In the past, YouTube and its parent company, Google, have played very coy when it comes to its search and recommendation algorithms. Instead of explaining how it choose which videos to suggest, the video platform has preferred to simply offer tips for increasing a channel’s visibility.

Now, the company’s VP of Engineering is opening up, with what is likely the most in-depth explanation of how the company chooses and ranks which videos appear on users’ home screens. 

In a blog post and corresponding video Q&A,  Cristos Goodrow aims to provide specific answers about what signals matter, which don’t, and how the YouTube recommendation system works under the hood:

“We want these systems to be publicly understood, so let me explain how they work, how they’ve evolved, and why we’ve made delivering responsible recommendations our top priority.”

The Goal of YouTube Recommendations

First and foremost, Cristos lays out that the company recognizes the immense influence of its recommendation algorithm and works intensely to deliver videos that will make each viewer satisfied across their huge range of tastes and interests.

As Goodrow says, “there’s an audience for almost every video, and the job of our recommendation system is to find that audience.”

How Watchtime and Retention Affect Recommendations

Both overall video watchtime and retention rates are widely believed to factor into how likely a channel’s videos are to be included in users’ recommendations. What is much less clear, is whether raw viewing times or retention rates matter more. 

Unfortunately, Goodrow can’t provide much clarification here because the answer varies on a case-by-case basis. 

He explains that YouTube’s data generally shows that viewers who stick around for a greater percentage of a video are more likely to be satisfied. However, this is not the case for every type of video. 

For example, some types of videos tend to have lower retention rates but are still able to provide viewers with the information they are seeking. 

Additionally, the algorithm considers users’ viewing habits when deciding how to rank videos. How much weight it puts into a video’s watchtime and retention varies entirely based on which factor the algorithm believes is most important to each user.

Why Getting Recommended Takes Time

Newer creators often express frustration regarding how difficult it can seem to be to make it into recommendations. In many cases, it can take months before any of a channel’s videos start getting recommended. Even worse, the videos that get recommended may be months old at this point, making them potentially outdated or irrelevant. 

According to Goodrow, though, this is not intended to occur. YouTube’s recommendation system ideally will start surfacing videos immediately after they are uploaded to ensure the best performance. 

Where this breaks down is in trying to understand and recommend videos from new channels.

Without signals from users, YouTube doesn’t always understand exactly who a channel or video is relevant for. In this case, it may take longer for the system to start recommending the channel’s videos while it gathers more information.

Why Big Channels Dominate The Recommended Feed

Another point of contention for many YouTube users is that the recommended feed seems to favor larger, more established creators who are already well known. Instead, many say they want to see more content from new channels they have never heard of before.

Unfortunately, this problem is a result of the same issues driving the problem detailed above. 

Without information from users about the quality or value of a channel’s videos, it is hard for YouTube to accurately recommend the channel and its content for users. 

Because of this, driving user engagement through likes, subscribes, and comments is crucial for helping smaller channels be included in the recommendations. 


The full blog post and video from Cristos Goodrow go into much, much more detail about YouTube’s recommendation systems and how it selects which videos to highlight. If your brand is using the platform to connect with new audiences, build a loyal following, or drive sales, I strongly encourage checking them out for more when you have the time.

If there is anyone who knows what works on Facebook Ads, it’s probably Facebook. Thankfully, the company is eager to share its data to help advertisers make the best ads possible. 

Facebook Ads did just that this week with a new list of 11 ways to improve your video ads based on their latest data and research.

Why Video Ads?

Many brands and advertisers are still reluctant to indulge in video ads, fearing they may be more costly, less effective, or more difficult to manage.

According to the report, however, none of these are true. In fact, the company has seen that for every dollar invested into video ads on the platform, there is a 39% higher chance to drive sales compared to static social ads.

Even more, the budget, placement, or targeting have less impact on the success of video ads than you may think. According to Facebook Ads, 70% of the potential ROI from video ads comes from how you use the format to get attention and inspire action, while just 30% comes from details like where the ad is shown.

To ensure your video ads are inspiring potential customers to take action, Facebook put together these tips for improving your future video ad campaigns.

11 Ways To Improve Your Video Ads

Facebook breaks this collection of tips into two groups: ‘Best Practice’ and ‘Highly Recommended’.

