YouTube Statistics Via SocialBlade

ReelSEO’s Tim Schmoyer interviewed Jason Urgo about his Social Blade, which helps YouTube creators track fellow YouTubers. The website captures public information from YouTube’s API and databases them — to help creators “stalk” top YouTubers, but also see what “competitors” are doing.

Here's a SocialBlade report on my recent history. I have access to this data as a channel owner. But SocialBlade makes it easy for people to look at a YouTuber's "health"

People are obviously interested in how much income YouTubers earn, and Social Blade provides a broad earning range based on total monthly views x estimated income per view (maybe 50 cents to $5 bucks per 1,000 views). There’s also an “SB score” that tracks YouTube influence (ala Klout). The site also makes projections around YouTubers hitting certain subscriber milestones, and provides simple graphs on any YouTube channels; these display data otherwise difficult or impossible to access (see chart).

Vidstatsx has a similar offering, but SocialBlade goes deeper by tracker YouTubers that are getting smaller viewers. Urgo also is helping smaller YouTubers become YouTube Partners, which gives them advanced functionality on their channel page. Here’s where you can become a Partner via Urgo and “RPM Networks,” which is a division of web studio Maker. Not everyone is approved, but it helps to have at least 1,000 daily views, clean content, and no copyright infringements.

See the video below for more info, and check out my Nalts page. You’ll see my ever-shrinking subscriber list (from 244K to 225K subscribers). I’m losing about 600 per day since YouTube is scrubbing out old, inactive accounts that subscribe. Obviously this won’t effect me since dead accounts don’t watch a lot of videos. By comparison, here’s the VidStatsx page on my Nalts account. It focuses more on top YouTubers and hour-by-hour changes.

The data sites continue to emphasize subscriber data, which to me is not as important as a) a channel’s total views to date, and b) the average number of views on a creator’s recent videos. The former drives a creator’s income, but the latter is important for brands looking to sponsor YouTubers. How many views can they expect on a sponsored video? To get an answer, look at the past 10-20 videos and average their views.

Why YouTube Subscribers Don’t Matter

In general, YouTube creators (and viewers) are a bit obsessed with sheer numbers of subscribers. It’s fool’s gold, friends. While early views are often predicated on developing a subscriber base, as a creator’s presence on YouTube matures, subscribers simply don’t matter nearly as much as people think. What matters is quality not quantity. I’d trade you half of my 250K subscribers for 1000 actively engaged viewers.

I say that to offset the prevailing belief that subscribers are everything, but recognize it’s a provocative overstament. A solid base of “fans” or avid viewers is invaluable. But after a while, the “subscription obsession” can be lazy and dangerous. Here’s why:

  • There was a time where we thought most subscribers viewed videos, and in fact that was more true in 2008-2009. Today (with the exception of a dozen top channels), the majority of views by the top 500 YouTubers are driven by “related videos” and micro-featuring (spotlighted videos). Almost 80-90 percent of my daily views (ranging about 200-250,000 daily) are not from subscribers, and “search” drives only about 1 percent. Obviously a healthy subscriber base (especially those who interact with the video) has a cascading effect on related videos and microfeaturing. But…
  • One loyal/active subscriber is worth more than 50 passive ones. Since only about 1 percent of viewers tend to interact with a video (and the creator’s relationship with his/her audience has a lot to do with that), the active viewer is GOLD. The passive troll (or dead account) is fool’s gold.
  • Let me put this in simple terms. Of the quarter of a million views I get, perhaps ONE PERCENT of those are driven by subscribers deciding to check my latest video. That fact initially demotivated me and I shared that with YouTube staffers: why kill myself making new videos if it barely makes a difference to daily views, which sets my income? Lately, however, it makes me highly motivated to create more regular and better videos to maintain and grow a recurring audience. Sure- I feel fortunate that I have some momentum from the thousands of hours and thousands of videos I’ve created since 2004, but also very nervous about losing that momentum because of a simple shift in YouTube’s “programming” or algorithm.
  • All subscribers are not created equally. Those who subscribe to my channel via “box-for-box” are often inadvertent viewers prone to leaving hate comments. As time goes on, you invariably increase the percentage of total subscribers who are not fans… they may find one video they like, subscribe, then complain or bail.
  • I define the “health” of a YouTube channel as the recurring views that recent videos get. So while I’m happy to be getting millions of views a month, they are radically tilted toward old videos. My new videos get seen, with some exception, about 20K times… which is just 10% of my total subscribers (250K I think, but I’ve stopped checking).
  • Even when I was about 100K subscribers and getting about 40-100K views per video, that was deceptive. First, a lot of those views came not from subscription but from the 10K plus people that would check my channel daily to see what’s new (that’s dropped). Also my recent videos were automatically adjacent to my legacy videos, which changed a few years ago. So what I saw as subscriber views were often driven by the dozen enduring videos (Scary Maze, Farting in Public). Now the videos that surround those are unlikely to be mine, thus the “binger” is less likely to get caught in a Nalts binge.
Being on the popular "BarelyPolitical" channel "additional channels" box drove #s but could have invited an audience that's a poor fit
  • Finally, I suspect that the increase in “trolls” on my Nalts channel may partially be the result of the kindness of BarelyPolitical to “box” me on its channel (this morning, I respectfully invited them to remove me from their “related channel” box). It drove high numbers of subscribers, but mostly people unfamiliar with me. For instance, my daughter posted a video last night (embarrassing brothers) and it fetched about 80 comments before day break… about 10 of them I needed to delete before she saw them. I expected the “get back to prank” comments, but the 10 were lude and clearly not people you want subbed.  The video, which is consistant with what I’ve been making for 5 years, is simply not going to please a typical BarelyPolitical subscriber. The trolls come from a variety of sources, but when I see people refer to me as a third person I generally assume they didn’t subscribe with any premeditation.

