3 Things YouTube Needs ASAP

Today we have a guest contributor to the WillVideoForFood.com Blog the infamous Zack Scott. Noted for his dead pan humor, eclectic video work on YouTube and his love and concern for the common man. Take it away Zack!

‘My Dearest Kevin,
Here is an article for your stupid website…’

3 Things YouTube Needs ASAP
Hey, it’s me, Zack Scott. I’m not a YouTube megastar like Nalts, but I am very thankful for my decent subscriber base. I’m also thankful for YouTube. Since its introduction of the Partner’s Program, I really think that it has undeniably taken the crown as far as the best video site. YouTube’s strongest assets have always been its ease-of-use and its community. But the relatively recent Partner’s Program has really made it an invaluable platform for video producers like myself. With that said, I think there are three things YouTube desperately needs to fully outmatch any video site out there. These suggestions will not only help Partners but YouTube as well.

1. Earnings Reports Per Video

As a Partner, I get earnings based off YouTube’s ad revenue. But I think creators need more insight. I’m not asking for a look at their formulas. All I’m asking for is to have an earnings report that specifies how much money each video receives on a per-month or per-day basis. YouTube has done a fantastic job with their branding options and their demographics reports. Why can’t a Partner have an earnings report? Metacafe has had something similar for about two years.

An earnings report will solve two issues. One, I will be able to enable ads on videos that feature my friends. I will then be able to easily know how much I can distribute to them. I already have apprehension on including anyone else in my videos because I really have no ideas which videos make money. I have a lot of ideas that will require more than just myself, but I really don’t want to underpay or overpay a co-creator. Two, it will give me a look into which of my videos do better in terms of ad revenue. For all I know, my most popular pet videos could be netting me less revenue than my less popular comedy videos. This would also be beneficial for YouTube because it will make me make videos that bring me (and by virtue YouTube) more ad revenue.

2. Thumbnail Selection
With tons of video sites letting creators pick from a vast array of thumbnails to represent their videos, I’m surprised that YouTube only allows you to pick from three. This means I still have to be very careful when editing my videos to make sure the quarter mark, halfway mark, or the three-quarters mark has a decent still shot. YouTube makes everything else easy when it comes to properly categorizing, tagging, and marketing your video. What is up with their limited thumbnail capabilities?

YouTube’s current model gives Partners incentive to inject a nice-looking scene or image into the middle of their video. Sometimes this completely ruins the flow of the videos, and it often breaks the fourth wall. I believe YouTube would benefit from better thumbnail selection because people’s videos would be better, people can edit videos faster, and people wouldn’t have to upload the same video multiple times. This will save YouTube some bandwidth. I hate it when I upload a video only to find out my thumbnails look horrible or blurry!

3. Direct Linking to a Specific Time within Annotations.
YouTube has done wonders with annotations and allowing people to link to other YouTube videos within their own videos. For better or worse, this has led to the creation of a lot of interactive videos. They’ve also recently added a cool feature where you can link to a specific time in any video. Now YouTube just needs to combine the two ideas. I would love to link to a specific time in any video within an annotation!

This would allow me to make an interactive video that is one video in size. I sort of like the concept of interactive videos, but I really hate how Partners have to upload twenty different videos. Maybe this is good for them because they get more views and ad revenue that way. But, at least allow me the option so I can have just one video. This should be a very easy fix. I think it will make the viewer experience much better.

Well, those are my ideas. I’ve already e-mailed YouTube a few times about them, but these changes haven’t been implemented yet. I think the first one is crucial, whereas the others are just fluff. But YouTube has been adding a lot more fluff lately, so maybe they will add these. Feel free to e-mail them as well and let them know if you’d like to see these ideas come to fruition. Also ask them to include a wide screen video player. Thanks for reading. I love you all.

See all and more of Zack’s works @

ZackScott.net –  BreakFacebookInstructables Metacafe PoptentRevver – Twitter –  You Tube

YouTube Thumbnail Isn’t Center Frame Anymore

For the last few videos I’ve uploaded to YouTube, I’ve discovered a disturbing trend. The default thumbnail (image that represents the video) isn’t predictable. YouTube appeared to be departing from the model of using the center frame and the 1/3 and 2/3 frame.

At the risk of spreading potential Twitter rumors, a little birdie says the center frame as thumbnail is RIP.

This is a really big deal if it’s not another technical glitch. I’ve discovered that almost nothing makes a video like the thumbnail. Not the title, creator, or content.

Many sites allow you to select from as many as 12 images. Some sites let you keep selecting/refreshing until you find just the right one (and even crop it). And there are even sites that allow you to upload a jpeg to represent the video.

So why would YouTube make it more difficult? Because thumbnails are often manipulated and because… YouTube can do whatever it wants now. The switching costs for viewers/creators is huge, and so we have a virtual monopoly. 

Here’s hoping reason prevails. It would be a shame to subject a creator (and viewer) to a random thumbnail. Unless a different thumbnail appears each time someone refreshes the video (which is far too complex for servers) then there’s a simple solution…

Upload OVER AND OVER until you get the one you like.
Yeah! That’ll spin some bandwidth.