Best Practice 

  1. Frame For Mobile: Based on user activity, most users will be seeing your video on mobile. Keep this in mind when framing your video with the recommended vertical 4:5 format on Facebook or 1:1 square format on Instagram.
  2. Create For Sound-Off Viewing: By default, your video will be played without audio. If your video ad is going to be successful, it needs to be understandable and engaging without sound.
  3. Focus on the Product: Facebook recommends focusing your creative for video ads directly on a product or feature, rather than your entire business.
  4. Have a Single Message: As with all advertising, it is important to present a single, clear message in any promotion. Trying to do too much in a single ad will just overwhelm or push away potential customers.
  5. Highlight Branding Early: The report recommends placing your branding and message at the start of a video to grab attention and retain potential customers.
  6. Be Straight To The Point: On that note, putting a clear message up front makes it easier for consumers to understand what you’re hoping to accomplish and what you have to offer them.
  7. Use Movement & Faster Editing Early: Having movement or quick edits near the start of your video ads helps grab attention and may motivate viewers to keep watching.

Highly Recommended

  1. Brevity Is Key: People viewing on mobile devices have limited time, short attention-spans, and are quick to scroll away if you start to lose them. It is important to keep your videos short for most impact.
  2. Don’t Follow Old Rules: Traditional ads on TV and radio are structured with the assumption that users will remain tuned in no matter what. This allows time to build up a story to grab interest. Online video doesn’t offer this comfort. Instead, start your videos with a bang to capture attention quickly. 
  3. Don’t Be Afraid of Twists or Surprises: Including more gasp-inducing moments in your video ads can be a good way to hold viewers’ attention throughout your entire video.
  4. Think Visually: Since sound is typically off, it is important to use visually grabbing features like bright colors or product close-ups to keep viewers engaged.

To learn more about what Facebook has learned from its video ads research, read the full report here.

YouTube announced that it is introducing an entirely new feed to the front page of its mobile app to help users find videos and creators they’ve never seen before. 

As such, the “New to You” feed also aims to introduce creators and channels to wider audiences.

The announcement – in the latest Creator Insider video – says that users have been increasingly complaining that their video recommendations are getting boring. Not only do they tend to show the same type of content over and over, YouTube’s recommendations also have a bad habit of suggesting videos you’ve already watched. 

To address this, the video platform created a feed exclusively containing videos and channels from a wider range of sources – and excluding anything you’ve already seen.

Two Ways To Explore New To You

The new feed will be available on the homepage in two distinct ways.

The first way is called New to You on refresh and is reachable through a dedicated button at the top of the page, within the topic carousel. 

YouTube's New to You Feed on Refresh

When tapped, the page will refresh with content from the New to You feed. 

New to You on prompt is the second way to explore the feed.

YouTube's New To You feed on prompt

This triggers if you scroll far enough down the main feed without selecting anything to watch. 

After scrolling down far enough, a prompt will appear which suggests checking out the “New to You” feed.

How New To You Differs From The Explore Feed

At first glance, the New to You feed might seem very similar to YouTube’s existing Explore feed, though YouTube was quick to establish how they are different. 

The main distinction is that YouTube Explore helps users find trending content from a specific topic. However, the content is not necessarily personalized for users.

The New to You feed, in comparison, is entirely personalized based on your own viewing habits. 

This means the New to You section may be more likely to show channels and videos directly related to your interests, instead of videos which all fit under a broad topic like “video games” or “music”. 

It is unclear exactly when the new feed will be available to all users, but you can find out more about the New to You feed in the announcement video below:

In a video shared across social media recently, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, emphatically stated that the social network is about more than just sharing pictures. 

These days, the app has expanded into a more multifaceted social platform and will continue to by prioritizing four key aspects of its services.

Instagram’s Four Big Priorities Moving Forward

As a social network, Instagram’s first priority is and will always be its users, particularly the creators who fuel the platform with new engaging and exciting content every day. To further this goal, the company is emphasizing providing creators with ways to earn a living through new monetization approaches.

The second priority for Instagram is developing its video services. The social network has expanded the ways users can both create and discover videos and will continue to do so in the future. As other popular social video platforms like TikTok have provided new competition for Instagram, the platform is experimenting with new approaches to mobile-first video to keep users coming back to the social network.

