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YouTube wants to assure companies it can provide brand-safe environments for their ads — and it's willing to spend to prove it.
The company spared no expense at Brandcast, its annual event for advertisers. This year, the spectacle was held at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Thursday. Around 4,200 people attended the event, which not only showed off YouTube's widespread content but its parent company's wealth. Alphabet, which includes YouTube as part of its Google business unit, had a free cash flow of $4.34 billion last quarter, according to its latest quarterly report.
The video service now has 1.8 billion logged in monthly users according YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, showing off the scale and amount of data it can obtain. The company is hoping it can convince brands to part with more of their advertising budgets earmarked for television, especially with new ad products that let companies buy ads for audiences that watch YouTube on TVs.
Wojcicki addressed on-going controversies about brand-safe content on YouTube, pointing out the company has enlisted human reviewers for its top advertising program Google Preferred. Google will also hire more than 10,000 people across the company to look for inappropriate content, as well as improve its artificial intelligence algorithms to find items that violate its terms.
"It's critical that we're on the right side of history," Wojcicki said, admitting there was "no playbook for how open platforms operate" at this size.
The night's entertainment was MCed by YouTube creator Tyler Oakley, who has 7.8 million subscribers. He said the first video he posted only received three views.
To show off the new ability to allow marketers to buy ads on any YouTube music content, including Vevo music videos, YouTube hired Ariana Grande and Camila Cabello.
YouTube also invited fans into the presentation to show advertisers the bond between creators and artists and the public.
YouTube also tapped Trevor Noah. The "Daily Show" host said Jon Stewart told him he discovered Noah on YouTube.
OK Go and Post Modern Jukebox, who rose to popularity thanks to their viral videos, also performed.
YouTube also invited top choreographers and dancers Jaja Vankova, Dytto, Lia Kim and Matt Steffania.
Nerdist's Spidey Life and Rudy Mancuso also performed.
An after party was held at Rockefeller Center, where attendees were treated to buffets of finger foods, including truffle-flavored tater tots, lobster rolls and fried oysters, as well as elaborate desserts like grilled cheese made out of melted rainbow chocolate. Dragon fruit and pear jello shots and frozen rose were served. There were also plenty of free-flowing open bars.
Photos are credited to Getty and FilmMagic.