YouTube Changes Summarized

YouTube changes are designed to help creators and promoters

Tom Schmoyer created a ReelSEO video to summarize a bunch of YouTube changes (below), and navigates them for creators and advertisers. Changes include

  • a new uploader tool for creators
  • the ability to link directly from videos offsite to fundraising (Kickstarter, Indigogo)
  • new ways to select ads (monitization) preferences, 150K options for free music you can add even after posting.

He references two things that are well worth reading:

Sorry Weblebrities. Traditional Media Has Ad Value Density.

YouTube is betting that stars like J-Z can attract audiences and "ad value density" (advertisers will pay more per view than amateur webstars)

Weblebrities, also known as amateur “web stars,” are like the Gaddafi loyalists. They’re not done fighting, but odds favor Libya’s National Transitional Council headed by Abdurrahim el-Keib. (Sure he’s a former electrical engineering professor from the University of Alabama, but he’s the country’s interim prime minister).

The new regime of YouTube is The National Transitional Council of Professional Content, and it’s fortified by something more precious than allies, arms and cash. It has the online-video equivalent of nuclear weapons: “Ad Value Density.”

“Ad Value Density” is a phrase used by Michael Humphrey of Forbes when challenging some conclusions in Revision3’s Jim Louderback AdAge article (the piece gave some “watch outs” to old media entering new media land). Ad Value Density means the content can command a premium spend by advertisers, who are skittish about having their ads surround “consumer generated content,” and feel warm ‘n safe placing ads adjacent to content by real celebrities and network content.

Ad Value Density means, from a financial standpoint, a view’s not a view’s not a view. YouTube’s financial interest is to propagate content that meets the following criteria:

  1. It generates the most revenue: the high ad-value density for professional content means advertisers will pay a premium to surround that content… making each view on YouTube more profitable.
  2. The content will draw larger audiences who return frequently. If they follow the Golden Rule of web content: create constant content.
  3. It generates the most revenue.

Repetition by intent. Professional content will increasingly dominate YouTube, and that will draw larger and more profitable advertising spends. It makes good business sense for GoogleTube. As online-video begins to merge with television, Google wants to be The Distribution Platform. That means it needs content sought after by the unwashed masses who don’t yet use YouTube daily.

What’s not clear is how cable TV will respond. It turns out they’re the current platform, and have a strong-hold on most households with proprietary boxes and bundled channels that would be cost-prohibitive if sold “ala cart.”

In the meantime, it’s a continuous gentle fade for the weblebrities, except the fierce ones who morph with the medium… aligning with studios, securing cash from Google’s $100 million paid to professional content providers.

YouTube's Content Priorities

We’re seeing four tiers of content providers emerge, and YouTube placing a sharp emphasis on the top of the pyramid…

  • Pro: Celebrities and professionally produced content (premium advertising due to “ad value density”)
  • Top 100 Weblebrities: The leading YouTube stars (decent ads, and placement for a while)
  • Partners: Declining emphasis as documented in my previous post (lower ad value)
  • Consumer content with monetization: This is the “long tail,” and YouTube in past months has been working aggressively to monetize even tiny accounts (see proof). Here we’ll see mostly tiny CPMs and CPCs from some of the lesser known advertisers looking for cheap leads.

Nobody’s going to die quickly, but all signals suggest YouTube/Google is shifting its emphasis — from web originals and amateur “weblebrities” to celebrities and large content providers. Why? The latter has the potential of attracting people who aren’t using YouTube, and Google apparently believes it will have them coming back again (if they heed Louderback’s suggestion about creating content frequently). Simply put, higher on the pyramid the higher the “ad value density,” right?

Finally don’t underestimate the Gaddafi Weblebrity regime. Sxephil and others have already secured placement in the pro camp. The fierce creators may be able to segway their web fame into long-form content.

YouTube Changes: Gremlin Enters Pupil Stage

The Gremlin after his pupil stage

YouTube Changes: Phases, Winners, Losers & Gremlins

While preparing for an article for ReelSEO, I happened to be watching Gremlins (1984). I couldn’t help but see the parallels between YouTube changes and the cute and fuzzy Mogwai’s mutating into the entertaining but deadly Gremlins (pictured here). We’re about to see YouTube go “pro” in an extreme form, and that’s one of the biggest changes the video-sharing site has made in its history.

