YouTube digs deeper into beauty
For YouTube’s second virtual beauty festival, the video streaming platform is determined to get bigger and better than before.
“Last year was kind of like a pilot, what a YouTube beauty fest might look like,” said Derek Blasberg, YouTube fashion and beauty manager and director of public personas. “This year is a much bigger bite.”
YouTube held its first virtual beauty festival in May 2021. This event was relatively small and the content was pre-recorded. Six million people have connected. While that’s not a paltry number, it’s still millions shy of the subscriber counts of some of the biggest beauty names on the platform, like Tati Westbrook (8.6 million) and Jeffree Star ( 16 million).
Still, he caught the eye. Blasberg said now, four years into his YouTube tenure, he’s been getting more incoming calls from brands, publications and potential collaborators than outgoing calls. The list of names includes Hailey Bieber, whose Rhode Beauty brand is launching today. She reached out to Blasberg last year to take part in the next iteration of YouTube’s Beauty Festival. This interest, he said, served as a reaffirmation of the format’s potential to create buzz, as well as the fashion and beauty industry’s desire to engage with the site.
On Thursday, June 16, YouTube will launch the next installment of the festival. The two-hour event will feature a mix of YouTube natives, celebrities and industry stalwarts, including Bieber, models Winnie Harlow and Ashley Graham, Gwen Stefani and Ouai founder and hairstylist Jen Atkin. This year’s event will also be broadcast live from Los Angeles and will feature on-the-ground activations for YouTube’s in-person audience of approximately 200 guest influencers and creators, such as booths from brands including Fenty Beauty, Dyson and Black Girl Sunscreen. It will be produced in partnership with Joe Sabia, the former senior vice president of development at Condé Nast, who helmed viral YouTube hits like vogues “73 questions” video series.
Following the launch of YouTube Shopping features last fall, which allow viewers to purchase products directly from specific creators’ live streams, Beauty Festival viewers will also be able to purchase tagged products from brands such as Olaplex and Lancôme during that they are looking at. A few brands, including Glossier, Olaplex and Tracee Ellis Ross’ Pattern Beauty hair care line, will launch new products during the festival.
The event’s main goal is to “remind people that YouTube is the OG platform for beauty,” Blasberg said, pointing to a number of YouTube creators including Safiya Nygaard, Allyiahsface, PatrickStarrr and SSSniperwolf – who collectively have nearly 50 million subscribers. The festival content, he added, will serve as a kind of template for the type of content that works best on the site. Viewers can expect similar tutorials, surprise fan makeovers, challenges, and tryouts of wacky products and devices that dominated the first festival, but with higher production value.
The summit comes at a time of heightened competition for the Alphabet-owned video platform. Short-form video apps like TikTok have threatened YouTube’s long-standing reputation as the go-to platform for beauty makers, bringing new competition for viewers (especially younger ones), ad dollars, and social media. talents. Many creators who started posting beauty videos on YouTube experimented with other platforms, with their followers and brands (and ad dollars) following them there. Meanwhile, many younger generation creators are heading straight to TikTok in search of viral success.
“[YouTube] is kind of your dad’s place to find videos,” said Allen Adamson, co-founder of marketing agency Metaforce. “Young people aren’t hanging out on YouTube all day, they’re on TikTok… which they use as a constant check-in.”
Blasberg argued that competition between social media platforms is overdone and that YouTube has unique advantages, such as a longer lifespan for its content – peak viewership can occur months after a fashion show, for example. example. Also, given the nature of the platform’s content, people are likely to spend more time watching an individual YouTube video than a TikTok video, which can be a maximum of 10 minutes long and often just a few seconds. YouTube said its average watch time has gotten longer over the past few years, which the company interprets as a signal that people are coming there for “the full show,” Blasberg said.
YouTube is already a hub for beauty advice, and the platform sees the festival as a step toward a future of becoming an all-in-one shopping and entertainment hub, Blasberg said. Next, YouTube plans to roll out its recently launched shopping tools to more creators and brands throughout the year.
“The worlds of pop culture, mainstream entertainment and the fashion industry are converging in the YouTube ecosystem with things like Beauty Fest,” Blasberg said.