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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.

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.

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

Filmmaker Kane Parsons, 17, experienced this firsthand when so many other YouTube creators riffed on and analyzed 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,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 behavior 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.

Last month, Korean singer Midnatt launched his song “Masquerade” in six languages, even using AI to enhance pronunciation and make his vocals sound more natural in each of his nonnative languages. Audiences support these innovations: 54% of surveyed people said they follow a creator who creates content in a language other than their own.12 For brands, dub tracks can mean reaching new audiences without the need for huge production budgets.

60% of audiences agree that they are open to watching content from creators who use AI to generate their content.

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 2023.14

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.