FOUR trends in video culture that signal bigger shifts

At a glance, South Korean creator RuiCovery resembles any number of other creators who upload cover songs to YouTube. But one key difference sets her apart: Rui is played by an actor with an AI-generated face designed by the Seoul-based IT startup Dob Studio.

Rui’s success represents a moment of major change in technology, creativity, and culture — and AI is only one part of it. The shift caters to casual creators and those with advanced technical skills alike, resulting in more creative opportunities and new ways for audiences to engage with what they’re

YouTube creator Airrack guides viewers through the YouTube Culture and Trends Report, exploring new research, YouTube data, and creator interviews, unpacking the fan trends and technological advancements fueling a cultural shift in content creation and consumption.

To better understand the changing landscape of video creation and consumption, we looked at hundreds of video trends, spoke to creators and experts, and ran surveys across 14 countries. The resulting 2023 YouTube Culture and Trends Report will help marketers understand where video culture is today, where it’s headed, and how to win in this new digital environment.

Video Trend No. 1: Gen Z is blurring the line between creator and audience

The rise of online fan communities has had a massive impact on pop culture. In 2023, thanks to the availability of advanced tech tools, fans have a more active role in shaping culture than ever. Fandom is more layered, and it’s shifting not only how people experience and participate in video culture but how they perceive their role. A survey conducted by Ipsos in 14 countries reported that 41% of Gen Z describe themselves as video content creators.1 From meme makers to commentators to professional fans with dedicated followings, Gen Zers have an unprecedented opportunity to influence what they love. And it’s not just Gen Z: 40% of all respondents (online 18- to 44-year-olds) described themselves as video content creators.2

41% of Gen Z survey respondents described themselves as video content creators

Conversely, major industry moments can be opportunities for commentators and professional fans to contribute their original perspectives. Consider a fashion critic who covers the Met Gala. By adding insight through deep expertise and original perspectives, creators can draw many fans looking for deeper dives: 54% of surveyed people prefer to watch creators breaking down a major event (such as the Oscars or the Grammys) rather than the event itself.3

Brands tend to benefit from fan communities as well. Hundreds of fan-creators took to YouTube to post their own riffs on Burger King’s “Whopper, Whopper” ad. The memes and remixes drove over 100 million views on YouTube videos related to the song,4 an outpouring that was still going strong six months after the ad aired.

Campaigns using two or more video formats were more likely to see ad recall and brand awareness lift than those using only one.

Fitness creator Cassey Ho has built a community of 8.6 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, Blogilates, by sharing workout routines, running tips, Pilates videos, and more. Last year, she pivoted her content to Shorts, using the format to offer a more personal, behind-the-scenes look at her athleisure brand. Ho, who started her channel in 2009, gained more than half of her lifetime views since adopting the Shorts strategy at the beginning of 2022.6 Research suggests she’s not the only one seeing results: 90% of people surveyed said they have watched content from a particular creator or artist across different formats (such as short form, long form, podcasts, live streams) over the past 12 months.7

This shift in behaviour is great news for brands, which now have more ways to show up across all of the screens and formats where people are watching. Google AI-powered ad campaigns on YouTube, such as Video reach campaigns, help marketers create a mix of video ad formats to reach more viewers and drive better, more cost-efficient results. In fact, campaigns using two or more video formats were more likely to see ad recall and brand awareness lift than those using only one.8

Creators testing multi-language dubbed videos saw over 15% of their watch time come from views in the video’s nonprimary language.

Experiential features like closed captions and multi-language audio allow audiences to tailor their viewing experiences to their preferences. Creators are using captions in fresh ways: to add context, deliver inside jokes, or simply provide Easter eggs for interested viewers. Closed captions have also contributed to the rise of “silent vlogs,” which use subtitles to add commentary without interrupting the immersiveness of the video. Not only were users open to watching without sound, but videos with “silent vlog” in the title garnered 24 million views in 2022.10

Meanwhile, YouTube’s multi-language audio feature lets anyone upload different audio tracks to the same video. And for ads specifically, we’re experimenting with an AI-powered offering that can dub English video ads into nine languages, with more coming soon. The option opens up a new world of possibilities for creators, brands, and viewers hoping to reach wider audiences. The platform’s most subscribed individual creator, Mr. Beast, recently shared how he dubbed his most popular videos into 11 languages to cater to more of his international audience. Creators testing multi-language dubbed videos saw over 15% of their watch time come from views in the video’s nonprimary language.11

54% of surveyed people said they follow a creator who creates content in a language other than their own.
60% of audiences agree that they are open to watching content from creators who use AI to generate their content.

From creators with AI-generated avatars to moments driven by fan participation, video culture is moving toward an even more democratized landscape. And it’s moving fast. There is more appetite among viewers for interesting and envelope-pushing work, and more ways to make that work accessible to them across devices — even across language barriers. With fewer steps to get started and more venues for collaboration, creators, audiences, and brands have more opportunities to interact, shaping the future of digital video along the way.

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