Video presentations were customized to viewers’ interests, with on-camera participants in the heavily edited pitch including Lilly Singh, Josh Gad, Alex Rodriguez, Lyor Cohen and Mark Ronson, along with senior executives. While Brandcast in more normal times has often lasted 90 minutes or more, with an array of musical performances and thousands of attendees, this year’s virtual edition was far more economical.
The video heavyweight introduced YouTube Select, which it described as a “reimagination and unification” of the Google Preferred program and other efforts to make the platform viable for advertisers. While YouTube has continued to gain viewers, particularly during COVID-19, it also continues to contend with concerns on the part of some brands about where their messages could land. Some advertisers and agencies have had to withdraw from YouTube in recent years after their spots ran in front of objectionable content.
Allan Thygesen, president of the Americas for Google, rattled off stats about YouTube’s hold on viewers and ability to reach audiences watching less live, linear TV. It represents about 40% of all ad-supported streaming watch time, he said, and viewers are receptive to commercials, with 70% saying they bought from a brand after seeing it on YouTube.
“In YouTube’s 15 years, we’ve been inspired by so many iconic campaigns that grew brands and built businesses,” Thygesen said. “As your partner, it’s our commitment to help you do the same today as you navigate uncharted territories and solve new challenges. We’re all in this together.”
Another new ad offering is Brand Lift for both YouTube and the YouTube TV live bundle, which addresses growing streaming demand. It is a survey measurement tool optimized for the big screen and interactivity with a TV remote. That means viewers can more easily either respond or skip the survey, helping marketers to make informed decisions about ad performance and fine-tune streaming campaigns in real time.
CEO Susan Wojcicki kicked off the presentation with a two-minute video addressing COVID-19 and the racial upheaval across the country. “At YouTube, we believe Black Lives Matter,” she said. “We have always been a platform that celebrates a diverse set of voices. But we recognize we need to do more, in particular with the Black community.” She noted Google’s $100 million donation last month to COVID-19 relief organizations.
Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl highlighted several new originals coming to YouTube, with talent including Steph Curry, Demi Lovato and David Blaine. The company has pivoted away from scripted (its best-known scripted original, Cobra Kai, just moved to Netflix) and is doublng down on unscripted shows tapping into the passions of its more than 2 billion logged-in monthly users.
Here are YouTube Originals highlighted during Brandcast, with loglines provided by YouTube:
Untitled Demi Lovato Project — YouTube is partnering with Demi Lovato on a four-part docuseries, a follow up to the 2017 YouTube Originals documentary, Simply Complicated. The series will follow Lovato returning to show fans her personal and musical journey over the past three years. More details to be revealed soon. The series is directed by Michael D. Ratner and produced by OBB Pictures.
Instant Influencer with James Charles — Following the breakout first season, which hit over 53 million views in its first month alone, YouTube has ordered a second season of Instant Influencer with James Charles. In season one of YouTube’s first-ever beauty influencer competition series, contestants put their best makeup artistry, camera presence, and selling power on display for host, James Charles, and a mix of celebrity guest judges and well-seasoned beauty industry veterans including Norvina, Paris Hilton, and Trixie Mattel. The series is produced by Brian Graden Media.
The Creator Games Presented by MrBeast — On the heels of one of YouTube Originals’ most-watched live events to date, the platform has greenlit a second installment of The Creator Games Presented by MrBeast. This first-of-its-kind virtual livestream featured 32 of YouTube’s top creators including iJustine, Marques Brownlee and Jack Black. Hosted by MrBeast (37M Subscribers), the initial Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament raised over $1 million for COVID-19-related charitable organizations. The first installment of “The Creator Games Presented by MrBeast” was produced by Night Media and Fly on the Wall Productions.
Untitled Project With Markiplier — YouTube Originals has ordered another interactive special with YouTube Creator Markiplier (26M Subscribers). The new project follows the successful interactive special A Heist With Markiplier that allowed viewers to control their favorite YouTube Gamer’s life-or-death decisions in a classic museum heist and currently has over 18 million views. The interactive film is produced by Markiplier and Rooster Teeth Studios. Executive Producers Include Mark Fischbach, Matt Hullum, Will Hyde, and Ryan P. Hall
Retro Tech — YouTube Originals has ordered a second season of the Emmy-nominated series Retro Tech starring YouTube Creator Marques Brownlee (11.4M Subscribers). Each episode of the first season featured Marques examining a different nostalgic product – many of which he had never used – exploring the history, impact on society, and how each product defined pop culture and changed the world as we know it. In season two, Marques will explore the technological promises of the past. Futurists predicted that the tech of today would surround us with flying cars, robot maids, and teleportation. While some of these predictions are still sci-fi, others like mobile video calls, virtual reality, and even A.I. and quantum computers are quickly becoming a part of daily life. Marques will unravel these retro tech promises to see just how close we’ve come in 2020 and the direction revolutionary tech is headed next. “Retro Tech” is executive produced by Nick Budabin, Marty Moe and Chad Mumm for Vox Media Studios. Rachael Knudsen, Mark W. Olsen and Dana J. Olkkonen are co-executive producers for Vox Media Studios.
UHC: Ultimate Home Championship (Premieres June 26 on Stephen Curry’s YouTube channel) — Hosted by Stephen Curry, Ultimate Home Championship is a new virtual competition special that will feature notable YouTube creators, athletes and public figures including Von Miller, Lindsey Vonn, Ronda Rousey, DeAndre Jordan, Ryan García, The F2, Kristopher London, Katie Nolan, Ninja and Ego Nwodim. The competition, which is built around four, high-octane rounds of at-home events from a laundry hamper basketball to a DIY high jump, will raise funds for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund with viewers encouraged to donate directly on the “Ultimate Home Championship” watch page. View the trailer here. The special is executive produced by Stephen Curry, along with Unanimous Media and Portal A.
Lockdown (Premieres June 26 on YouTube Originals for Kids & Family Channel) — This new 10-episode scripted Kids & Families series follows six friends as they work together to solve a mystery in their neighborhood during the social distancing era. Shot entirely via webcam and smartphone from the actors’ homes and neighborhoods, Lockdown is among the first scripted live-action kids series to be fully developed and produced remotely, and received the Special Achievement Award for excellence in COVID-19 programming for Prix Jeunesse International, the global festival that every two years recognizes the best in children and youth television. The series is a suspenseful look at how young people stay in touch while having to stay away, and the story unfolds almost in real-time as the friend group works together – from a distance – to solve the mystery, while also exploring their own anxieties and frustrations about life during a pandemic. View the trailer here and press images here. “Lockdown” is created and produced by Toronto-based Sinking Ship Entertainment (Dino Dana, Endlings, Odd Squad).
Untitled David Blaine Live Event — As was announced earlier this year, David Blaine will be conjuring up a first-of-its-kind special event. The death-defying magician will partner with YouTube Originals for an unprecedented live event this fall. Usually known for his dark and mysterious stunts, this experience will be lighter and brighter than you have ever seen Blaine before.