Digital Journeys II: The Beating Heart of YouTube

| 16 Jul, 2014

Founded in 2005, YouTube is the home of video sharing and ultimately 'User Generated Content'. Chris Bailes, YouTube & Display Industry Manager, focuses on how the largest video platform in the world has gone 'Back to the Future', from UGC to broadcasters to the YouTube stars you need to know.

My name's Chris. I work at YouTube. When I saw myself billed as the 'Beating Heart of YouTube,' I was a little bit nervous to be honest. It's probably the last thing I'd describe myself. I've been at YouTube for about a year and a half and have about seven and a half years agency experience before that. Here today we're just going to talk to you about Back to the Future with YouTube and what that stands for. Firstly, we'll kick off with this.

[The Bus Stop video with Photoshop artist Erik Johansson is shown from 0:00:32 to 0:02:49.]

So absolutely nothing to do with Back to the Future, I'm sure you agree, but a really, really cool advert for something that's probably pretty boring, Adobe. The Adobe client's not here, are they? They'll leave if that's the case. But, yes, something that's pretty boring to be honest. The reason I wanted to show that is because one of the biggest questions we always get asked is, 'Yes, Chris, I know you're a YouTube expert but how do you find out all these cool videos?' You guys can do all that as well and probably be better than me. Go to and that's where you'll find out videos like that. That was the most viewed video in the U.K. as of about two days ago now. It had 15 million views in a couple of days. That, for an advert, firstly just shows the power of YouTube but I also just wanted to highlight YouTube trends to you. So get involved and take a look at it.

Three things I want to cover today. Firstly, looking back – hopefully you can all see what I've done here, weaved in the theme to the slide; maybe I'll get some points for that - so Back to the Future, back to the YouTube you think you know. This is the YouTube that, coming from agency side, I thought I knew. I thought, 'Yep, dogs on skateboards, cats in bins - illegal, but thoughts about that.' And probably I would have gone absolutely nowhere near it. We're going to cover that though because there's some funny content there.

We're also going to have a look at the YouTube you say you want. This is the stuff that your agencies and you as clients actually tell us that you want, and that's the core, that's the premium stuff. We'll have a quick look at that as well.

Then we're going to look at the future, so the YouTube you actually need to know and the YouTube you need to engage with.

First things first, to look at the future and to know where we're actually going, you need to look at where it all started.

[Video shown from 0:04:32 to 0:04:50]

That is all there is to say. Does anyone know what that video is?

Audience member: Is that Chad Hurley?

Chris: Yes, it's actually Jawed, that's the name he goes under. It's the first ever video uploaded to YouTube, which I think was where you're going to. April...

Audience member: He was the founder?

Chris: Yes. Absolutely. He's the founder. And who would have thought the founder would be talking about elephants' trunks being long and cool. The guy's just invented YouTube and he's a multi-billionaire. Maybe there's hope for me yet. Still, the first ever video on YouTube. I kind of want to use him as a theme today because this is his channel on YouTube. Let's have one think of it. Pretty good? Shocking. Hopefully you've all got better channels than this. I know I have. It's shocking, but there are two videos on here and the last video we'll show you a little bit later on.

This is the whole idea of Back to the Future. He is the epitome of me for YouTube and Back to the Future because his first ever video was 'Me at the Zoo.' It kind of sums up YouTube as we started off. It's all about user- generated content. It's all about videos. And how we're moving forward is from video to channels. So think what Google has done for the web in terms of organizing the web, that's what YouTube has tried to do for video. We'll take you on that journey.

Let's look at, now, the YouTube you think you know.

[Video clips from 0:6:09 to 0:07:00.]

So the YouTube you think you know. There are some funny bits and some cool bits in there that I'm sure you'll all enjoy. We need to acknowledge that. We need to acknowledge that that's the beating heart of YouTube, that's what it's all about. It still all is about that and the actual centre and integral part of YouTube.

