Are you a YouTube junkie? Apparently there are a lot of them out there. According to a Wall Street Journal Digits article and comScore there over 100 million YouTube users in the US that average watching 68 videos per month. Wow. I certainly keep that average down but I suppose watching just over 2 videos a day, every day of the month is reasonable. I prefer to think of it as a little lame (don’t people have something better to do?) but that is just my opinion.
So if you are YouTube what would your next move be? Of course they are working on the advertising and further monetization model. What goes hand in hand with that though is figuring out a way to make that average number of videos watched increase so more ads can be served and more money can be made. Makes sense but how to do it?
Today, YouTube takes a fairly rudimentary approach to surfacing new videos. Watch one video about Van Halen and YouTube will recommend a dozen other similar clips featuring the rock band. But “at some point you don’t want to see any more Van Halen videos,” said Hunter Walk, a director of product management at YouTube. “You get Van Halen fatigue.”
So Walk and his team are now trying to figure out how to find new topics to engage users, a process he calls “manufacturing spontaneity.” The “serendipity of YouTube,” he said, is to show people a “selection of videos you didn’t intend to see but are very compatible. I didn’t come here to watch this. But somehow I find myself watching 10 videos about topic blah.”
First, how Van Halen fatigue is possible is the start of whole other debate but don’t you feel real good about a product manager that uses the terminology referring to your valuable time as “watching 10 videos on topic blah”?
The example given in the article about some connections that YouTube might make based on your viewing history (thank you Google for allowing us to be tracked and categorized by you every step of the way) shows there may be some flaws in the process. The suggestion is made that maybe someone watching the Van Halen video might want to see something about scuba diving. Huh? Sure, Van Halen released an album (yes an album) called “Diver Down” back in the 80’s but saying that someone watching a Van Halen video related to that is interested in actual scuba diving is pretty funny. Considering the likelihood of this video watcher’s lung capacity being severely compromised due to other habits formed from being a Van Halen fan and the fact that they are probably just reminiscing about the good old days etc, etc, well you get the picture.
Apparently early experiments with various techniques are showing promise, though. I wonder if Google is in cahoots with the diet industry since it seems hell bent on developing more people spending time in front a screen rather than say, actually walking?
YouTube is rolling out other discovery mechanisms too, including personalized recommendations based on viewing history. And it implemented a feature Google recently launched for its Web search, called the wonder wheel, which suggests different topical “spokes” related to the content a person is searching for.
In a separate interview, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley said the site is also working on tools that allows people to discover videos being watched by their friends and co-workers.
So how many YouTube are you watching? Would you like more suggestions to show you even more? Are you meeting your RDVA (Recommended Daily Video Allowance) of about 2 videos per day every day of your life or do you actually have other things to do?