Yesterday, on the Hudson River, YouTube held its annual “NewFront” event to a group of fat-pocketed advertising partners. YouTube’s event kicked off the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s 2023 NewFronts week, which occurs from May 1 to 4. The week brings together the biggest consumer brands, like Adobe and Unilever, and platforms including YouTube, Snap, Meta and TikTok, who present their innovations and suite of ad offerings. It consists of four days of presentations like YouTube’s, parties and networking—all with the purpose of connecting platform and brand executives to help guide brand budgets.
During YouTube’s various presentations, however, one main message was made clear; YouTube is the new home of Gen Z.
“Gen Z comes to YouTube for the creators, and the authentic connection that they have with them,” Youshaei said during his talk, echoing the text behind him.
While Gen Z is closely associated with TikTok, YouTube, which is now 17 years old, is a big part of this generation’s lives too, the company said, wielding statistics from proprietary studies to prove the point. Researchers found that 65% of Gen Z YouTube viewers agree that they would “miss out on a lot” if it wasn’t for YouTube; 73% of Gen Z YouTube viewers say the platform is the best place to get a variety of opinions on a topic.
YouTube Shorts, the short-form video product that’s positioned as a rival to TikTok, was front-and-centre. YouTube announced that advertisers can now make “awareness” and “reach” the goals of their Shorts campaigns, and highlighted work with Adobe and Unilever.
“I do think it’s kind of funny that we’re already referring to traditional YouTube video as long-form, because shorts are actually in the DNA of YouTube,” said Google’s VP of U.S. Agency & Brand Solutions Kristen O’Hara in her presentation called The Long & Shorts of YouTube.
Former Instagram product marketer Jon Youshaei also held a presentation called “What Matters to Gen-Z” in which he walked through his career: transitioning from product marketing manager at Instagram to a full-time creator, and enlisting his pregnant wife to quit her job and join him. “The number one thing that gives me confidence to bet my business, bet my career, and in so many senses, my family is that YouTube is the platform and the home for Gen Z and the next generation of viewers,” he said. “You can take it from me, I’ve worked at multiple platforms, and upload to every single platform.”
With Snap’s NewFront scheduled for Tuesday, Meta presenting on Thursday and TikTok’s on Friday (though TikTok’s event is closed to press), it will be interesting to see how the rivals use these big budget events to grab lure advertisers, and whether they, too, will fish for ad dime using Gen Z.