YouTube is hoping to be recognized as a top destination for original Web programming. To get there, Google is making some changes. Google has axed Google Video, publicly invested in Machinima, and loaned $300 million to 100 original YouTube-based channels. So far, the efforts are paying off. Nielsen began publicly reporting streaming measurements of top YouTube partners beginning in May, and VidCon, the largest online video conference around, hosted 7,000 online video professionals this year (many from YouTube), up from 1,500 in 2011. While YouTube has a long way to go, the platform is undergoing constant improvements, some of which you may not be aware of. The following are announced and rumored changes that you may be seeing on YouTube during the next several months.
Quashing the YouTube comment trolls
YouTube comments are known to be vitriolic, racist, and downright stupid, so much so that the comments are often reposted to Reddit and mocked for their idiocy. While video owners can turn off the comments, Dror Shimshowitz, YouTube’s “senior product manager,” indicated that Google prefers comments to be turned on to keep the community engaged. But keeping in mind that the comments are often cesspools of low-brow rhetoric, Shimshowitz revealed at Google I/O, that YouTube engineers have been hard at work with fixing the current commenting system.
So far, Google has taken some measures to persuade YouTube users to step back from publishing acerbic comments. Highly rated comments are now highlighted, and users have the option to link their YouTube account to their real names provided by Google+. However these are merely opt-in measures that are far from preventative. Exactly when and how YouTube will release new features that excise the comment trolls remains to be seen.
Subscriptions for cable channels
According to Salar Kamanger, CEO of YouTube, who spoke at the Reuters Global Media and Technology Summit in New York City, cable networks with smaller audiences have been approaching YouTube with propositions to make the video platform the cable network’s Web-based home. The network’s motivation lies in low affiliate fees from cable distributors. Consequently, YouTube toyed around with the option of selling subscription services to consumers who are looking to offer professional-grade videos provided by cable channels. But the high cost of bringing traditional programming to YouTube has prevented it from happening so far.
While the possibility of cable subscriptions on YouTube continues to exist, other cable networks are formulating their Web programming strategy by taking more aggressive measures. For example rather than waiting on the possibility that YouTube may offer subscriptions, and deciding not to sinking millions of dollars into the risky development of its own original programming, Discovery Communication acquired the existing successful content creator and distributor, Revision 3.
Ideally, for advertisers, YouTube’s design would present both its original programming content and videos from everyone else in a balanced way. In its current state of design, this is more of a dream than reality, but it’s a work in progress.
YouTube recently began testing a new design of its site with a limited number of users. The design focused on a minimalistic style that sported white space, and excised general categories for a list of the user’s subscribed channels on the left hand column.
“With more videos coming to YouTube every minute we’re always experimenting with ways to help people more easily find, watch, and share the videos that matter most to them,” Google said in a statement. “As always, we’ll consider rolling changes out more broadly based on user feedback on these experiments.”
When Google announced its testing, GoogleWatchBlog revealed a trick whereby users could input a piece of code into their browser console to test out the new YouTube design. However when we attempt to insert the code today, we were redirected to YouTube’s existing design, which begs to wonder if the feedback had been negative and working on a new design altogether, if YouTube is prepared to launch the redesign to all users, or if the design has been scrapped.
YouTube “Marketplace” connects advertisers with content creators
At Vidcon, YouTube vice president of product management, Shishir Mehrota, announced the debut of “Video Creation Marketplace,” a platform that serves as a matchmaker between YouTube partners and advertisers looking for a branding opportunity. We all know that sports stars are able to afford lavish lifestyles due with endorsements from Nike, Gatorade, or even Rolex. YouTubers aren’t so different.
Partners interested in participating in the Marketplace are asked to fill out a profile of their previous partnerships and sponsorship experiences. This information enables advertisers to search and filter through prospective partners based on keywords, target demographic, and content type. Seeing as how the Marketplace is merely a platform, YouTube does not serve as an intermediary in the negotiations between the advertiser and YouTube partner.
Branding opportunities with influential YouTube personalities can often be a goldmine. Not surprisingly, style and make-up gurus on YouTube are known to be endorsed heavily by the cosmetics and clothing brands, due to the impact that these YouTubers have on their audience’s purchasing habits. For YouTube, bridging this gap is crucial and gives advertisers one more reason to rely on YouTube with its advertising dollars.
Edit: A change has been reflected for Dror Shimshowitz’s title at YouTube, which was initially stated as “head of product.” His title at YouTube is “senior product manager.”