The reason why we love it and the reason why it's cool is firstly it's authentic. Okay, so Felix's jump from 128,000 feet above Earth. It was authentic. And Red Bull have got straight on the back of that and actually embraced everything that is extreme. Well, not everything, but hopefully most stuff that is extreme. The idea of extreme sports and extreme beings, they've embraced everything about that and YouTube actually loves that.

Secondly, it's unique. The 'Ice Dude', as he's known as if you want to go and check that clip about again. I cringe every time I see it, but it's unique in the sense that what other idiot would go and, firstly, do that and secondly, put it up on YouTube, and then also get 25 million views off the back of it. It's truly, truly unique.

It's also really unpredictable. Who would have thought a guy walking his dog in Richmond Park would then go truly viral, so viral that, ladies and gentlemen, he's got T-shirts named with Fenton on the front with Jesus Christ. It's truly unpredictable. And 9 million views within a couple of days of that video actually surfacing is pretty phenomenal.

So that's looking back. That's the YouTube we need to acknowledge and that's the YouTube probably some of you, maybe all of you, will think, 'Yes, that's the YouTube I know.'

Let's now look forward. Let's look forward to the YouTube that you're kind of asking us for. Again, when I was agency-side, I wouldn't have put a lot of stuff on YouTube because I thought, 'Right. It's all going to be around this. It's going to be about, around a bit of Rick Astley or something that I don't want to see that's gone viral and my client will go absolutely berserk. No matter how cheap it is, they'll go berserk.' We listened and we thought, 'Okay. Well, they've got all this premium content as well.' Let's start talking about that.

[Video from 0:09:01 to 0:10:13.]

So that's the premium stuff that you guys as clients and agencies are telling us they want to be around. There's absolutely loads of it. Mister Maker may be not my idea of premium, but still it's premium quality as in it's broadcast quality and it's what we're being asked for. What makes it so good?

Firstly, it's well known. BBC is probably the only place on the internet that you can advertise around content on YouTube. We have the rights to that. You can advertise around BBC World Wide content and the Top Gear channel, probably one of the biggest channels that we actually have.

It's professional as well. Heston Blumenthal popping out of a dish he's just made is professionally-produced content. It's not some geezer with a wobbly little hand camera or anything, it's HD quality, it's professionally produced and it's broadcast quality so it's really trustworthy. It's an environment you want to be around, so it's safe and it's what you know.

Also, it's controlled. It's controlled in the sense that you know exactly what you're going to get. Even down to Britain's Got Talent. I didn't see it this weekend but did everyone see the judges get egged? Okay. So if you go and try and search for that video now, only the official one will eventually be allowed on YouTube. It's controlled content. It's not just going to be somebody getting up there and showing that.

Now we need to look to the future. This for me, when I started at YouTube, I wanted to know what was all the new stuff that was coming through. These are the YouTube stars, okay? These are the guys who, they started at day one on YouTube, blogging, just doing stuff in their bedroom, filming makeup tips and everything else. Now these guys are truly YouTube stars. Let's take a look at them.

[Video from 0:11:55 to 0:13:26.]

So that's the YouTube you need to engage with for three really, really simple reasons. This is why we love it and this is why we're championing it and getting behind it at YouTube.

Firstly, it's original. You won't see this content elsewhere and this stuff is made purely for web. It's made for YouTube. It's made in snackable sizes and stuff that people want to hear and see. The Sorted Food guys, you would have seen a clip from those. They were the boys putting together a breakfast burrito. Four guys out of uni, really, really passionate about cooking and they're doing really, really different stuff with food so they're cross-pollinating with other YouTube stars who, like the Epic Meals guys if you've heard of them, all are helping each other make each other famous on YouTube. Their content's really originally as well. They have things like a fridge cam, which is like the best of all the food content across YouTube and across the web, doing stuff really, really differently and stuff that you wouldn't, you definitely wouldn't find on terrestrial TV.