Don’t get me wrong. I like change. Even if it involves some interim puss-oozing pods during the “pupil” stage. And while I mourn for my RIP and decaying fellow independent creators (and my own channel), I am excited to see how YouTube/Google becomes a cable network despite the significant battles by studios, networks and serious content producers. It’s inevitable progress… even though I’ll miss the community (but they’re there somewhere, right?).

This post will be somewhat jumbled since my thoughts for the ReelSEO piece are still sorting themselves out. I would also value some input from people who’ve been watching YouTube’s transitions even more closely than me.

Some facts & phases of YouTube’s evolution (with considerable help from Urgo6667‘s ugly but robust SocialBlade data repository)

  • Phase 1: YouTube in the 2009-2010 placed considerable emphasis on an exclusive and select pool of YouTube Partners. These independent content creators were rewarded with preferred placement throughout the site (driving views), advanced channel features, and premium monetization (sharing the income from higher yield advertisements from brands that feared consumer-generated content).
  • Phase 2: Just as some governments reportedly destabilize other countries by introducing currency, the income caused new behaviors. As Archfiend laments in this video, the advertising income helped fuel desperate habits like faking thumbnail images, begging for comments and asking for 5 stars or thumbs up.
  • Phase 3: YouTube, once the home of free speech and cat videos, began to become increasingly commercial. Once subtle ads soon blanketed the homepage. Optional prerolls became mandatory. The lines blurred between popular content and what was “featured” (based on advertising dollars or preferential content placement for select creators).
  • Phase 4: Some prolific YouTube pioneers left the site jaded. These include Renetto, Pipistrello, and Comedian SeanBedlam (see his frustrated video posted in August announcing he’s quitting).
  • Phase 5: As a great magician distracts you from his slight of hand, YouTube introduced the NextUp program. It gave $35K checks to a new crop of YouTube Partners to fuel their content.
  • Phase 6: Now YouTube is going after cable and investing $100 million in professional content

But as 2011 progressed, YouTube changes resulted in views spread out in cryptic ways. Some YouTube channels have taken significant hits from these changes in which videos appear in powerful areas such as search results, “related videos” and “spotlights.”

I’ve shared my own sharp decline since September (in October I averaged 64% fewer views then 3 months ago), but this chart from once-popular HotForWords tells a typical story…

HotforWords decline is happening to many once-vibrant content creators

Fall of Pioneers… The decline of solo creators is not unlike the fate of Indie singers online… as viewers shifted to mainstream content that arrived late to the party. But check out some non-trivial examples:

  • TheStation, which was launched by top YouTubers, went from more than 272,000 views October 2010 to under 110,000 in October 2011.
  • Smosh, one of the most subscribed channels, is down 94% last month relative to 6 and 3 months ago. They were once the darlings of YouTube with frequent sponsors.
  • SMPFilms, an early pioneer of YouTube meetups, is down 56% from 6 months ago… getting about 63,000 views currently (the drop is almost identical to the decline of Google’s channel on YouTube). MysteryGuitarMan (MGM) took a similar hit, and so did MediocreFilms.
Obviously there are few caveats to these declines:
  • Some (but a minority) of the decline could be the creator’s diminished productivity. For instance I posted less frequently. But this seems unlikely given that MGM and Smosh are still rolling out new videos that get significant views.
  • The decline is, perhaps, simply a return to normal. Most Partners saw a dramatic “artificial” lift in monthly views that were not dependent on their new content. In effect YouTube throttled creators and then stopped.
  • More than 50% of my own views comes from related videos. Some of that might be based on an algorithm that attaches similar videos, and that’s presumably less likely to change. But YouTube may continue to “throttle” my videos as related videos, meaning I’ve got further room to drop. Here’s hoping the Wizards of Al don’t decide to beat me down again for this post.
So where’d all the views go? And why my lip all bufted up?
  • YouTube has not seen a decline in viewers, so the views are being spread out to the new “mini Partners” and other creators.
  • Here are some of the fastest-growing Channels according to SocialBlade analysis: Vevo (which took a 1900% growth relative to 3 months ago), HollywoodTV, StanfordUniversity, and PlayStation with a remarkable 500K views a month.
  • Stay tuned… working with Urgo I might publish a list of the biggest losers/gainers.
Thoughts? Observations? Insights? Bring ’em. And thanks mystery man (you know who you are).
WVFF remembers YouTube solo artists, represented by Gizmo... 2006-2011

Interview With Al, YouTube’s Algorithm Monster

We at WillVideoforFood were honored to be granted the first interview with Al, YouTube’s Algorithm Monster. Al makes critical determinations about what videos get seen, which subscribers see what content, what videos are placed as “related video,” and what videos are “spotlighted” throughout the site. He recently took many amateur creators down to 25% of the views they had this summer, effectively dropping their income by the same amount.

