VidCon took place at the weekend, with more than 20,000 fans of online video descending upon the Anaheim Convention Centre for three days of celebrating the streaming world. Between the cheering crowds and influential creators, though, the star of the event was YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki, who delivered a keynote speech that provided a useful snapshot of the site’s currently plans – especially as Facebook continues to build its rival video platform.
We may have been stuck over in the UK instead of flying across the Atlantic, but here are three things that we learned from VidCon:
1. Mobile is key to YouTube’s success
More than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices, so YouTube has taken the logical step and updated its mobile app with new features for both viewers and creators, including the ability to watch vertical videos in full-screen and edit videos on the go before uploading them. Read more here.
2. Virtual reality is a thing
Virtual Reality is actually coming to YouTube. The site teased the world with a tweet during VidCon revealing their plans to introduce VR videos. The technology, though, is a natural step for the site, thanks to its innovations in recent years, which include both 3D support and 360-degree videos.
How will people watch VR YouTube videos? Google Cardboard appears to be on the company’s mind, judging by the picture attached to its tweet. What is Google Cardboard? It’s a nifty little device that allows viewers to get a basic experience of VR through a cheap, simple viewer.
Assembled from – you guessed it – cardboard, the eyeset supports phones with screens up to 6 inches and can be put together from scratch (using cardboard, lenses, magnets and stuff to hold it all together) or folded together from a pre-made kit. They cost around £20 online, a darn sight cheaper than Oculus Rift.
3. Facebook is coming – and YouTube is up for the fight
While YouTube has dominated VidCon for a long time now, Facebook is undoubtedly coming for the site’s crown.
The social network recently announced that it would begin testing a new “suggested videos” service, which would share over half of its ad revenues from those videos with their publishers – the first steps towards the site generating income for creators.
The industry and vloggers are already starting to take Facebook more seriously as an alternative.
“The volume is growing, It’s (video views) now in the billions per day,” Jim Lanzone, CEO of CBS’s digital division, told USA Today. “[Facebook is] a big platform. We’re all trying to figure out how to play with it.”
But Wojcicki made it clear that the streaming king is ready to fight to keep their creators.
“As more [sites] enter the space, creators will try different things, but they’ll come back to the place that generates the most success for them,” she said during her Q&A.
“YouTube succeeds only if you, our creators, succeed,” she added. “You’re the reason that we’re all here today; you’re the reason that VidCon exists in the first place.”
To emphasise YouTube’s commitment to supporting its creators, she also announced the creation of two new YouTube Spaces in Toronto and Mumbai, which will open in the coming 12 months.