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Inside VidCon's return under new leadership

Tim Baysinger
Jun 22, 2022
Photo illustration of Pam Kaufman, the mountain from the Paramount logo, and colored rectangles.

Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Paramount Global

Not only is the conference returning after a three-year absence, but this will be the first under new leader Pam Kaufman.

Why it matters: Back in 2018, Viacom acquired VidCon in a bid to better cater to younger audiences. But because of the pandemic, it has only been able to oversee two editions.

  • Since then, Viacom remerged with CBS Corp, creating ViacomCBS — which was earlier this year renamed Paramount Global. The convention was put under Paramount's consumer products and experiences division; Kaufman was promoted to president of that division earlier this year.
  • The VidCon team also includes Sarah Tortoreti, SVP of VidCon's marketing and communications, and Colin Hickey, SVP of VidCon's operations. (Hickey was previously the convention's COO.)

Below, Axios spoke with Kaufman and Tortoreti about what attendees can expect this year.

On being back in person: Unlike most other conferences that shifted toward virtual the last two years, VidCon has not had any version since the pandemic began. That alone provides value, says Kaufman.

  • "Not only has the world changed in the last few years, but I can't think of a time where this group of people has gotten together. This really is going to be the first time for this community to be live and all in person in one place," she says.

Though VidCon was created in 2010 to showcase online creators, it was mostly sponsored by traditional media companies looking to market toward its younger attendees. That's no longer the case.

  • "It's so interesting how it's shifted to YouTube, TikTok, Roblox and Pinterest. The sponsorship among the digital platforms versus traditional media was staggering to me," Kaufman says.

You down with N-F-T?

  • VidCon won't look that much different in 2022 than it did in 2019, except for one thing: web3's outsized presence. (Don't believe us? Just look at the agenda).
  • Tortoreti adds that not only has it been three years, but so much about the creator economy is different from the pre-pandemic days. "Things like web3, crypto and NFTs — none of that existed three years ago."

VidCon vs Cannes Lions:

  • VidCon is taking place during the same week as the Cannes Lions festival in France, which kicked off on Monday. From a dealmaker's perspective, what separates the two? "Cannes is still focused on the advertising and marketing community, and there's a lot of relationships and a lot of business that still gets done there," says Kaufman, while VidCon brings in the community around the industry.
  • For some people, Kaufman argues, "the exposure of the platform, exposure to all the sponsors, and the conversation and the people attending are much more valuable."
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