Inside the fancy YouTube event with screaming teens and big-name performers that’s designed to steal TV ad dollars

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Jillian D’Onfro / Business Insider

The ninth annual Digital NewFronts, a conference for marketers, is going on in New York City this week and next.

A bunch of companies like AOL and Refinery29 put on events during the conference, including YouTube, which always holds a giant bash called Brandcast where it trots out some of the site’s biggest stars and tries to convince advertisers that they need to spend less money on TV, and more on digital video.

As one fellow attendee put it, of all the Newfronts parties, YouTube’s is the one to attend.

Check out why:


To enter the event, you had to walk down a red carpet flanked by a crowd of screaming teens.

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Jillian D’Onfro / Business Insider

They weren’t shrieking for the YouTube execs or the bigwig advertisers, though. A gaggle of YouTube stars traipsed up and down the line, taking selfies and signing autographs.

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Jillian D’Onfro / Business Insider

The message was loud and clear to advertisers: Young people are obsessed with YouTube stars. During its presentation, YouTube quoted a Variety story that reported that 8 of the top 10 most popular and influential celebrities are YouTube stars for US teens.

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Jillian D’Onfro / Business Insider

There was a big line to get in. In total, over 2,700 people attended Brandcast and the Javits Center auditorium where it took place was at 100% capacity.

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Jillian D’Onfro / Business Insider

Google spent a big portion of the event attacking TV: CEO Susan Wojcicki said that YouTube reaches more 18-49 year olds during primetime than the top 10 TV shows combined, according to a Nielsen study it commissioned.

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FilmMagic for YouTube

YouTube star Lilly Singh led the event, and she too made a blunt bid to advertisers: “Gone are the days of ‘testing’ this platform. That is soooo 2013. YouTube is proven and the audience is here. I hope you are too.”

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FilmMagic for YouTube

The company trotted out a bunch of other performers and execs, like Big Bird, who appeared as part of an announcement that Sesame Studios was making a new YouTube channel.

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FilmMagic for YouTube

And Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA, who said that it reached a new deal with YouTube to make all its videos available on Google’s “Preferred” ad network.

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FilmMagic for YouTube

There were also performances by several dance groups …

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FilmMagic for YouTube

Including a bunch of dudes dancing on hover boards

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FilmMagic for YouTube

And the YouTube star Andra Day.

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FilmMagic for YouTube

Silentó, who rocketed to fame last year with his viral song “Watch Me,” also showed up.

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FilmMagic for YouTube

His act came as part of YouTube’s introduction of a new ad product that lets brands programmatically buy slots on the site’s hottest and fastest-rising videos.


At one point, the auditorium’s fire alarm system went off, apparently because there was so much fog on stage. We managed to make it through the glitter bombs at the end though without any issues.

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FilmMagic for YouTube

Here was the best joke we saw about the unexpected interruption:


After the flashy presentation, YouTube had several of its celebrity chefs serve up dinner for the crowd.

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Jillian D’Onfro / Business Insider

Snacks included fried chicken steamed buns and udon noodles.

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FilmMagic for YouTube

Different YouTubers also set up stations, like this one, where attendees could decorate their own cupcakes.

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FilmMagic for YouTube

And of course the several bars were super crowded.

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Business Insider / Jillian D’Onfro

The night ended with a performance by the Australian singer Sia, who was joined by dancer Maddie Ziegler.

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FilmMagic for YouTube

The set included hits like Chandelier and Elastic Heart.

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FilmMagic for YouTube