Billie Eilish, Roger Goodell and AI Talk

If there's been one consistent message from YouTube over the past few years, it's been built around its vast ecosystem of creators. More recently, it's added artificial intelligence, with the Google-owned video platform rolling out generative AI tools for creators and advertising partners.

So it's no shock that creators and AI were two of the hot topics of conversation at YouTube's annual Brand Cast Up Front event on Wednesday evening.

And while there were plenty of other surprises (performances by Billie Eilish and Phineas, and K-pop stars Stray Kids; a deal to stream WNBA games on YouTube TV; and a surprise appearance by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell), The creators, as always, were the focus of the show.

To that end, YouTube announced a new ad product called “Select Creator Takeovers,” which “will allow brands to partner with top creators to own 100 percent of the voice on their channel.”

“Creators are drawing audiences to the big screen because they're new to Hollywood,” YouTube CEO Neil Mohan told the crowd. The Hollywood Reporter The op-ed argues that creators should be eligible for Emmy Awards. “They have business strategies, writers' rooms and production teams. They're reimagining classic TV genres, from morning shows to sports commentary. And they're inventing brand new ones! You tonight.” Will see more about that. Along the way, creators are redefining what we think of as 'TV.' It's about time a creator won an Emmy.

The platform featured popular creators like Zach King, Haley Kalil, Valkyrae and Ryan Trahan on how the platform built their following and gave them careers.

But YouTube's well-established TV reach had a lot going for it. And this time, it's adding AI. The company announced “Video Rich Campaigns Non-Skips”, which will be an “AI-powered format” designed for TV sets. And yes, it cannot be skipped.

“Google AI has been at the heart of our advertising solutions for years,” said Sean Downey, president, Americas and Global Partners for Google. “As we grow, our ability to help brands drive ROI continues to improve.”

AI-optimized ad campaigns were nearly four times more effective than manually optimized campaigns, the platform said.

YouTube has also introduced a new branded QR code option, to enable easier and more customized purchases.

As for the WNBA deal, it's a deal between Google and Scripps Sports, which has some local rights to the WNBA. YouTube TV will make 30 local WNBA games available in its base plan (of course it will have WNBA games available via both CBS and ESPN).

And for the second year in a row, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took the stage, where he praised YouTube's “flawless” first year of NFL Sunday Ticket.

“They were wonderful partners. They always have been and we look forward to a long relationship, but they really brought the game to our fans in a different way,” Goodell told the crowd, including former NFL star Also in attendance was Shannon Sharp, the creator of YouTube.

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