Pop star Demi Lovato came to Cannes Lions to promote her new YouTube show Simply Complicated.
“I feel like I’m at a pivotal point in my life, turning 25,” she said, prompting the audience to laugh. “Hey, it’s a quarter of a life!” she joked.
For Lovato, the idea of the behind-the-scenes docudrama was to connect more with the legions of young girls that are her fans. “I’m looking at my future and my past, and I want to share that with my fans,” she said, adding that it was difficult to adjust to having cameras follow her 24 hours a day.
As for the title, she explained: “I’ve had a lot of experiences in my life, and I’ve been open about my story and my journey, and I think I am simply complicated.”
Lovato said she selected YouTube for the project because she has a history with the streamer: “YouTube is the OG. YouTube has been around for so long. I started my own YouTube channel over 10 years ago, and I’ve been able to create my own content and to connect with my fans through there, so being able to partner with [them] has been a dream come true.”
Lovato’s show will be exclusively sponsored by beauty retailer Ulta.
As for the company’s decision to turn to advertising for premium content, YouTube’s global head of original content Susanne Daniels said it was an opportunity to capture advertisers that are being left behind by the move to prestige programming.
“Why now? Why after all these years do we feel the time is right for advertising-supported originals? Because more and more series are showing up without ads on online subscription services and premium cable channels,” she said, citing stats that five years ago 85 percent of original series were ad-supported, whereas now it’s just north of 65 percent.
“And with significantly more content coming on subscription services, that shift is accelerating. We see these shows as a way to partner with brands and buck this trend. We see an opportunity to create a powerful new partnership with brands from around the world,” Daniels added.
The slate of new shows with Lovato, Ellen DeGeneres, Ryan Seacrest and Kevin Hart are part of this strategy to grab those loose ad bucks. Last week’s Katy Perry Witness Worldwide live stream “exemplifies why we decided to create original programming for ad-supported YouTube,” she said.
Even though there are still big global hits like The Walking Dead, linear TV remains programmed by region. The scheduling makes it “often impossible” to create a global moment.
Perry’s show being viewed by 49 million people in 190 countries during its 96-hour run “demonstrated that you have the opportunity to be part of water cooler conversation immediately,” said Daniels.