I have gone back and forth on whether or not I was going to comment on this post. I think that what I have to say in a lot of cases won't be well received, but I'm not sure that's a good enough reason to hold back on sharing my thoughts.
There seems to be a reoccurring trend for us as members of the YouTube Community, myself included, to focus in on the small sliver of YouTube that we are involved with, as opposed to focusing on YouTube as a whole. When I say this, I know that a lot of us have been guilty for a long time, because the same tune plays itself out over and over again. YouTube makes changes to the site. The Community sees the changes, bemoans how awful the changes are, goes to the extreme that YouTube is killing itself, the Community is dying and how the site will not live on if the changes are not rolled back. This has been going on for YEARS. I favorited a tweet from Michael Buckley back in December 2008 that he made about the reactions people were having to site design changes back then https://twitter.com/#!/buckhollywood/status/1037664568
One of the things we seemingly fail to grasp, or simply choose not to focus on, is that YouTube is a global site. So, part of what I've been trying to focus on in my posts here on Google+ is learning about YouTube as a whole, and not just my sliver. For example, did you know that 70% of all YouTube views come from outside of the United States? (source: Hunter Walk - http://www.fastcoexist.com/1679803/can-online-video-usher-in-a-new-age-of-empathy
) Did you know that in Ireland, of the 4.5 million people there, 1.1 million hit up YouTube every day (source: John Herlihy http://www.siliconrepublic.com/new-media/item/26921-irish-are-a-nation-of/
) Here are some site statistics that YouTube put out for the press around January 23 of this year. http://www.youtube.com/t/press_statistics
, most notable of
course is that YouTube serves up 4 BILLION video views a day. We also, already know that the first stat is outdated; YouTube
just reported today that 72 hours of video is now uploaded to the site every minute.
These numbers are just mind boggling to me. The scale with which YouTube has to cater to, not only in terms of the infrastructure (computer and network equipment) it takes to run the site but also the cost of keeping the site going, is something that is far beyond the norm in the computing world we know today. Numbers like this present many operational challenges to the staff that keep the site going. With all of the content that is being generated, it's next to impossible for people, even given teams of editors, to keep up with and attempt to curate fascinating content. With so many eyeballs out there, you will never succeed in providing the best content to as many users as you can, it just can't be done. So what we're seeing is Google/YouTube doing what they do best; using software/algorithms to attempt to curate the content for you. And of course, one of the questions is, are the algorithms working? I have to say that in some cases I agree with the people that are saying no, they are not
Suggested channels has been broken for a long time, at least over a year. The Suggested Channels for me are always the same ones, it never varies. Here's an example about how broken it has become; as soon as I unsubscribed from Shaytards, Shaytards immediately showed up as a Suggested Channel for me, and it has not gone away in the months since then. You would think that the algorithm would be able to take in to account that if you unsubscribed from a channel you don't want to see it anymore, but it apparently doesn't. Also, you would think that if the algorithm repeatedly suggests the same channels week after week, that maybe I don't want to watch any of those channels and some different ones should be suggested but they never are.
I believe there are also algorithms that change quite frequently, some out of necessity. I can see where changes to the Related Videos algorithms can be necessary in dealing with spam users and people trying to game the system, on a regular basis. It does seem, however, that the recent changes (and I don't know if these are the reply girls reaction changes or not) to these algorithms have actually resulted in a negative way, with less relevant content finding it's way in to the related videos space. It's very noticeable when you watch a vlog and then over half of the related videos are for Justin Bieber or some other unrelated Vevo channel.
While I'm on the topic of Related Videos, I wanted to respond to what +Michael Mozart
had to say.
"Our videos were stripped from related view spots that WE Earned and we were replaced largely with Promotional type video content. I'm posting a LOT of fresh videos in my G+ Stream to show content already removed from great spots we
worked hard to achieve..
OUR CONTENT SHOULD BE RESTORED TO THOSE SPOTS ON EXISTING VIDEOS"
I'm sorry Mike, but I don't understand how any related video spot can be "earned". YouTube is a dynamic site, and the content is constantly changing. Just because an algorithm ranked certain videos one way on a Tuesday, does not mean they will be ranked with the same relevance on Wednesday. You speak about a "related view spot" like it's some kind of trophy that you got and can never be taken away from you. I'd just like to know how and why you feel this is the case, and why you think it's best for a site like YouTube to be static in these cases? Why should all new content be relegated to lower scoring as opposed to older content?
