YouTube has added a new option when you click the share button underneath a video. It says, “Watch with your friends. Start a Google+ Hangout.”
Now, Hangouts have been around since the day that the Google+ project was announced. On June 28, Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President, Engineering, said on the Official Google Blog, “Whether it’s inside a pub or on a front porch, human beings have always enjoyed hanging out. And why not? It’s how we unwind, recharge, and spend unscheduled time with old and new friends alike. Hanging out is deceptively simple though, and the nuance gets lost online.”
Here’s how “The Google+ Project: Hangouts” explained the benefits of “the spontaneous get-together” and “some ways we’ve been rethinking real-life sharing.”
So, Google+ created Hangouts to make on-screen gatherings “fun, fluid and serendipitous.”
And now YouTube has made starting a Google+ Hangout as easy as clicking on a link, which pops up a browser window that prompts you to choose which Google+ Circles you’d like to share the video with in a Hangout. Then, click share and your Hangout will start.
Why is this important to marketers? Because it’s another indication that video viewing is much more social than TV viewing.
The first indication appeared back on July 25, 2007, when the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reported: “The picture of the lone internet user, buried in his or her computer, does not ring true with most who view online video.”
Back then, 57 percent of online video viewers had watched with other people, such as friends or family. And young adults were the most social online video viewers; three out of four video consumers (73 percent) ages 18-29 said they had watched with others.
In other words, most online video viewers watch YouTube with other people once a week – the way most TV viewers get together for a Super Bowl party once a year. With Hangouts, this social viewing phenomenon might become a daily experience – like walking into the pub after work still is in the UK or stepping onto your best friend’s front porch after school once was in the U.S.
How significant is this development? It’s big. It could even lead to Facebook’s downfall. Just imagine what it might have been like when “Hitler Learns of Google Plus.”
OK, so maybe watching YouTube videos with your friends in a Google+ Hangout won’t change the world quite so dramatically. But, it’s still a significant development.