Al, YouTube's Algorithm owner, is seen here in his San Bruno Apartment where he has been sad and depressed.

WVFF: How are you, Al?

AL: Al scared and not happy. Very sad.

WVFF: Why?

AL: Al made changes for YouTube bosses to make people stay on YouTube longer. It work. YouTube visits increase in duration by .0005%.  But Al accidentally punished amateurs. Now amateurs upset with Al. They come to Al’s swamp with torches.

WVFF: Can’t you change them back?

Al: Al no make backward changes only forward. Evolve not devolve.

WVFF: So how about a forward change that keeps independent content creators steady on their views.

Al: Why Al do that?

WVFF: I don’t know. It seems it would keep independent creators motivated and loyal, and ensure that YouTube has content that can’t be seen on TV or other places.

Al: YouTube masters told me professional content more important. We go professional. No more cats and vloggers. We go “2 and a Half Men.” Me do what told.

WVFF: Al. Do you honestly think YouTube is poised to compete with networks and cable companies? That’s waging war, and it’s not what people want via online video yet.

Al: Al sad. Eyes leaking.

WVFF: Why, Al?

Al: Because you right. But masters at YouTube tell Al what to do. Al get blamed. They hurt Al.

WVFF: Sometimes, Al, you’ve got to show uncommon courage… doing what you know is right, not what people are asking you to do.

Al: Al feel better now. Al make it fair for amateur creators again. Al not want video creators sad like Al.

WVFF: Thanks for your time, Al. Just one final question.

Al: Yes, Nalts.

WVFF: How do you make changes to the algorthym while you’re in this swamp?

Al: Al only do interviews, poop, and sleep in swamp. Al walk to YouTube campus and bathe. Then Al make program changes.

Online-Video Contests: Still Going Strong

I used to write quite often about online-video contests because for many brands, that was their online-video strategy. It’s similar today when brand’s create a Facebook page to check off that nagging “social media” objective.

A lot’s changed in the past years, and Jared “The Video Contest King” has reengaged, even musters up some praise for Poptent (the video contest site he’s criticized before). I found this quote especially interesting…

Yes, $7,500.00 for a contest victory for three weeks work is decent pay, but if you really worked for three months, because it is the true frequency rate of your ‘wins’, than you now are netting about $26,000 per year. I pay more than that in rent alone.

This is a good reminder that, with some certain exceptions among recurring Poptent winners, few are making a “living” with online-video contest winnings.

Key Point: I would urge those pursuing contests to do so as a) a creative outlet, b) a way to build a good reel, and c) an additional income source. This is true for YouTube as well… a handful of stanky rich creators making way more than your salary and mine combined. Lots of people making what we’d consider a fantastic second income. But if money is the primary motivator, it’s not a safe bet.

The Sour Patch Cannibals are nice proof that there's gold in 'dem quasi-pro amateur hills

In other contest news…

  • Amazing Justin and his new bride are still keeping the aggregator fresh, and even allows creators to profile and received customize information about contests.
  • Beardy’s “Video Contest News” has some nice coverage, and even offers occasional production tips (I liked this one since I’m always having audio problems with my DSLR camera as a primary video recorder). We like Beardy’s homeless theme, which reminds us of our WillVideoForFood name.
  • Poptent Neil Perry told me the company has received increased investment, hired a team of sales people, and are beginning to attract larger brands that align with the company’s original vision (where the content is used on television not just online-video).
  • Weeks ago (during PattyTube) we crashed the Poptent office and binged on loads of new contest entries. Years ago many looked like bad CableTV ads, but the ones we watched were damned-well close to agency work. Common- who else loved the “Sour Patch Cannibals“?
  • Collaborations by independent creators with specific talents — like writing, acting, production, editing, music — are on the rise according to Tim Breslin, the mad genius behind Poptent’s technology.
  • King Jared teamed with Joel Berry (aka Tavin Dillard on YouTube) to create a Poptent entry for Trident Gum (titled “Grease Monkey Business,” which is a far cry better than the “consumer-generated” entries of past.

