Seeing more content on the YouTube homepage? In an announcement made April 23 via the YouTube Creators blog, YouTube let users and creators know that there would be a change, or rather a series of changes, coming to the homepage feed (or sub-box) and the way that it is organized.
These updates rolled into effect for most users within a week and have changed the way that logged-in users interact with their subscriptions by providing more videos.
Until recently users saw a feed on their homepage with single video posts. The goal of the adding more videos to the feed is to increase user engagement and video watch time by providing more personalized content that users are likely to click on and watch.
YouTube will continue to focus on the personalization of the feeds contents and organization with future updates.
The variations of activity posts that we’ve seen include:
- Recent Videos: Two (vertical) or three (horizontal) of the most recent videos from a channel.
- Popular Videos: The three most popular videos from a channel, with an option to scroll left and see more.
- Uploaded Videos: Single upload posts, much like you would see in the “My Subscriptions” tab.
- Additional Activity: Notifications of activity (Comments and subscriptions) from subscribed channels and Google+ activity .
- Recommended Videos: A mix of videos recommended by YouTube. Outside of your subscriptions, these videos are popular videos with shared interest audiences.
The organization and prioritization of these types of updates will depend largely on your viewing behavior. An example given by YouTube was, if you watch more videos from your subscriptions than from search and other sources, your recommended videos will be pushed below the fold in favor of your subscriptions. Similarly, it is likely that users engaged with comments and on Google+ will see content of that vain higher as well.
What it Means for Users
YouTube is hoping that this will encourage a new way to use the homepage and therefore more time spent watching videos. By creating a feed that is tailored to your behavior, YouTube hopes to create a tailored experience and keep you on site.
Much like social feeds and personalized search results, YouTube will be incorporating machine learning into the algorithm to base recommendations off of the interactions users are making with channels and videos.
Users should consider this a statement of intent by YouTube and expect additional changes as well as new types of content to pop up as they sort out the kinks and test new ideas. Scrolling down the somewhat confusing page, if users want a clean feed of new uploads, they can still go to their subscription page and look at the newest videos from their subscribed channels.
What it Means for Brands
The expanded Sub-Box for YouTube users means more visibility for brands and a new opportunity for continued engagement with your most engaged audience. Like Facebook, where the feed is largely dependent on user engagement, brands should only expect to have good positioning in the feeds of their most-engaged subscribers. In the feeds of this audience, YouTube now has your back and will give your brand good positioning regardless of how recently you have uploaded content.
It is in their best interest for your videos to be seen and played, but to benefit it is still up to brands to create quality content that builds an audience and stimulates engagement and ongoing interest.
What to Watch For Next
I expect that one outcome of personalized feeds will be better demographic ad targeting through improved Interest data. Similarly, promoted videos in the feed are a likely goal for YouTube, but to make that a viable option, the feed needs to be established as a popular feature. On a site largely used as a search engine, grabbing user attention on the homepage will be an uphill battle.