    So why is this important? It means independent creators are highly dependent on YouTube’s “programming,” which is currently an algorithm. If tomorrow YouTube made a change, my mature channel would evaporate instantly. These rules apply to all channels, but especially to those that have already built some momentum and wish to build on it…

    The New Rules…

     

    1. Stop checking subscription numbers and focus on the quality of your relationship with fervent fans.
    2. Produce regular videos. I used to post daily, and when I stopped (on advice of many that said they’d prefer a good video weekly than decent videos daily) I lost a lot of momentum. Frequency is as important as quality. We are creatures of habit, and we’ll push that peddle over and over as long as a food pellet comes out (or to use gambling terms, we’ll keep playing the slots as long as we occasionally get a prize). But after a while, people stop checking your channel for new content. A month or two of zero or poor content can produce enduring damage… people simply forget to check your channel.
    3. Produce what Ryan Nugent at YouTube calls “Temporal Programming.” Produce content about current events, and plan content around major events… Shark Week is a nice example, and so are videos posted days before a big event (post your 4th of July video on July first so it builds steam).
    4. Third, BYOA. Bring your own audience. Annoying Orange drives a large chunk of his views from a very popular Facebook page. I’ve not had as much luck driving traffic via other mediums, but “seeding” is another way to garner views. Produce content that a popular blogger may enjoy and let him/her know about it. Look for other ways to syndicate your YouTube content beyond YouTube.
    5. Reconsider your “ask.” Should you ask for comments/ratings/favorites? Sure. That’s what makes a video jump on YouTube’s “most viewed” charts. But also consider other “asks” of your audience… subscribe via e-mail, check every Friday, etc.

    The Onion used to publish online on Wednesdays, and I still wake up on Wednesdays and reflexively check (even though content is now regularly updated).

    The bottom line is that audience development is about building yourself into the habit/routine of an active audience, not by getting a quantity of lukewarm viewers via a magical orange button.

    YouTube 5.0 Begins

    Netflix is watching “GOOG” and its potential use YouTube to stream longer form content. See WSJ blog. And read about YouTube’s move to live streaming ala Ustream and Blogtv.

    I’d say the concern is significant, and this marks the fifth phase of YouTube…

    Phase 1: Pirate Sharing (2004-2006)
    Phase 2: Amateurs & Community (2005-2009)
    Phase 3: Video Search Platform (2009-2011)
    Phase 4: Mainstream and Semipro Content Aggregator and producer (2010-2012)
    Phase 5: Live Programming and Video Anywhere (2010-2013)

    These phases aren’t precise in their beginning and end, and each builds on another. So technically there’s still plenty of pirated content, but far less and harder to find. And amateur hour isn’t quite over, but YouTube’s emphasis is on music, web series and professional content.

    YouTube has not touched long-form content significantly (check the latest comScore data to see that Hulu and Netflix dominates when you rank websites and platforms based on view duration). Also find some important comparison graphics to see what’s at stake for the ustreams and others.

    But since YouTube, like Google, is the “first stop” for most people searching for video content, it has a natural advantage to be the default 3-4 screen streaming media player.