>

Google & YouTube’s New Hierarchy: 7 Implications

Editor’s note: If you miss the hyperlinks in this post, you’re missing 95% of the humor.

As you may well know, Google’s CEO Larry Page promoted seven executives recently, and effectively eliminated the power of a “product manager” Lord and an operating committee that was previously “hands on” in the critical businesses of the Internet mega-giant. It’s a smart choice: in the name of speed an innovation, Page pushed down/out responsibilities to trusted confidants. Of course like any change, it has positive and negative implications that I’ll now analyze like a sad commentator/pundit digesting a freshly delivered political speech.

Salar Kamangar is the head of YouTube (see his video), and depending on your source he’s either the 9th or 13th employee in Google. The other chief engineers are: Andy Rubin (mobile), Sundar Pichai (Chrome and OS), Alan Eustace (engineering/research), Jeff Huber (commerce and local), Vic Gundotra (social ventures), Susan Wojcicki (the token “ad” lady).

Up until here, I’ve been fairly accurate (except for the Salar clip– here’s the real one, and he’s Persian not Indian, you racist). But From here out, I’m totally speculating if not embellishing.

little-superstar-salar-kamangar-youtube-ceo
YouTube Chief Engineer: Salar "Little Superstar" Kamanger

But dangit I’m an “expert” who wrote a “book.” Plus I’ve got loads of previous blog predictions that, in hindsight, are astonishingly accurate (and I’ve not groomed any posts, or changed them… sure maybe I’ve stopped referencing the ones that predicted Revver.com would dominate, but that’s called “optimist Alzheimer’s”). For instance- remember when I anticipated how Google’s sales team would integrate with YouTube’s? Yeah currently YouTube “display” experts are pollinated across industry teams, and spread based on the industry’s spend: entertainment higher than something like pharmaceuticals). And I think I was fairly accurate about Google squandering YouTube’s potential.

Anyway I’ve got me some predictions based on my personal experience facing the joys and perils of working for centralized and highly decentralized companies, as well as startups that grew to endups, and startups acquired by bureaucracy-o-matic-machines.

So (insert drum roll) please scan (or read) my seven predictions for what this change means to YouTube — mind you, these are just the seven that are related to (or might be implied by) the Google reorganization. My other predictions would make this post too long for my ADHD WVFF back row peeps who have already begun to wish there were ads on this blog… or animated koi fish like my hairloss blog.

1) YouTube More Tied to Core Business: YouTube has an “insider” with P&L responsibility on YouTube. I’ve never met Salar Kamangar (although if/when it happens I can only hope he recalls me as the guy who likened him to “little superstar”). But at Google people drop their “hire” number sequence like Kerry dropped “Purple Heart” wins. Or like former McKinsey or Harvard people referencing their alma mater.

2) A More Autonomous YouTube is a Better YouTube: If Salar “little superstar” Kamangar is a good leader, he’ll recognize that he needs a more diverse workforce.

3) A Sad Interim Effect: Google is an engineer company that hires people on GPAs and obscure interview questions like “how many beach balls could fit into the radius of a square building moving from Baltimore to Washington at 25 MPH.” The sad fact is that Kamanger’s breeding will cause him to keep engineers close, sales people at a safe distance, and label everyone else “specialist.” I’m not kidding on that last point. In my non-scientific research, I’ve found a 73% increase in people who weeks ago had no title and are now called “specialist.” At most companies, there are four layers: C-suite, VPs/directors, managers, and the unwashed masses. Google appears to be dissing anyone that doesn’t manage people with the lame title “specialist,” which is not going to help them externally.

4) YouTube Right Hand Meets Its Left Hand: YouTube has largely functioned in silos, and treating it like a separate business unit means Kamangar and his team can facilitate better coordination of scarce resources located in San Bruno and NYC. That’s good news for smart people who have often been marginalized (or left).