Following the meteoric rise in online shopping during the COVID pandemic, Instagram is also prioritizing expanding its online shopping tools and services. While Mosseri didn’t offer specific steps Instagram is taking to achieve this goal, he said that he sees the shift to online shopping continuing to grow as shoppers find new ways to confidently and safely purchase the products they see across the platform.

Lastly, Mosseri says that Instagram is prioritizing bolstering its messaging tools. The company head explained that users are moving away from sharing everything publicly in their feeds and stories, and instead want more tools for sharing content in private messages.

Instagram’s Big Video Plans

Of the above priorities, Mosseri spoke most at length about Instagram’s big plans for investing in video tools and services moving forward.

Though the platform has widely been seen as a primarily photo-based app, Mosseri bluntly stated “we’re no longer a photo sharing app.” 

Instead, the company’s goal is to keep users entertained with a variety of content types.

Particularly, the company is working to bring itself inline with other massive social video platforms like TikTok and YouTube.

This is a broad initiative which will influence many of the company’s upcoming tools and features, with some being publicly tested over the next couple months. 

For example, one new test involving showing users video content from accounts they may not be following yet started rolling out last week, while another test allowing users to control which topics they want to see more or less of is being launched this week.

“We’re also going to be experimenting with how do we embrace video more broadly — full screen, immersive, entertaining, mobile-first video. And so you’ll see us do a number of things, or experiment with a number of things in this space over the coming months.”

If you want to see the full video statement from head of Instagram Adam Mosseri, check it out below:

YouTube is launching a series of new features which aim to make community posts more engaging and give creators data on how their community posts are performing.

Since their creation in 2019, creators have had very little information on how many people are seeing their posts, instead having to rely entirely on likes, dislikes, and comments directly on the posts. 

Along with finally providing analytics data on these posts, YouTube is adding the ability to include more images in community posts, as well as letting iOS users schedule their posts ahead of time. 

Let’s explore all these new updates in more depth:

YouTube Community Posts Get Analytics Data

Creators can finally see data on their community posts directly in YouTube Analytics, after years of waiting. 

Specifically, the analytics suite will start showing information on how many times your posts have been shown and how the content is performing without having to look at individual posts. 

For the moment, these metrics are exclusive to the desktop version of YouTube Analytics, though the company says it will be bringing them to its Studio Mobile app at some point in the future. 

As the video announcing the features explained, the company wants to help creators who have been asking for community post analytics better understand their content’s performance and use this information to help create more engaging posts in the future. 

Add Multiple Images To YouTube Community Posts

Since their launch, YouTube community posts have limited creators to just a single banner image which was used as a thumbnail for each post. Thankfully, that is starting to change.

Creators can now add up to 5 pictures per each community post, allowing you to express yourself more, better engage readers, and create an experience more in-line with other social platforms. 

For example, you can use a post to tease an upcoming project with preview images, show the process behind your videos, or even showcase your experiences interacting with fans or clients directly in your content. 

At launch, this ability will only be available to users on Android devices. Support for iOS and desktop should arrive later this year. 

Schedule Community Posts on iOS

The last update is short and simple, but it has been something Apple device users have been begging for. Creators can now schedule their community posts ahead of time from iOS versions of the YouTube app. 

This feature has been available on desktop and Android for some time, so this means post scheduling is now available to everyone with the ability to create community posts. 

How To Create YouTube Community Posts

If you’re unfamiliar, community posts are a type of social content found in a channel’s “Community” tab which creators can share between or alongside proper video uploads. 

These posts can contain images, videos, text, playlists, GIFs, and even polls – making them a great way to directly connect with your audience. 

The only requirement to be able to create community posts is having 1,000 subscribers on your channel. Once you have hit that benchmark, the process to create a post is simple:

  • Sign in to YouTube
  • Click the “Create” button
  • Click “Create Post”

Though community posts might not be the most visible content on YouTube, they allow a way to directly communicate with your community without having to stream or record a full video on your channel. Additionally, this is where many turn for information about when to expect videos, what you’re cooking up, and find out exactly what your viewers are most interested in.

That makes these new features – all of which are available now to those eligible to share community posts – a valuable tool to build a robust community around your content. 