    This 5th stage, of course, takes GOOG and YouTube into unchartered territory that requires:
    -Device dominance: plus for Android, but Apple still leads and Google TV is far from the new OS for televisions or web devices.
    -Equity on search: can you be both a neutral video search engine and a content owner? Given difficulties licensing pro content, YouTube appears to be stepping up original content: example Next New Network purchase, and more recent news about investments in custom content).
    -Better deals with production studios and networks (to overcome the barriers that cable and telcom are forging). But in the meanwhile it appears that YouTube’s focus is on broadening distribution as a platform and as a network for smaller producers.

    What do you think? Is YouTube the MySpace of our time, or will it be the dominant platform and search engine for any/all video? Off the latter, what’s it need to do to maintain relevance?

    Microsoft Catching Up: Bing and Video

    Thanks to “Seeing Through the Windows” author Preston Gralla and SFGate’s Matt Rosoff for pointing out what I’d missed.

    While YouTube/Google retains its massive lead in online-video viewing, Microsoft is catching up.

    I’ve written about comScore’s newest rankings, but failed to recognize that Microsoft quietly crept from #7 (last month) to #2. That fact went largely unnoticed by many of us… is it a variation or a trend? Neither Gralla or Rosoff offer, from my perspective, a solid explanation for Microsoft’s sudden ranking. Perhaps people are using Bing’s video search engine? But why?

    This hardly makes sense to me. Today the Bing video site featured Jessica Black (Friday) song. It might have been titled, “search what was popular on YouTube last month.”

    Online-Video Changes: Facebook Growing, Pro-Content Attracting Ad Dollars

    comScore’s February data once again shows Google’s dominance in the online-video market, but Facebook is catching up. It’s now the fourth-largest online-video sharing property (see Facebook’s unofficial resource for more information). Facebook, as a sharp contrast from other sites, has short bursts of viewing (far shorter durations than other properties like YouTube, Hulu or Viacom (see BroadbandTV report).

    comScore has a nice presentation that shows the “radical” growth of the medium (see download), and the total people relative to streams. It seems that the longer format of professional content (basically TV shows streamed online) is attracting a greater portion of advertising today.

    Growth of streams and peeps from 2006 through 2010 (comScore)

    To me, the most interesting part of this report is the acknowledgement that advertising dollars aren’t keeping up with the increase in online-video viewing. While this is probably true for the dawn of every preceding medium (radio, television, internet), it does suggest media buyers are in need of additional adjustments of the “media mix.” This requires better planning, and more creative built for the channel.

    The ad budgets aren't keeping pace with online-video consumption

    Because media-buying agencies (representing top brands) are more comfortable with television, it’s no surprise that Hulu is serving more ads per minute streamed. It’s familiar content and an easier format. Of course advertisers should be looking not just for “comfort” and targeting, but also “reduced clutter.”

    Note that YouTube is not leader in advertising delivery (when you look at “ad views”). After Hulu, Tremor Media Video Network ranked second overall (and highest among video ad networks) with 503.7 million ad views, followed by ADAP.TV (432 million) and Microsoft sites (415 million).

    Trivia: Time Watching Television Versus Online Video?

    I’m fairly immersed in the online-video space, but would have had to “phone a friend” if you asked me some of these questions on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

    • Are we consuming more or less television now that we have online video and the mobile players (3 screens)?
    • What percent of our live television viewing has given way to “time shifted” (via DVRs, TiVo, AppleTV and stuff)?
    • How much time do we Americans spend in front of the television versus watching online video?

    The answers may surprise you. Try to guess before peeking.

    • As you might have gathered, we’re actually consuming more television according to Nielsen’s “Three Screen Report” (despite the other two screens: mobile and computer).
    • I must be in a small minority because I watch precious little live television. The rest of the nation consumes only about 2 hours of time-shifted television per week, compared to about 35 hours of live television. Obviously our attention differs dramatically. For instance, my kids are blaring Nickelodeon behind me as I type. But I just noticed an ad for Miranda Cosgrove’s new CD, so maybe that counts.
    • Now for the zinger. A single amateur can sometimes command a larger audience than well-known television shows. I just made the graphic below for my book, “Beyond Viral” (Wiley). Pretty wild that one dude can swing 50 million views in the past 30 days (according to TubeMogul). Dane Boedigheimer, who produces GagFilms and AnnoyingOrange, was late to the YouTube party because he was soaking in the now set Metacafe sun… but now he’s knocking out more than 1.6 million views per day.
    One YouTube "webstar" commands 50 million views in the past 30 days. That has him rivaling audiences of many well-known television shows.
    • But before you think we’ve all migrated to online video, our average consumption pales when compared to television. We early adopters are still early. Yes the folks that gobble up 35 hours of television are only watching 22 minutes of online video according to Nielsen Wire’s recent chart below. I suppose those 22 minutes might be longer if the majority of us made it past that first 60 seconds (which we don’t according to this way outdated Tubemogul report).
    Video consumption by medium by age... seems we're still only snacking online video while we're feasting television.
    • Before you make any major conclusions based on this data, it’s important to remember two things: First, if we looked at a bell curve, we’d observe that these numbers are highly skewed by those that won’t be bothered with online video. I know many people who have abandoned television entirely. Second, this behavior is changing rapidly. For instance, there’s been a 30% plus increase in our simultaneous use of television and web (now I’m hearing Flapjack in the background).
    • I wish it was TreeTrunks or the little hand alien from Bravest Warriors. She’s so soothing.