5) Opposite Effect: Decentralized Premium: Sure YouTube’s right brain and left brain (west coast and wrong coast) may connect its corpus callosum. But Google’s move to decentralization may come at a modest price. I tend to like the autonomy and responsibility that comes with decentralized companies. However that comes at a premium. The best example is large agency holding companies, which are loosely assembled small agencies that share in infrastructure and a logo… and that’s about it. This keeps companies customer centric, nimble, fast and engaging… but it also can be difficult when some “go to market” approaches require an aligned front. We can expect Kamanger to assign people within YouTube to liaison with each of the sister Google companies, but occasionally we’ll see chinks in the armor. For instance Android may be more inclined to do what’s in Android’s best interest even at the peril of YouTube adoption. I would predict this threat to be minimal based on the interoperability and consistency of Google’s offerings. Sure there are bastard children (poor Vic will have to make social matter), but Google’s singular hiring profile may make it easier to keep the ducks in a row. When in doubt, shut up and let the engineers do their work… you silly specialist.

6) YouTube As More Than a Platform: This move could accelerate YouTube’s transition from a media platform to a content programmer. See my recent post on the various phases of YouTube’s evolution. You should go read that fabulous post. I’ll admit I wrote it on a lark and could have proofed it better. But I recall it being interesting.

7) Poor, Poor Salespeople: This isn’t good news for the second-class citizens at YouTube we call “sales people” (they’re “specialists” ranked just above “marketers” by the engineering elite). Poor Susan has to run sales at a product/innovation centered-organization. Sure it depends on revenue and customers, but that’s not exactly a priority for Google. Hey it’s working so far, so who am I to fault them? I’m just saying that a customer-centric “go to market” can be a bit easier in a centralized organization that actually values a sales & marketing function. But if the going gets really tough, the tough can get going… to AOL. You’ve got mail.

Okay you didn’t read this did you? At least you gotta dig the freaky fortune teller guy, right? Right? Ah heck maybe it will make the rounds among the unwashed YouTube “specialists”… or not.

Online Video in 2011: Ready for Drama?

Friends, online-video is going to be a fun storm in 2011 as the drama has just begun. It’s the first official business day of 2011, and that prompted me to awaken at 3:00 a.m. with great curiosity. I spent 4-plus hours diving into dozens of articles and blogs, and have wrapped it all up nicely for you. It’s my late Christmas gift.

Here are “things to watch” in early 2011, including some recent articles. See also my 2011 predictions, which is a mandatory scan. This will be on the exam.

Can WebTV tame the "Big Media" Tiger?

1. The WebTV Bloodbath Is Just Beginning: Check out this killer article by Fortune’s Jessi Hempel titled “What the Hell is Going On With TV” to get a flavor for the impending drama in this space. And I quote: “Netflix, Google, and Apple can’t just swoop in and disrupt the $85 billion home entertainment industry. The challenge lies in navigating the entrenched interests that make up the television business.” Jessi’s piece reminds us that only a 1/10th of a percent of people have left cable television for the web, yet Microsoft says 42% of the premium Xbox Gold users who rely on it to view video are watching more than an hour a day, or 30 hours in a month. “If you’re a cable provider, that should be terrifying,” says Forrester analyst James McQuivey. The author points to Clicker.com as one I’d watch closely… a made-for-web TVGuide and search tool that allows you to locate various shows (Modern Family) and select viewing options: free, per episode or subscription. But Jessi likes Comcast as a driver of a mature online-video model because it protects the financial interests of content providers (as well as its own). I sadly believe she’s right given the confusing and frustrating state of online-video on television today (which she likens to Internet circa 1998).  Fortunately we’ve got two forces to keep Comcast motivated: consumer demand and willing startups ready to meet that demand. And he, Comcast has been asked to be cool (see Bloomberg/Businessweek article).

Click image to read more of Fortune's "What the HELL is Going on With TV"

2. Online-Video Platforms Continue to Get Commoditized, Then Interesting. Frankly I’ve never been as interested in the boring infrastructure supporting online video as I am the marketing, community and content that sits on top of it (where the air is easier to breath). But Streaming Media’s Dan Rayburn explains it well. Sure the space is commoditized, but just because YouTube is free doesn’t mean online-video platform vendors can’t charge a premium for more flexible solutions that can scale and provide unique functionality. According to Rayburn’s “Commoditization Is Not a Dirty Word,” vendors are shifting from talking about how they encode or embed (yawn) and how they a) integrate with ad networks and analytics, b) deliver the right video content to the right user on the right device. That makes sense, and I would not underestimate the power of a platform that meets the needs of creators and advertisers (David Russek‘s SevenEcho, for instance, is one of the best-kept secrets for storytellers and brands). There’s a wide opening for a video platform which better meets the needs of creators and advertisers (see MediaPost article by WatchMojo’s Ashkan Karbasfrooshan). The challenge, of course, is that today traffic (not content) is king, and YouTube continues to reign by miles (comScore). Thanks to music videos, Vevo and Blip.tv continue to grow — but still small fish.

