As Others Pitch Their Original Content, YouTube Sells Its Massive Millennial Reach

Google says visits are up 40% and ads are twice as effective

As most of tech's top media companies pitch their big new content ideas this week, YouTube decided to go another route: selling advertisers on its young and passionate audience.

The Google-owned video giant brought out vlogging stars like Grace Helbig, Justine Ezarik (iJustine) and John Green for its annual Digital Content NewFront presentation Wednesday night. And for the first time, YouTube also opened the door to hundreds of its content creators' fans, a smart move that helped advertisers see and hear the audience's enthusiasm.

YouTube's NewFront was definitely a break from the norm, with most competitors using the event to roll out new programming or exclusive deals, such as Hulu's Seinfeld rerun coup or AOL's wide-ranging slate of original shows.

"Millennials actually want to hear from you (brands) on YouTube," said Robert Kyncl, head of content and business operations for YouTube. "They are nearly twice as likely to prefer watching your ad on our platform than anywhere else."

Featured alongside YouTube's famous faces were content-heavy companies like BuzzFeed and Universal Pictures. There was also plenty of dazzle, with YouTube treated the audience to a performance of Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, as well as Nothing Without Love by Nate Ruess, musicians who have all found viral success on the platform.  

Several of the guests used their stage time to give inspirational talks about the impact YouTube has had on their professional lives and why they believe it's the right platform for digital ad dollars.

"Because people come to my channel specifically to watch videos, your ad will resonate a whole lot more because they are engaged," comedian Grace Helbig explained. "How do I know this? Well, in the last year, I've experienced first-hand how my engaged fan community drives sales. My fans made my book No. 1 on The New York Times best seller list. My podcast debuted at No. 1 on iTunes. They went to Netflix to watch my movie, Camp Takota. And thousands came to over 20 cities to watch my #NoFilter comedy tour with my best friends Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart. It was all very humbling."

YouTube also sprinkled a few stats throughout the presentation, perfect for media buyers to take back to their clients. YouTube proclaimed that its number of visitors has increased more than 40 percent year-over-year and it serves more viewers between the ages of 18 to 49 on mobile than any cable network.

The video hub's afterparty came complete with bite-sized snacks made from YouTube influencer recipes and a surprise DJ performance from Snoop Dogg, who has had quite a successful run on the platform with more than 1.2 million subscribers on his westfestTV channel.