YouTube’s 10th birthday celebrations has been marred by indications that the video hosting site is still not taken as seriously by advertisers as it would like to be.
At a celebration in New York’s Madison Square Garden the company called on prominent YouTubers to emphasise the platform’s ability to engage with customers that are getting harder to reach through traditional mediums such as television, billboards and newspapers.
John Green, author and one-half of the Vlogbrothers duo, told the audience: "Many of the strongest communities are dramatically undervalued by advertisers, forcing YouTubers to find other paths."
He said that he and his brother Hank had built a company with a staff of 30 off the back off their YouTube channel, which had also enabled his book ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ to become a bestseller and be turned into a film.
However adverts brought in less money for the Vlogbrothers than crowdfunding and merchandise sales, adding that ad revenues were falling by 5% each year.
Green contrasted television shows, which he said were in "the distraction business", with YouTube channels which he said were in "the community business".
"I don’t care how many people watch or read something I make," he said. "I care about how many people love something I make.
"If you want to stay in the eyeballs business, I think that’s cool. It is a good business, albeit a shrinking one – but you risk losing relevance to an entire generation of viewers."
His message complemented that of YouTube’s own executives, who were keen to promote the company’s mobile strategy.
Susan Wojcicki, chief executive of YouTube, said: "Our mobile growth has been so strong in the US that YouTube now reaches more 18-49 [year-olds] on mobile alone than any cable network. That’s incredible scale."