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 watching.
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. From the audience becoming creators to the use of tools such as multi-language audio, captioning and remixing to invent new storytelling techniques, there are several ways in which video trends are evolving.
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.
Filmmaker Kane Parsons, 17, experienced this firsthand when so many other YouTube creators riffed on and analysed his short film, The Backrooms — one going so far as to recreate it in Minecraft — that the original film amassed over 49 million views and became a top trending YouTube video. A24, the production company behind the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight” and HBO’s “Euphoria,” took notice, leading to his forthcoming big-screen directorial debut.
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, an outpouring that was still going strong six months after the ad aired.4
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
AI-generated moments resonate because creators apply their unique perspectives to bring concepts to life for their viewers. For some, this can mean turning to the technology for creative prompts, such as asking for a makeup routine to follow. For musical artists, it can mean producing visuals for their own audio tracks, allowing fans to experience their work in new ways. These innovative use cases serve as templates for how AI tools might be used in the future and help to demystify them for broader audiences. There have been more than 1.7 billion views of YouTube videos about generative AI tools so far in 2023.10
From creators with AI-generated avatars to moments driven by fan participation, video culture is moving toward an even more democratised 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.