It's also consistent. Picture a Tanya Burr. Tanya Burr, if you haven't heard of her go and Google her, go and search for her on YouTube. She's a YouTube star, has over 1 million followers. And her big thing is star hauling and makeup tips and fashion tips. But what's consistent about her is she updates daily. She uploads daily, and it's great quality content. It's not just her and her mate with a camera, it's HD quality content and it's consistent in terms of its structure and in terms of the amount of time she's actually uploading the content. Her fans know what they're going to get.

Lastly it's collaborative. You would have seen Jamie Oliver on there. You'd have also seen Simon Cowell on there. These guys, believe it or not, aren't really YouTube stars and they needed to get embraced by the YouTube community. What Jamie's done is quite a good story, actually. He's gone and basically started collaborating with the likes of Sorted Food, with Epic Meal Time, even with Simon Cowell and his new talent show that's on there to actually get the subscribers up. These guys are very, very clever. If you think of it in TV terms, at the end of a Channel 4 show, you'll always see, or 9 out of 10 times, you'll see: 'Next on More 4 is this. Next on E-4 is this. Next on Film-4 is this.' That, in a nutshell, is what these guys are doing but on YouTube, keeping you in the YouTube environment. And they're very good at doing it and they're very good at driving subscribers with it.

So what does success look like on YouTube? Well, we talk about the four C's of Creation, Community, Curation and Connection. I could talk about this for a long time, but I'm going to give you four examples of what I think is good and what we think is good with these four C's.

Firstly, creation. I'm talking quite a bit about makeup and beauty today, so apologies to the guys in here. I haven't taken any tips from these girls, but Pixiwoo are two sisters from Norwich who set up, basically, makeup tutorials and they do really well at it. They've got over 1.3 million subscribers. That's pretty massive. They're British, doing really well for themselves and they film daily and weekly. What they've done is created... They knew that there was a load of how-to videos on YouTube. How-to videos are hugely, hugely popular. What these guys have done, basically, is just done the same thing but with how-to with makeup tips. It's paid off and it's doing very, very well. It's a great form of creation, actually just looking at what's big on YouTube and making it your own.

Secondly, community. I mentioned Simon Cowell and you would have seen a clip on him on the YouTube You Need to Know stuff. If anyone hasn't heard of The You Generation, go and have a look and see what it's all about. It's basically Britain's Got Talent but for YouTube. So what Si-Co and the whole production team realised was that there's this whole wealth of untapped talent on YouTube. There are amazing chefs, there are amazing comedians, there are amazing makeup artists, and nobody's really kind of surfacing. There are a few that are surfacing like Pixiwoo and Tanya Burr and those sort of guys, but nobody's surfacing the rest of the talent. What he's gone and done is started up this whole You Generation, which is, like I said, Britain's Got Talent. They have competitions on a monthly basis whereby you can go and... The other week we had YouTube comedy week and they would go and search for the best comedian. It's all voted for online across YouTube. He's created, in a sense, this whole community of bringing these talents together. It's very, very clever and obviously he'll use that, no doubt, to line his own pocket at some point. Even still, it's a great sense of community there.

Curation. Who's familiar with the Fenton and the Everything Everywhere ad? It's probably one of the smartest creations that we saw last year. Curation, for me, is very, very simple here. They've taken something that is brilliant and loved on YouTube and just made it even better and more epic and we're going to talk about that later.

Lastly, connection. Think about what Pixiwoo's done for makeup, Samsung just looked at Unboxing. How many here have seen Unboxing on YouTube. It's crazy, absolutely crazy format. For those of you haven't, it's literally me getting home with my new Samsung S4, getting Harry to video me - I don't live with Harry, by the way - but getting Harry to video me, he's the mobile expert, un boxing my Samsung. It's ridiculous. People will tune in in their thousands and in Samsung's case, it's in their millions. All Samsung did was a lot of Unboxing of the brand new phone before anyone could have it. It's a really, really smart idea. Again, all they've done is taken something that's massive on YouTube, they've understood the YouTube community and they've used it to their own benefits.