3. YouTube Community Still Alive. Is YouTube a thing, destination or community? Yes, depending on whether you live there 2 hours a day or slide over to see the latest viral clip of search for a meme. Community is still alive, and the eager and weird folks from StirFryTV are cooking up a “YouTour,” a YouTube Tour which starts in Orland on a Jan. 18 event. It will include YouTube allstars Michael Buckley, Shane Dawson and CoolGuyWithGlasses. We’re not sure if John Basedow will be sneaking onto the YouTour RV, and going shirtless to each event to pitch his “Take Control Fitness Package” (making the rest of us feel like fat asses). Paul (odcasting101) remains alive with his YouTube Gathering ning. There’s a San Antonio, Texas YouTube gathering planned in June 17-June 19). While YouTube’s Creator blog has gone dry, it points to 488 YouTube gatherings listed on Meetup.com (mostly tiny ones). I just discovered YTGatherings on Twitter too, and it alerts us to such events like Jake & Amir’s Toronto event on Jan. 27, 2011. I’d be surprised if a YouTube event doesn’t spring up as part of the popular Austin, Texas SouthBySouthwest event March 11-20. After all, there are several YouTube and online-video sessions as part of the programing and Felicia Day is keynoting.

4. Video Search Will Suck Less Get Better. Sure we’ve been saying that for years, but ThinkJose’s Jose Castillo explains why video search sucks: “The internet was never designed as a platform for video… the basic structure and platform we are using to consume visual data is an outdated system originally used for sending text messages between universities.” Castillo reminded me that Blinkx.com is still around, and that Microsoft’s Bing search has a mouse-over playback (and don’t tell YouTube, but I think Bing is curating better with a homepage of videos that I regard as more relevant than what I’m finding on YouTube). He also points to CastTV, which provides blended results from YouTube, CNN, Amazon and other sites. See also Clicker.com (point one).

5. Video Greetings Will Get More Awkward in 2011: Cheesy Christmas video greetings were hot, with some being fabulous and others being downright painful. They didn’t stop, as evidenced by Profnet’s stunningly awkward 2011 New Years video. I hate to say this, but I think we’ve only begun to see how low corporate video-greeting cards can go. Sure this isn’t an “industry shaker,” but it sure will be fun to watch.

6. Video Destinations Rival YouTube: When I pop into a few well curated online-video sites, I increasingly believe YouTube, while still growing in views, will lose share in 2011. Check out Bing’s site and you’ll find a piece about Mona Lisa’s eye codes by NBC (saw it on TV last night), the “No” baby (that has viralinated), and how to break your soda habit via Howcast. That’s far more relevant than what I’m finding when I browse YouTube’s inhumanely edited topic areas, or surf my bloated subscription box. Yahoo Video is still luke warm, but I’d expect it to steal share with the shift away from consumer-generated content in March. AOL Video is still Revverish (insert tumbleweed and sound of crickets) but getting better. While YouTube focuses on being a platform, being relevant on television and mobile, and hopefully searching video better.

7. Damn We Need Curators. It’s simply not possible to “browse” for good videos on YouTube anymore, although perhaps Google will consider some of my unsolicited New Years Resolutions for YouTube. Ultimately I’m not likely to find good content surfing the “most viewed” on YouTube (now dominated by a few niche “web stars” that appear to be “crowd sourced” by a tiny segment of apparently stoned teenage video enthusiasts). Instead, we’re more likely to find it via curators like eGuiders. Why aren’t we seeing more curators (see NYTimes blog on subject from last year). For instance, ReelSEO’s Jeremy Scott carefully selected some fantastic viral highlights from last year. That was more helpful to me than combing through YouTube. I wrote a lot about curating in Beyond Viral; go buy that dang book so I’m not the laughing stock of Wiley. Hitwise’s Bill Tancer saw the migration of early YouTubers to curated content sites a year ago, but it’s been oddly quiet.