For more, check out the creator Insider video below:

YouTube is expanding the amount of data available to video creators while rolling out an updated version of the YouTube Studio Mobile app.

Accompanying the release of the updated app, the video platform is offering video creators new information on traffic sources, returning viewers, and more in-depth data on how viewers are watching your content. 

Below we are going to dig into the new metrics and app in-depth:

Expanded Viewer Data In YouTube Studio

Living Room Impressions

Before the end of the month, YouTube says it will start showing creators data on what it is calling “living room impressions” or views coming from TV-based sources like built-in TV apps, Rokus, or video game consoles. 

Of course, YouTube has already been counting these streams within its broader metrics like watch time and total views. However, this allows you to see exactly how your viewers are engaging with your content and help optimize your videos for where most people are viewing them.

New or Returning Viewers

Though you have been able to see how many new subscribers you are getting since seemingly forever ago, YouTube has generally overlooked the group of viewers who keep returning to channels even if they aren’t actually subscribed. In many ways, these viewers can be more valuable because they are actively searching out your content on a regular basis, rather than simply relying on it to pop up in their feed.

Now, YouTube is introducing a metric breaking down which viewers are new to your channel and who is returning – whether they are subscribed or not. 

Not only does this provide a more accurate view of your channel’s health and community engagement, it also helps you plan topics based on past viewer response. 

Despite this data being available to the vast majority of creators, YouTube says it will not be present for copyrighted content owners or artistic channels. 

Updates to YouTube Studio Mobile

Redesigned Real-Time Data Card

YouTube is updating its real-time analytics card in the Studio Mobile app analytics section to make it easier to see exactly how specific videos are performing in the moment. These changes include:

  • Thumbnails: The real-time card now displays thumbnails for individual videos.
  • Sorting: The real-time card now sorts videos by view count rather than the date videos were published.
  • Amount of videos: The card now shows up to 15 videos – ten more than the previous limit of five videos.

Updates to Tabs

Along with the new data, YouTube is redesigning its tabs in the Studio Mobile app with a larger focus on alignment. Following the update, all the most-used tabs are aligned, including audience, reach, engagement, overview, and revenue.

At the same time, the company has removed a few cards from these tabs, saying the cards were rarely used on mobile. All of these sections are still fully visible on desktop.

For more information on the new metrics available and the refreshed app, watch the Creator Insider video below:

YouTube’s latest video format, called YouTube Shorts, is finally coming to the USA next month, after several months of testing internationally.

The short (15 seconds or less) vertical video format was first rolled out as a beta test in India back in September 2020. Though it may have taken a little bit to catch on, YouTube says that the number of channels using the video format has more than tripled since December.

Currently, the platform says YouTube Shorts are getting more than 3.5 billion daily views in India alone. 

Come March, US users will be able to see what all the buzz about as the format and associated video creation tools arrive in America.

What Are YouTube Shorts?

Unsurprisingly, many have compared YouTube Shorts to TikTok clips or the popular Stories format found on several other platforms. This is because YouTube Shorts share a number of features with the increasingly trendy format:

  • Users can create and upload short videos of 15 seconds or less.
  • Edit your videos with a range of creative tools.
  • Stitch several short clips together with a multi-segment editor.
  • Add licensed music to your videos through YouTube’s music library.
  • Speed up or slow down your video footage for dramatic effect.
  • Use timers and countdowns to plan your video shoots.

Additionally, the company says it is introducing a carousel on the YouTube homepage dedicated completely to Shorts.

YouTube Shorts Aim To Make Content Creation Easier For All

One of YouTube’s biggest goals with the new video format is to make the barrier to content creation and exposure on the platform lower for new creators:

“Every year, increasing numbers of people come to YouTube to launch their own channel. But we know there’s still a huge amount of people who find the bar for creation too high.

That’s why we’re working on Shorts, our new short-form video tool that lets creators and artists shoot snappy videos with nothing but their mobile phones.”

With YouTube Shorts users can immediately start creating their own content without the need for high-quality equipment or editing skills.

Even more enticing, YouTube says it is going to count Shorts views the same way as regular video views – creating a fast pathway for big metrics for new users. This will also make it easier for new users to reach the milestones needed to monetize content through the YouTube Partner Program.

