Platforms like YouTube have had to address criticisms about how they elevate hateful content and how the companies handle racial justice issues internally. Just this week, Google workers petitioned the company to stop contracting with law enforcement organizations.
YouTube used Brandcast as a moment to reflect on part of its corporate responsibility to elevate more Black voices. YouTube executives re-stated how YouTube will spend $100 million to support Black creators.
YouTube also announced new original shows with creators like Marques Brownlee, James Charles, Markiplier and MrBeast. It has new programs with Demi Lovato, and it showed a trailer for a new show from illusionist David Blaine, who hinted that his next trick would involve jumping out of a plane for YouTube.
Brandcast was also a moment for YouTube to hone its sales pitch to brands and show off new video programs.
Robert Kyncl, YouTube's chief business officer, said that the company was torn between holding Brandcast this year, given all the hardships. “We've debated whether to do Brandcast or not,” said Kyncl, during a phone call ahead of Brandcast. “Obviously we cannot do it in person.”
In the end, YouTube decided that it would be a way to offer a video presentation, which is the natural environment for a video platform with 2 billion monthly viewers.
“Over the last year our tagline was 'primetime is personal,'” Kyncl said. “We then realized personalization is really what we're all about and that we should lean into it even more.”
The Brandcast videos were tailored to fit the viewers, who answered questionnaires to help shape the content they received. For instance, viewers could tell YouTube their favorite artist was Toni Watson, and the “Dance Monkey” singer who gained fame on YouTube would appear in the Brandcast video
YouTube also discussed YouTube Select in the video. YouTube Select is a premium tier of video reserved for advertisers who make upfront deals—agreements with brands who commit to spend a certain threshold. Advertisers are looking for digital video offerings that can approximate TV, and that's where YouTube has been pushing the hardest.
In recent months, YouTube has boasted an audience that is growing in the living room. YouTube claims to reach 100 million people a month who stream its content to TV sets.
YouTube Select is an evolution of Google Preferred, which was another premium digital video selection reserved for big-spending brands.
Allan Thygesen, Google's president of the Americas, said in the Brandcast video that YouTube Select was conceived as a product after hearing feedback from advertisers. Brands want assurances about appearing in quality videos.
“We're always looking for ways to better help you connect with these audiences,” Thygesen said. “Based on [advertiser] feedback we've re-imagined Google Preferred to a new upfront solution called YouTube Select that has even more quality content and more capabilities for the TV screen.”