YouTube’s “Yahoo-Like” Homepage Makeover: More Ads, Professional Content

I’ve often said that you need to logout of your account to see what YouTube really looks like, since that’s what the majority of viewers are seeing. Let’s look at one of last year’s last Archive.org homepage screen shots of YouTube, and compare it to today’s.

Some differences:

  • 2008 has lots of white space and simplicity like Google. Today’s homepage features a film ad that dominates almost the entire “above the fold” region.
  • The content featured on 2008’s page is mostly consumer-generated or amateur. Today it’s Crackle content and yesterday was FunnyorDie.
  • Last year’s page featured new functionality. Today’s features a “house-ad” for YouTube/Google’s store (watch out for those Lava lamps… they sometimes forget the logo).
  • The featured videos, like on Break.com, were new each day and remained constant. Today we see a variety of videos rotating, and many are popular amateur videos (mixed with some advertised content). We’ve shifted from homepage featuring to “mini-featuring” via “spotlight tagging.”
  • The biggest change is not evident on the homepage. Now the power-engine behind YouTube views is “related videos,” which can account for a significant portion of views.

Again, YouTube is behaving less like parent Google and more like Yahoo.com or a media company. Perhaps the price it can fetch for a homepage takeover is too tempting to resist. It’s a great way to get a film “top of mind” awareness to jump-start a weekend box offices, or a television debut (and I was especially impressed with V’s custom YouTube ad unit). And who can fault YouTube, which bears the bandwidth cost of so much unprofitable consumer-generated content to lure mainstream users with semi or pro content that can be better monetized?

Still, it’s remarkable what a difference a year can make. From where I sit, the biggest flaw in the user-interface is that it’s not entire inviting to visit the most-popular or genre-specific videos. One tends to use the homepage as a search engine, or be drawn to whatever thumbnail or title that happens to appear below the ad-du-jour.

I’ve suggested before that the day of the YouTube editor is behind us, because the sub-page featured videos don’t seem to garner significant views. However I’d suspect “spotlight” videos are driven not just by algorithms (most-viewed, longest average viewer duration, highest rated, related) but by editor preferences. If I’m right, the editors still have an active hand in deciding what YouTube amateurs find audiences. Interestingly we tend to see a few dozen of the same Partners with the most active rotation, which suggests editorial favor-ability or content favored by “crowdsourcing” as defined by the engineers.

YouTube 2008

youtube homepage 11/09

Author: Nalts

Hi. I'm Nalts.

6 thoughts on “YouTube’s “Yahoo-Like” Homepage Makeover: More Ads, Professional Content”

  1. Wow, this is like your sixth blog post today. Mix it up a little and make some more videos.

    Do you happen to know how much it costs to get that huge video banner ad on the homepage?

  2. I totally agree with you about the “related videos” being the biggest driver. At least in my experience. Now if only I could get those awesome youtube editors to like me too. 😉

  3. I’ve always wondered about the different lists and pages that seem to be buried if not gone entirely. All of the resources one had for making themselves known on YouTube seem to be, more or less, a thing of the past.

    Yet, I’m always nostalgic for the things of the past that I didn’t have the opportunity to experience. Oh well.

  4. I haven’t been paying much attention to the front page – when did sony/crackle take over?

    Is there a joint ownership venture in the making? hmm….

    I watched a full length movie for the first time on you tube.
    Drac KU la; Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, yea!

    The resolution was better on my VCR than on You Tube – but maybe that’s what crackle provided? You Tube has a long way to go to catch up to Hulu, but I’m thinking it might be a bandwidth decision.

    You Tube is stuck with user generated stuff, no matter what they do they’re branded, for life, and it would be worse for Google if they tried to appeal to the Hulu market through You Tube; better to buy Hulu, the like or start a new venture.

    According to what I read Google’s not even close to breaking even with You Tube, but Google has so much money, like Rev Sun Yung Moon who owns and has never made a profit on the Washington Times, who cares! It’s control that counts. Money means little to these guys. When you corner the market it’s a game of chess.

    Anyways, what was this thread about again? User content?
    If so, sell short, the shorter the better. Your 3 min is down, like the economy, to 1:30.

    Honestly, unless it’s serious and important business 45 seconds is about all the time I have right now.

    Why? There’s too much stuff to watch. Everyone is downsizing and consolidating and as they say, art imitates life. No time to relax and be thoughtful, time to be edgy and il-tempered.Go with the flow, it’s smartass season. Reinvent yourself.

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