Mike does also bring up another issue that has been around for a long time, reuploaders. This is an issue that YouTube has not been able to stay on top of, but I do feel that YouTube has the tools in place where they could make great strides in reducing this kind of abuse. Why aren't all uploaded, properly monetized partner videos automatically registered with the ContentID system? This should be made part of the upload process, and each partner should have the same options available to them in enforcing their copyrights on their content that the major studios and record labels do. This one seems like a no brainer.
OK, um, I kind of veered off course here a bit. Let's see, video views. In January of this year, and for each of the following months until May, Comscore has reported that US Online Video Views have fallen. In December 2011 the number was 21.9 billion video views, in January it fell to 18.6 billion video views, in February it fell again to 16.7 billion video views and then in March it bottomed out at 15.7 billion video views. Comscore has just released the numbers for April, and they have risen back up to 17 billion video views. source Comscore - http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2012/1/comScore_Releases_December_2011_U.S._Online_Video_Rankingshttp://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2012/2/comScore_Releases_January_2012_U.S._Online_Video_Rankingshttp://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2012/3/comScore_Releases_February_2012_U.S._Online_Video_Rankingshttp://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2012/4/comScore_Releases_March_2012_U.S._Online_Video_Rankingshttp://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2012/5/comScore_Releases_April_2012_U.S._Online_Video_Rankings
So now the question on everyone's minds is, why did the numbers go down? YouTube employees offered up information on the numbers dip to AdAge in an article published on May 14th, 2012. Here are the highlights-
"Our goal is we want users to watch more and click less," said Cristos Goodrow, a former Google search executive who joined YouTube as director of engineering a year ago. "This is better for users because it takes less clicking to get to the video you want to watch."
"Before the change, YouTube would track the length of views up to 30 seconds, primarily to make sure each click led to an actual view. Now it's tracking across longer timeframes to see if viewers watched two or three minutes of content."
"The tweaks to Google's algorithms are intended to influence creators as well, some of whom have become very good at getting the next click with racy keywords and deceptive thumbnail images. After all, views used to come with bragging rights in web video. Now the goal is to reward partners that generate engagement through more time spent watching videos."
"One big YouTube "partner," gaming video-entertainment network Machinima, says the tweaks are helping. "YouTube is trying to
deliver a better user experience by implementing a more sophisticated and intelligent recommendation engine, which is rewarding videos that drive better engagement and longer time spent," said Allen DeBevoise, CEO of Machinima."
And here is the link to the referenced article- http://adage.com/article/digital/youtube-s-video-views-falling-design/234735/
Also, on April 30th 2012 +David Boyle
explained in a Google+ post that there were technical issues that YouTube had fixed and that subscriber counts were now being updated daily including closed accounts (which had not been included in daily numbers shifts before) https://plus.google.com/106037002103691163517/posts/gM92iRjiMYL
So it sounds like not only did YouTube change the algorithms and design, but they also updated subscriber counts for accuracy, fixed a subscribe database issue, and redefined what actually constitutes as a 'view' in order to fall more in line with their new policy to reward engagement over clicks. These things in part, could explain why we are seeing decreases in views and subscribers.
YouTube, whether we like it or not, is a business and as such their primary charge is to make money for their stockholders. It's very difficult to do that with a product that is essentially free. You can tell based on the management changes that Google has made that they have been waiting since 2006 when they acquired YouTube for that money to start flowing in. Make no mistake, when they put Salar Kamangar in charge his primary task is to do what it takes to make YouTube profitable, and with all of the premium content initiatives
they're undertaking, this is what the focus is at YouTube. I don't see this as the end for "mid-level" or "smaller" YouTubers, but what Onision is asking for (the site to go back to what it was in 2007/2008 with home page features for all) is a pipe dream. There is simply too much UGC being added to the site for all of it to be considered; YouTube is going to focus on promoting the content which it feels is going to make the site money.
I know this post is kind of rambling at times, but I think I covered most of what I was thinking. I do make some conclusions of my own in this post, and this isn't all based in fact (anything I could source I tried to provide links for), some of it is my opinion. +Margaret Healy
I just wanted to say thanks for eyes on, and as always it's a pleasure interacting with you. It's great to know that you do care about the platform and the users as much as you do, that's not always something you find these days.