creators who carry their own audiences—many of which are millions strong. Only two YouTube homegrown creators gave speeches at Brandcast—Anna Akana and Tyler Oakley—both of whom emphasized how YouTube gives them a platform to reach a wide variety of viewers, as well as a space for them to be creative.
However, Brandcast is an event for advertisers, and it appeared YouTube leaned more heavily on its high-profile partnerships than it did last year. In addition to all the new celebrity-driven content coming to the platform soon, YouTube announced that it renewed its Coachella live stream rights for another three years. Also, for the first time, YouTube will make ad inventory on all official music videos on the site available through Google Preferred, its top-tier advertising platform. That means advertisers looking to buy into Google’s premium ad platform have much more content to choose from on YouTube, and it should all be content that gleans millions of views fairly quickly.
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