Is YouTube’s New Suggested Video Algorithm a Smart Move?
by BlakeFife April 4th, 2012
YouTube recently made changes to its suggested video algorithm. In case you missed it, here’s the scoop: YouTube has decided to put emphasis on video content that is more “engaging.” The move initially intended to rid your YouTube experience of videos with misleading thumbnails (because they enticed clicks, but ultimately disappointed the viewers). Makes sense…
However, herein lies a question: Which factors determine engagement?
According to a recently updated YouTube help article, “The viewer’s total watch time is what matters for this algorithm.” So, a two-minute video that is viewed an average of 60 seconds is given more weight (in other words, determined to be more engaging) than a 30-second video that is viewed an average of 28 seconds? If total watch time is a deciding factor for the recent changes, then we may have a problem.
As a content creator myself, I understand the importance of keeping your audience engaged throughout the majority of your video. Not everyone will watch to the end, I know that, but if I can keep my targeted audience engaged for 93% of the time (28-seconds of a 30-second video), then I feel my content should be given a higher “engagement grade” than content that is viewed for 50% of its overall length (one minute of a two-minute video). But according to the recent changes, this shorter content will be less likely to show up in the recommended and suggested video section.
As much as I dislike YouTube’s emphasis on overall time versus the percentage of time viewed of video content, I believe other social factors will continue to play a huge role in determining whether or not your original content will be pushed to the top of the recommended video section. Social factors, such as video likes (or shall I say Google +1s?), comments, and social-sharing across networks should not be ignored when it comes to video content and your YouTube strategy.
Only time will tell if YouTube continues to look at overall time viewed versus percentage of time viewed when determining how engaging a video is. But even with that major hiccup, YouTube’s new “suggested video” algorithm is a smart one. The notion of eliminating related videos based solely on views was a good call, as a “view” can be as few as 15 seconds.
In theory, engagement-based results are the way to go, but come on YouTube, let’s be a bit more clear on what constitutes engagement.
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