YouTube Place LA signThink big advertisers are so focused on TV’s Golden Age programming (and audiences) that they aren’t interested in the YouTube-based creators drawing hordes of younger viewers to watch their back-bedroom shows? Think again.

Earlier this week, research firm eMarketer estimated Google would take in about $5.6 billion in gross YouTube advertising revenues, up 51 percent from 2012, and would keep nearly $2 billion after paying YouTube partners and expenses. Those estimates are notably higher than other Wall Street firms’ (and Google doesn’t break out its YouTube revenues and expenses separately), but suggest regardless that lots of money is sloshing into the online video king.

And based on this week’s Los Angeles events sponsored by Ford and Nintendo, Madison Avenue and its big clients are definitely tuning into YouTube’s rising echelon of performers for marketing boosts in lots of different ways besides just buying an ad.

Tubeathon stage and screenThe Ford event Thursday night at YouTube Space LA, a mammoth Hughes Aircraft hangar in Playa Vista that the online giant has converted into a sprawling community production facility, was the second annual What’s Trending Tubeathon. The event was a fundraiser for Covenant House, featuring live performances and appearances by more than 100 YouTube personalities (along with a few celebs such as Snoop Dogg), all streamed online during a two-hour marathon hosted by Shira Lazar of online talk show What’s Trending. To raise money, viewers were asked to Tweet both #Tubeathon and #FiestaMovement, a reference to a marketing campaign for a Ford car model. Ford pledged to donate $1 for every pair of tweets.

During the height of the fundraiser, the two terms were second and third overall on Twitter’s trending topics, behind a phrase being pushed by anti-abortion activists, and generated more than 50,000 tweets in all. Organizers quoted social-media analysts Mass Relevance, which estimated the event generated 167 million “social impressions” (i.e., the number of times the material was viewed or shared on social media), big numbers for any brand trying to reach young audiences that typically aren’t watching TV in any traditional setting or time frame.

Nintendo took a somewhat more traditional approach, using a short film contest and the promise of a trip to the Sundance Film Festival to entice YouTube stars to participate.

Tubeathon crowd and a live performance on screenNintendo invited the creative teams behind 30 channels to each make a short film based on one or both of the company’s big Wii U games this season, Super Mario 3D World and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. The YouTubers then competed to attract more than 10,000 online views of their individual projects.

All told, Nintendo says the 30 resulting videos received more than 1.5 million views over a two-week period before the winner, gamer site Hey Ash, Whatcha’ Playin?, was announced and their video was screened Thursday night in Hollywood.

Now, the HAWP team will collaborate with another YouTube star, Freddie Wong, to make another short film based on another Wii U game, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. That resulting project will premiere Jan. 16 during the Sundance Film Festival, at a “chalet” Nintendo will be running in Park City to show off its game titles while festival attendees take a break and thaw out.