Its Culture & Trends Report Details Divergent Formats, New Tools, Generative AI

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TikTok and Instagram are not the only platform players in the creator economy game, as YouTube was a force before those two were even established, and its U.S. rollout of short-form video option Shorts in March 2021 gave creators another option for content in that category.

YouTube released its YouTube Culture & Trends Report 2023, combining its analysis of hundreds of trends with the results of surveys that it conducted with market research and consulting company Ipsos among online users aged 18 through 44 in 14 countries.

The Google-owned video site wrote in the introduction to the report, “In 2022, we observed a major shift in pop culture, one that was driven less and less by viral moments with mass appeal. Instead, we found that creators and their viewers were prioritizing personally relevant content that reflected their unique interests.”

Much of that “personally relevant content” can be used in creator marketing campaigns that seek to emphasize and foster authentic, unique engagement between brands, creators and viewers.

The company added that its goal was to “better understand how creative tools are being used to offer new means of expression and produce moments that resonate in culture today.” 

YouTube pointed to the emergence of content consumption in multiple formats and on multiple devices, as well as new technologies and tools that democratize the creative process and allow casual users to thrive alongside established creators via processes such as generative artificial intelligence and remixing existing content. 

The company wrote, “As we all become amateur editors and special-effects artists, and generating riffs on popular film franchises takes hours rather than days, creating has become a pop-culture activity in itself,” noting that: 

  • 40% of respondents to its survey described themselves as video content creators. 
  • 82% have posted video content online over the past 12 months. 
  • 68% said they watch videos on topics of interest to them in multiple formats—livestreams, long-form, podcasts, short-form. 
  • 44% participated in a meme over the past 12 months. 

‘Fan’ Is Short for ‘Fanatic’ 

YouTube analyzed the different levels of fandom and how new formats and technology are helping to blur the lines between them, saying: 

  • Casual fans passively consume content related to their interests, including behind-the-scenes content and lore. 
  • More active fans use YouTube Shorts to create memes or interact with brands’ campaigns via remixing or playing off their content. 
  • The next level of fans looks to create content for other fans. 
  • Professional fans use their knowledge to create content for a more general audience. 

The company said 54% of respondents prefer to watch creators break down major events such as the Academy Awards or Grammy Awards than watching the actual events, while 47% of Generation Z respondents (18 through 24) have watched videos made by fans of specific artists, content, or public figures over the past 12 months. 

Short-Form Isn’t the Only Way to Go 

Creators and viewers are no longer confining themselves to short-form videos like Facebook and Instagram Reels, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts, with both adding livestreams, long-form fare and podcasts to their respective mixes. 

YouTube wrote, “As audiences seek out content across formats to fit their specific mood and need, creators are responding by diversifying their storytelling across those formats—reaching new fans and unlocking more opportunities to break through.”

This diversification provides more ways for brands and creators to tell their stories and get their messages across, without pigeonholing themselves into content with a hard time limit. 

The company said: 

  • 87% of respondents have watched at least four of the content formats offered by YouTube over the past 12 months. 
  • 71% of Gen-Z respondents enjoy the convenience of being able to watch different video formats on a single platform, while 67% like to see their favorite creators produce content in different formats. 

More in the Toolbox 

“In a world where creating is so easy and fun that it can be a form of entertainment itself, the breakthrough potential for an idea is increasingly tied to how effective it is at unlocking opportunities for viewers to add their own spin,” YouTube wrote, detailing tools that have recently emerged such as: 

  • Clipping tools that let viewers clip moments from longer videos, which can help a single video become a “larger phenomenon.” Livestreamers and podcasters use these features to post highlights of their longer-form work, while creators can focus on specific parts of brands’ longer-form marketing efforts. The platform said more than 14 million videos have been created each month in 2023 using its clipping feature. 
  • Remixing, or adding audio or video from one video to another, was described as “a frictionless way for people to contribute to culture,” and it was behind memes such as remixes of Burger King’s “Whopper Whopper” ad, which have been viewed over 100 million times so far this year. 
  • The company said 65% of Gen-Z respondents have used effects, features, or filters on video apps over the past 12 months to handle tasks from adding text to changing the entire look of a clip. 

AI Continues to Advance 

Finally, YouTube turned its attention to generative AI, noting that it is enabling more creators to engage in “complicated forms of self-expression.” One popular use that has emerged is creators reimagining popular films made by different directors, and there are countless ways for the technology to be incorporated into creator marketing campaigns.

The company wrote, “The speed and quality of AI-supported creativity can result in a diversity of executions that can be consumed alone, but really exist in dialogue with one another,” adding: 

  • 60% of respondents are open to watching content from creators who use AI to generate it. 
  • There have been over 1.7 billion views of videos related to or using generative AI tools thus far this year. 
  • 52% of respondents have watched a VTuber (virtual YouTuber or influencer) over the past 12 months. 

YouTube concluded, “The speed, volume, and variety of all this change can be disconcerting—there are more formats to follow, more ways to express fandom, more content to consume, and more technologies adding ever more variables to the mix. But all this ‘more’ also means more opportunities to break through.” 

Open Influence’s team stays on top of the trends and is here to make sure you make the most of your creator marketing campaigns. Open Influence is a global creator marketing agency dedicated to creating compelling campaigns that utilize all the latest features. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today!

Credit for image in header: YoGinta/iStock.

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