Another thing, what makes audiences on YouTube? Who are the big audiences on YouTube? Taking it back to, I guess, Back to the Future, thinking about, again my agency days: 'YouTube. Right. Brilliant. If I've got a young ad to audience, I'll throw money at YouTube. It'll work. Because that's where all the young ads are, that's where all the kids are.'

Categorically not the case. If you start benchmarking us next to - I will say who it is, I wasn't going to say who it is - 4OD... And again we're not here to slag off broadcast or anything, broadcast is an absolute essential part of your plan especially if you're doing TV, you should be using 4OD and But in terms of the reach, the point I want to make here is firstly housewives. You can see where YouTube's reach is 6% on 4OD versus 61% with YouTube. These guys are great in terms of getting your premium programming, your broadcast-quality programming. You don't want to just be using YouTube to get that, use those guys to get it as well because they've got it absolutely sewn up. What you need to use YouTube for is your additional reach, again, in this really, really quality, premium environment I've been showing you.

So, Back to the Future, keeping with the theme, some simple lessons. Firstly I want to talk about speed. The DeLorean went pretty bloody fast when I was a kid - 88 miles an hour - and even though it's not fast now, it's still breaking the national law, so we'll say it went fast, okay? I want to show you a couple of videos around speed.

[Video from 0:20:36 to 21:34.]

The original roller babies advert from back in July of 2009. It doesn't seem that long ago, but it was. The brand new one.

[Video from 0:21:43 to 0:22:56.]

I don't know if anyone paid attention to the number of views they've had at the bottom there, but it's quite phenomenal. The speed of change is massive on YouTube. The point I want to make here is we don't have the luxury of time anymore. One big rule that we have at YouTube and at Google is about testing and iterating, testing and learning, so get your content onto YouTube as soon as possible and get the comments back and see what's good. Evian absolutely nailed it again with great music, great content. They've really, really done well. But the amount of views coming from mobile - 1 in 4 - have certainly driven the whole, the actual pace of YouTube.

What this chart's going to actually show you is - take your attention to the blue line here - that's looking at the first one, the first ever Evian babies video that we watched. This is basically just showing how many days, both of these videos, the red versus the blue, took to get to 30 million views. The original one took 200 days to get to 30 million views. The one that we just saw took 5 days to get to 30 million views. It makes you think: if somebody like Psy with his Gangnam Style was released 3 years ago, would that have been the success that it is now with everyone using YouTube on their mobile and their tablet and so on and so forth and the ease of actually sharing it? Because we've changed a lot to make stuff, videos to be shared as well.

It's a really, really good point just to take away and use Evian as an example to take back to your colleagues and to your friends. Not to your friends actually, that'd be really boring, just to your colleagues.

Second lesson from Back to the Future, the cool stuff. The cool stuff for me was the hover board. It's still never been made but I know Greg referenced it earlier. It is bloody cool. So what cool stuff can you do on YouTube? What cool stuff should you be doing? Now I've talked a little bit about makeup, fashion and beauty today so I only thought it's fair that I should do something for the guys as well.

[Video from 0:24:55 to 0:25:46.]

All they've done is stuck annotations around their content, which is free to do. Speak to your creative, speak to your agency or you can do it yourself. Now, thanks to the annotations I'm literally one click away from the mystifying cinch bandeau bra top that I've been after. $87. It's a bargain. I'm literally two click away from that, and it's a really, really smart way. Annotations have been free now for a good few months on YouTube. We don't see that many people taking them up or actually blending it in, so I appreciate creative... People normally say, 'Creative's really expensive to make a separate creative for online.' But Duty could have had that as a TV advert. That's a cracking TV advert, and all they've done, just to make it great for online, is stick external annotations on it. You can have this linking through to anywhere. You don't have to have a transactional site. You can have it linking through to your Facebook and to your Twitter and so on and so forth. That's enough of swimsuits and bras. Let's get back to the real stuff.