    ShayCarl Missing From YouTube’s Most-Popular Page. Fans Terrified.

    In news that shocked regular YouTube viewers, creator “Shaycarl” is not on today’s “most-popular” page.

    Shaycarl, a radio disk jockey turned full-time YouTube star, has been on a rapid rise in subscribers and views (evidenced by Google trends data below), propelled exponentially an assload in recent months due to his affiliation with “TheStation,” a popular collaboration channel of YouTube’s largest stars.

    shaycarlshaytard

    But Shay has not posted in 19 hours. His “Baby Can Slam Dunk” video was posted more than 19 hours ago, and his “Giant Dog” was dated 9/31 and posted more than a day ago.

    Shay was not available via phone or e-mail, and has largely secluded himself into a DannyJames Arthur DayDiamond sweat lodge tent in recent months.

    thestation sweat lodge

    Shaycarl’s last Twitter post was 11 hours ago, and his fans have become alarmed that his biggest hater gentle hater has abducted him. The hater (known as MisterDoodyHead) is presumably based in Venice Beach, California… based on his referring to “out here” as Shay’s current location. Reports of Shay being beaten by a car-seat have not been verified by local authority.

    Fortunately ShayCarl’s YouTube account shows activity as of four hours ago, and he will presumably return to most-popular by midnight… unless Sxephil and CharlesTrippy upload more than 100 videos today.

    Online-Video Stats August 2009

    Here are some more stats about online video via ComScore and MediaBuyerPlanner.

    Basically 161 million people watched online video in the U.S, and YouTube maintains a 40% share (followed distantly by Microsoft with 2.2%, and Hulu with even less). So when I use YouTube to refer to online video, it’s like saying “Coke” to refer to soda or “Scotch tape” to refer to adhesive transparent tape.

    If you’re a stupid media buyer, here are the ad networks that can help you interupt people during their video-viewing experience:

    Tremor Media ranked as the #1 video ad network with a potential reach of 68 million viewers, or 42.2% of the total viewing audience. YuMe Video Network ranked #2 with a potential reach of 59.1 million viewers (36.7% penetration) followed by ScanScout Network with 57.6 million viewers (35.7%).

    Or you could try baking your brand message into content that people actually watch… product placement, sponsoring YouTube stars via Hitviews, or creating serialized content and praying someone will watch. It’s a tough call I know.

    Hey, no offense Tremor. I know you guys do more than serve video ads… tell us about some of the stuff that works!

    What is Social Media? Um… Just Watch This and Shut Up

    Hours ago I had someone tell me they didn’t know what social media was today. My brother-in-law told me his competitors are using Twitter, and looked at me like he’d just seen a pig fly. Then I stumble into this video.

    And I’m, like, yoooooo…. this is the stank baby. This is social media. Oh yeah, oh yeah. The revooolution. Right here. Right now.

    Watch Me Get a Hair Transplant Live!

    It’s official. I’m getting a hair transplant on Monday, Aug. 17 with one of the leading physicians in the field!

    If you’d like to watch part of it live, Alan (fallofautumndistro) will be MCing a 30-minute session from 12:30-1:00 at this blogv.com location. I’m writing my book about online-video marketing (likely publishing with Wiley) and Alan has written “YouTube: An Insider’s Guide to Climbing the Chart.” More importantly, Alan is savvy with the whole live-broadcast thing, and it intimidates me (unlike getting a hair transplant live for the world).

    I’ve got a full Q&A about the process on a separate blog called “Hair Insider.” Check it out. If for no other reason, you’ll enjoy feeding the virtual fish.

    inside hairloss: a blog by a guy who did it