VidCon’s Popularity A Sign Of YouTube Community’s Explosive Growth

By Saba Hamedy and Yvonne Villarreal
Los Angeles Times.

Want to be a YouTube star? There’s a convention for that.

About 18,000 video content creators, viral video stars and their fans were expected at the Anaheim Convention Center last week for the fifth annual VidCon.

The three-day conference featured everything from panels featuring YouTube stars such as Rebecca Black to workshops on becoming an online celebrity.

The attendees, mostly teens and young adults armed with smartphones and video cameras, greeted one another in the convention halls with ice breakers such as “Do you have a channel?” and “OMG! I subscribe to you!”

Crowds lined up outside the ballroom as early as 9 a.m. to hear VidCon founders John and Hank Green (known as “VlogBrothers” on YouTube) introduce the conference and speakers such as Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

“I find this world of short-form video is such an amazing place to create laughter,” Katzenberg told the crowd.

When VidCon began in 2010, the conference took place at a smaller venue in Los Angeles and drew in about 1,400 attendees. This year, it occupies two halls at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The growth in popularity is a testament to the success of online video content, especially among younger people who use websites as creative outlets to video blog, called vlog, or follow their favorite online personas. Viewers tend to skew younger, which is a prime audience for advertisers.

The amount of money being spent on digital video advertising is growing fast. In 2013, digital video ads hit $4.2 billion, and that number is expected to reach nearly $6 billion this year.

Meanwhile, the number of people posting online videos is rising at an eye-popping rate. In 2006, only 7 percent of 16- to 34-year-olds created online content, and that number has jumped to 77 percent today, according to one industry executive. That same age bracket is watching an average of 500 videos a month.

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