[Video from 0:26:56 to 0:28:00.]

So I mention that as advertising excellence from EE. And it was, for the simple reason again, I mentioned before, they've taken something that's a phenomenon on YouTube and then just repurposed it, obviously with their permission, but repurposed it and taken it into the whole world of 4G, making it, showing how fast 4G is, how accurate, and what a beautiful user experience it will give you. Again, playing back to where we looked before, you'll see there are annotations again, so this is just an example of what we call internal annotations, which again are free. We don't have to set you up on these ones, you can simply do it yourself. All they're doing here is just linking back to the EE site, so where they can get EE. Again, it's just keeping users in that user experience.

Lastly, collaboration. Collaboration, everyone knows the DeLorean or I hope they do, anyone who's old enough to know the DeLorean, but you could basically put any old shit into the back of it and it would go, which is probably pretty good at the time but now not the case. When we talk about collaboration, I'll quote Larry Page. One of the first times I ever saw Larry Page speak was at a conference in London and he talked about YouTube and Google being an open network, and his words were basically: 'When a network starts closing or if one of our colleagues starts closing their network down, it really, really stalls innovation.' That's something that I know the owners of Google and YouTube certainly don't want to do, so it's something that we're quite proud of, that we will work with Facebook, we will work with Twitter. I wanted to give you a couple of examples of collaboration along the lines of the examples I've shown you today.

Firstly, Twitter. If you go on to the Evian channel where you'll find the fantastic babies ad I just showed you, you can go and check out... It's basically a custom gadget on there, and all they've done is pull in their Twitter feed. And obviously it's all automated and stuff. They'll check nobody's saying anything bad, but it's quite simply all they've done is just put their Twitter feed at the bottom. It's a really, really smart way of integrating Twitter with YouTube. We absolutely allow that. It would be the same with Facebook. We encourage it almost. We know we're not Twitter, we know we're not Facebook, but we have our place in terms of video and so that's why we're working with them. All these guys were doing was Tweeting about the ad - and I can't believe I've done this actually - but they're actually Tweeting about this, the Baby and Me. I thought I'd try and do a Baby and Me just to see if it works, and clearly there are a few technical issues with that image, but... Don't ask. But all they've done is just allowed people to basically tweet via their YouTube.

Secondly, who's heard of Chris Hadfield. Brilliant. One in the back. Normally everyone's, 'Nope. Haven't heard of him.' I hadn't heard of him, to be fair. He's an astronaut on the International Space Station, or was anyway. He's come back down to earth now, luckily not with a bang. He's basically a bit of a superstar on Twitter, so much so he's got almost 1 million followers. But what he started doing was releasing videos, started releasing videos of him in space and in the space station, basically all the cool stuff that people want to see. He knew, obviously, that he couldn't do that just via vine because it would probably take him 6 seconds just to set up the camera before he's done anything, so he started putting it on YouTube. But again, something that we could have collaborated more on because his videos now on YouTube have just started to get some traction. Again, another example of people cross-pollinating what they're doing.

What do I mean by Back to the Future? Well, quite simply Back to the Future is looking at Jawed's channel again. Like I said, there were two videos on there, okay? We need to look backwards, so look at user-generated content, look at the heart of what YouTube's all about, in order to look forward. The weird thing, the only two videos he's posted on there was 'Me at the Zoo', the UGC one that everyone's raving about, and secondly the 'Space Oddity' video. And I'll just play that for you.

[Video from 0:32:10 to 0:34:18.]

The point that Jawed makes as one of the founders of YouTube, he posts it and then puts 'So awesome. Who needs TV anymore?' I certainly wouldn't go that far, saying who needs TV anymore, but just quite poignant I think in terms of looking Back to the Future, the only two videos that he's got on his site. So I'll leave you with that.

Thank you very much for your time.

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