Want to be a YouTube star? There's a convention for that.
About 18,000 video content creators, stars and their fans were expected at the Anaheim Convention Center last week for the fifth annual VidCon. The three-day conference included panels featuring YouTube stars such as Rebecca Black and workshops on becoming an online celebrity.
The attendees — mostly teens and young adults armed with smartphones and video cameras — greeted one another with ice breakers such as "Do you have a channel?" and "OMG! I subscribe to you!"
Crowds lined up early to hear VidCon founders John and Hank Green (known as "VlogBrothers" on YouTube) and others, including Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.
"I find this world of short-form video is such an amazing place to create laughter," Katzenberg told the crowd.
VidCon began in 2010 at a smaller venue in Los Angeles and drew about 1,400 people. This year, it occupied two halls at the Anaheim Convention Center.
The growth is a testament to the success of online video content, especially among younger people who use websites as creative outlets for a video blog, called a vlog, or to follow their favorite online personas. Viewers tend to skew younger, which is a prime audience for advertisers.
Money spent on digital video ads is growing. In 2013, it was $4.2 billion. It's expected to reach nearly $6 billion this year.
Meanwhile, those posting videos is rising fast. In 2006, only 7 percent of 16- to 34-year-olds created online content. Now 77 percent do, according to one industry executive. That same age bracket watches about 500 videos a month.
"I think (online video content) is a huge cultural phenomenon that no one can take credit for or explain or understand," Hank Green said. "We're all just … watching it happen and trying to reflect it and ride along with it."
Many attend VidCon primarily to meet and network with their favorite YouTube stars such as Tyler Oakley, whose channel has more than 4.6 million subscribers.
Oakley, who began his channel in 2007 to stay in touch with friends, now makes a living as a vlogger. He's known as an advocate for gay rights and comments on politics and pop culture. His YouTube page description reads, "Here you'll find plenty sassiness and beauty and fabulousness!"