Vlogger David Dobrik brings YouTube to the WPU


Romita Das | Staff Photographer

Pitt Program Council hosted YouTube personality and vlogger David Dobrik Tuesday night in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room.

By Mary Rose O'Donnell, Contributing Editor

A packed room of excited students cheered and applauded as a 23-year-old man in a Pitt sweatshirt and baseball cap emerged from a back door. While he looked the part, he wasn’t another regular Pitt student — this was David Dobrik, one of the most recognizable people on the internet.

Students had already started lining up in both the standby and ticket-holder lines at 1 p.m. to see Dobrik, a YouTube personality, take the stage on Wednesday night in Pitt Program Council’s “An Evening With David Dobrik.” The event took place in the Assembly Room in the William Pitt Union and about 500 students were in attendance.

Students began lining up to see “An Evening with David Dobrik” in the William Pitt Union at about 1 p.m.

Dobrik started his career on the now-defunct social media platform Vine while still in high school. His YouTube channel now consists of his series of exactly 4-minute-and-20-second-long vlogs, which often feature comedic bits, pranks and surprising his friends with a brand new car.

His vlogs mainly feature his group of friends and cast of characters known as The Vlog Squad, which is made up of many former Viners and current YouTube personalities like Jason Nash, Zane Hijazi and Heath Hussar. Dobrik’s videos have also featured many celebrity guests such as Kylie Jenner, Howie Mandel, Courtney Cox and Snoop Dogg. Since he began making videos on his channel in 2014, Dobrik has amassed 14.3 million subscribers and more than six billion total views.

PPC Former Executive Board Director Nikita Iyer interviewed the YouTube star that night, touching on a variety of topics throughout the evening.

Dobrik revealed much about the inner workings of being a YouTuber. He said he spends about 12 to 15 hours editing the five hours of footage to become one of his less-than-five-minute vlogs.

Though he spends nearly half a day editing each of his videos, which receive millions of views, most of his income does not come from YouTube since the “adpocalypse” occurred.

The “adpocalypse” occurred in 2017 after major advertisers became concerned with the types of videos their ads were being shown on, and in response pulled all of their advertising from YouTube. To rectify this issue, YouTube rolled out new guidelines that would determine whether or not a video is deemed “advertiser friendly.” According to the YouTube help page, videos are deemed not “advertiser friendly” and receive “little to no ads” if they include things like inappropriate language, drug-related content and harmful or dangerous acts. Dobrik’s vlogs often contain at least one of these things.

Before the “adpocalypse,” Dobrik was receiving about 60 million views per month on his videos, which he said then equated to $275,000 per month in adsense revenue.

“That was completely unheard of,” Dobrik said. “That was an income where I didn’t have to do anything else but crank out these videos.”

After YouTube rolled out its stricter monetization guidelines, this drastically changed.

“Now I’m getting around 200 million views per month. Right now — this month — the paycheck I’m going to get is $1,800, which is crazy,” he said.

Dobrik has found income elsewhere, specifically with his line of “Clickbait” merchandise through the company Fanjoy — which plenty of people in the audience were wearing that night.

“The majority of my income would be through merch. Thank you to the people who are wearing my merch,” he said. “That’s about 60-70% of my income.”

Dobrik also said he does not make any money off of his famous SeatGeek brand deals. In many of his videos that are sponsored by the ticket-selling company, he surprises his friends with new cars and films their reactions. These videos are some of the most popular on his channel, with the most recent one — surprising Vlog Squad member Jason Nash with a brand new Tesla — currently at 9.6 million views. Dobrik uses the money he receives from SeatGeek for the brand deal to buy these cars, rather than pocketing it for himself.

Despite this paycut over the past few years, Dobrik expressed his love for making videos and said the money is not an end-all-be-all.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it too. The stuff I post is what I love to post and I’m not going to sacrifice that just to make a bit more money,” he said, followed by audience cheers.

Sophomore nursing student Sarah Forchielli was very familiar with Dobrik’s videos before coming to “An Evening with David Dobrik” and said she was excited to see him in person.

“I love him,” she said. “I think the [Vlog Squad] and their group of friends are so funny. Throughout everything he was saying I was laughing along.”

Though Dobrik has seen great success on YouTube, he has recently ventured off the internet and onto the small and silver screens. He is currently a judge on the Nickelodeon competition show “America’s Most Musical Family,” served as the co-host of this year’s “Teen Choice Awards” alongside actress Lucy Hale and had a voice role in August’s “The Angry Birds Movie 2.”

Toward the end of the evening, Iyer asked Dobrik what his next career move was. He expressed his interest in becoming a late night host, but also said his next career path likely doesn’t exist yet.

“When I was in high school, a lot of the teachers would say, ‘Most of the jobs that you will have aren’t even jobs yet.’ I feel like that’s where I’m at right now,” he said. “There really isn’t a lane I would want to follow yet. I think only time will tell.”