This is especially an issue a problem as Google provides a new way to search video thumbnails without ever going to YouTube. Did you notice that if you now search Google for the word YouTube, you can refine your video search without leaving Google’s homepage? Interesting move and one that would appear to be good for viewers but unclear as to whether that helps/harms revenue for Google. Fewer display ads (Google results don’t have them) but perhaps a higher CPC (cost per click) and more opportunities to serve the text ad.

youtube google search refined

Metacafe Gives Viewers Wikipedia-Like Editing Control of Videos

It’s maddening when a creator tricks viewers with misleading thumbnails, titles, tags and descriptions. Until now, we’ve counted on the website’s search engine to solve that problem. But even YouTube’s Google-like sophistication still opens the door to tricks by Viral Video Villians.

Google learns from its users, and I imagine the YouTube search engine quietly gives primacy to videos that meet criteria we never see… such as open rate, duration of average view, related videos, and other metrics that YouTube can track to determine if the video is perceived as relevant or “good.”

Metacafe — without the funding or mother Google to help — has created a clever alternative. It’s giving edit rights to the viewer in true Wiki style. Just as anyone can edit a Wikipedia entry, Metacafe viewers can now edit the title, tags, description and even flag misleading thumbnails or duplicates (I flagged a “Farting in Public” ripoff just now). This is hard to explain, and a video is worth a million views. Watch Sherry in the video here to see how it works. I love this demo and not just because I make a surprise cameo.

I hope Metacafe doesn’t allow its creators to switch the hosts of it’s Metacafe Unfiltered series? Imagine how much better you could make this interview with KipKay, who has made more than $100,000 in advertising revenue on the website.

This begs a lot of questions. I can report a misleading thumbnail (the image you see representing a video before you play it), for instance, but I suspect human intervention is required, and perhaps that requires a few people reporting it. I can edit someone else’s video description, which introduces some risks of abuse initially (for instance, I could add my name to popular video tags but I’m sure it would erode a trust score and have little benefit to me). Ultimately the community will police the community, and that’s theoretically better and less expensive than editors or complex algorithms.

Wikicafe Beta: Hate Typos?The best bloopers are a click away


Exclusive, Leaked BS: How to Manipulate YouTube

cheating viral videosAll the bad advice on how to manipulate YouTube in one handy video. Where do I start?

Buried in this, actually, is some good advice… Like being creative about tagging with less competitive terms. And keeping a video shocking and fast, and coming up with clever names and thumbnails.

But much of it is futile (pay blogs to post, create fake accounts, use fake and misleading headlines with “exclusive” and “leaked”). I am hoping it’s subtle satire.

Some of the ideas are based on Dan Ackerman Greenberg, who received notoriety last November in TechCrunch for revealing his tricks (and some legitimate strategies) that help marketers spread viral videos. Here’s Dan on CNN discussing his tricks o’ the trade from San Francisco. I was so amused and perplexed by Dan that I created a special URL for him last year (per this post):  www.viralvideovillain.com. I still want to meet you, Dan. We can pretend we’re the witches from The Wizard of Oz.
That said, the creator (RunawayBox) made this video a reply to CakkeTeam‘s beloved “Internet Stars are Viral.” And I kinda like that video because I’m in it. Dang shame it never went very viral…

internet stars are viral

YouTube Sketchies (and Stupid Thumbnail Ad by Dove)

sketchies.pngYou have until March 3 to enter your comedy video into the first round of YouTube’s Sketchies II. Corolla, leveraged popular YouTuber LisaNova to promote the contest (she was second place last year with this “LisaNova does George Bush” video).

I spoke with LisaNova via phone for the first time on Saturday, when TheMightyThor1212 was good enough to put her on the line while at the YouTube San Francisco gathering.

Here’s a recap (wish I had videotaped it since it doesn’t quite translate as a manuscript):

  • dove.pngNalts: Hey, Lisa
  • Lisa: Hey
  • Nalts: Are you getting bombarded?
  • Lisa: What?
  • Nalts: I’m a big fan. I liked your recent video about the comedy contest.
  • Lisa: Which one?
  • Nalts: You know- the one on the beanbag. With your face on the homepage.
  • Lisa: Oh- the Sketchies.
  • Nalts: Yeah. Will you do the BubbleGumTreeShow? (a show featuring viral creators, like Mark Day, who will perhaps be juding the Sketchies?).
  • Lisa: Sure. Just send me the information.
  • Nalts: Kay. Have fun.
  • Lisa: Some kids is asking me to autograph their shirt.
  • Nalts: Go make their day. Nice speaking with you.
  • Lisa: Nice speaking with you too, Renetto.

Too bad I don’t have a screen grab of the YouTube homepage when it featured LisaNova’s video. It was framed so the ridiculously huge gray play button doesn’t obscure LisaNova’s face. Unlike the image here by Dove.

Honestly. Who lets an ad like this go live?

dove2.pngJust before I posted this, I hit refresh and found this version. Now instead of featuring the Dove host, they’ve got an image from the winning entry (by Celeste Wouden) of the Dove Cream Oil Body Wash advertisement contest.

Hmmm. Two-star rating with the last 4 being the lowest possible. Hmmm. Either the YouTube audience doesn’t care for this video or some of the losers are launching an attack on this video.

Too bad about the thumbnails. You know, Dove, this gal isn’t going to drive nearly as many clicks as a woman with a slender neck and face shaped like a play button.