8. Online Video Gets More Social. I didn’t hit that hard enough in my 2011 predictions, so let me point to Hitwise’s report about Facebook driving the social engine of the Internet. Basically Facebook’s growth hasn’t slowed down, and MySpace and Bebo are crumbling. YouTube, surprisingly, is flat relative to Facebook. I’m telling you… watch for Facebook offering revenue sharing and see if the YouTube community shifts over to Facebook. Daneboe’s cracked Facebook via the insanely popular Annoying Orange with nearly 7 million “likes” (compared to only 1.5 million YouTube subscribers despite his 423 million views). Currently Daneboe uses Facebook to alert fans to a video, then streams it on YouTube where he generates a percentage of income. How easy would it be for him to start using Facebook if the company revenue shared? Most of us YouTubers haven’t cracked Facebook yet, and it’s high time for that. NYTimes Tech Blogger, Miguel Helft, also points to Clicker.com (someone’s doing good PR) for socializing video.

9. You’re Going to Pay More for Broadband: Video will soon dominate the percent of Internet traffic (see 2011 “Year Ahead In IT,” point 6). You .o5 percent of cable snippers are draining the economic system like illegitimate welfare recipients or those pesky entitled Boomers looking for social security payouts. Sure maybe there will be a poor-man’s broadband solution, but the rest of us are going to pay. With broadband suckers like Netflix and the new Skype iPhone Video one-to-one apps, do you honestly think telecommunication firms and broadband providers aren’t going to get wise? The U.S. is 18th in the world for speed, and we can bet that’s going to get some attention despite the historical year-over-year flat cost of broadband.

10. Google Going Beyond YouTube. Despite the GoogleTV Sony/Logitech launch running into a mix of praise and hiccupsreworking software and media-company resistance, we can expect Google to go beyond YouTube in 2011. Check out Information Week’s predictions on what Google will do this year. Among them: going Hollywood. That appears a difficult but inevitable play for Google to “organize the world’s information,” when you recognize “big media” as a large, sustainable chunk of it.

Finally take note of NewTeeVee’s Liz Shannon Miller’s poll about what force will really impact the space. Most votes are not for Hulu, Netflix, TV Everywhere, Apple or Google… most of us believe the real “shake up” or transformation will be driven by… something else. If YouTube and Facebook’s relative overnight success taught us anything about this still-maturing market, it’s that where there are problems and unmet consumer needs, there’s always something sudden and new that can keep it interesting.

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

The Great Social-Media Consumption Project: Open Mic Time!

As you may know, we have two audiences for WillVideoforFood:

  1. Online-video industry advocates (agencies, bloggers, marketers, media). These people quietly graze for stories, but rarely interact.
  2. The online-video junkies and Nalts watchers. These folks are more active on the web, and usually keep this blog alive with a clever thread of comments– which is more interesting than the blog itself.

Well guess what? It’s “open mic” time for the latter group, and the former group can listen carefully as if they’re watching a focus-group behind a 2-way mirror! Let’s learn how hard-core online junkies daily consume media and interact with friends, colleagues and family.

You see, our media consumption patterns have changed radically in recent months and years. We don’t wake up and watch morning shows, and then check e-mail (unless you’re wifeofnalts). Instead, we consume via a customized, electronic intravanious drip of what and who important to us via RSS, e-mail, YouTube, blogs, and social-networking applications.

I encourage the curious to read the thread below. Anyone can post comments, but I hope all readers will take note of the insights below. I may try to summarize them in a future post:

  • What’s a typical day for you on the computer? What do you most look forward to, and how do you consume the information?
  • What’s changed most in the past year? Do you use e-mail less/more, or have new destinations you love?
  • How do you keep current on videos, news or new sites/tools that interest you? Do you find them, and share them? Or does someone you know help you find them? How on EARTH do you know so quickly when I post a new video? Do you use Google alerts to track certain words (like your name or a company name)?
  • What advice would you have to people who are trying to engage more in Web 2.0, social media, online-video and other communication tools?

I’ll start with my own typical day (see more). You may want to write your own description before reading mine so it doesn’t bias you…

Continue reading “The Great Social-Media Consumption Project: Open Mic Time!”