More is sure to come in the next few weeks as YouTube seems poised to prioritize Shorts in big ways. 

In the next few weeks, the company is launching a dedicated biweekly Shorts Report to highlight all the latest updates and provide useful tips to users. Keep your eyes peeled as new info as the biweekly reports start arriving and YouTube Shorts finally come to the US.

According to an update on the YouTube Help page, Google Analytics has stopped collecting new data from YouTube channels beginning February 1st. 

While older data is still available, any new information will be available solely through YouTube Studio. 

The change doesn’t come as a particularly big surprise. Users lost the ability to link Google Analytics and YouTube pages in November of last year. However, connected channels were able to keep tracking data from YouTube until now. 

Most likely already rely on YouTube Analytics for monitoring their channel performance, as it has always offered significantly more information compared to what could be found in Google Analytics. The ability to track major YouTube metrics through Google’s tool set was more about conveniently checking both platforms at the same time. 

Still, those affected received little warning about the change. The only information relating to the decision was buried in a YouTube Help page. 

What You Should Know About YouTube Analytics

While YouTube Analytics offers all the information you have come to expect from Google Analytics (and more), there are a couple key differences. 

Most importantly, you don’t have to add any tracking code, pixels, or anything else to get your data. YouTube collects information about engagement, views, and more for your channel and videos automatically. 

You will also find more granular information, with everything from specific audience details for every video on your channel, revenue information, and search terms used to find your channel. 

All of this is collected within five main tabs:

  • Overview: This section collects essential broad metrics for your channel, like watch time, total views, and subscribers. Here you will find reports addressing top videos, realtime activity, latest videos, and average performance. 
  • Reach: The ‘Reach’ tab shows your overall connection with YouTube users with data on impressions and clicks. Users can get reports for traffic source types, top external sources, impressions, and search terms in this section.
  • Engagement: Now, we start moving deeper to exactly what your viewers are watching on your channel as shown by total watch minutes. Read reports for top videos and playlists, top cards, and end screens here.
  • Audience: Explore who your viewers are with data on unique viewers, average videos watched per viewer, and overall subscriber growth. Reports included here cover audience location, demographics, and other channels they interact with. 
  • Revenue: If you are a member of the YouTube Partner Program, you will also find this tab that addresses how much money is being generated through monetized videos. 

For a brief guide on YouTube Studio Analytics, watch the video from the YouTube Creators channel below:

YouTube has created an entirely new type of search results which makes it easier to find videos when browsing using hashtags. 

This isn’t YouTube’s first take at using hashtags to find new videos. The company introduced the feature way over two years ago and has been trying to integrate the feature into its main feed. 

Unfortunately, the result has always been pretty hit or miss because the search results would also include videos which didn’t include the hashtag. 

Now, YouTube has updated the feature with dedicated search results pages for hashtags, which only contain media tagged with those specific hashtags. 

For example, here’s a version of the #SEO search results captured by Matt Southern over at Search Engine Journal:

Along with directly typing the hashtag into search results, users can also click hashtags included in videos to continue browsing the related topic. 

Use Hashtags To Find Your Niche

One aspect of this which can be very helpful to businesses and marketers is the prominent count of how often a particular hashtag has been used. Along with the total number of videos including the hashtag, you can also see how many channels have published videos on that topic. 

That means you can easily gauge how competitive a hashtag’s search results might be and scope out tags which haven’t been overdone. 

This means you can cut out the competition and become the prime source for discussion, news, and products or services related to your niche.

Why Does YouTube Use Hashtags?

Since their introduction, hashtags have been a bit of a curiosity on YouTube. On other social networks, hashtags are typically used to find the latest content relating to popular or trending topics. The nature of YouTube content, however, makes this a harder sell.

With this in mind, YouTube is still struggling to cement exactly why users should opt for using hashtags over more defined search terms when searching the site. 

Still, the revamped search results pages are a step in the right direction, creating a more central hub for videos on the topics you are interested in.

YouTube announced a pretty big change to how it manages ads for longer videos across the platform. Effective immediately, the video streaming platform is turning post-roll ads on by default for all monetized videos that run over 10 minutes long.

This means any video over that length will automatically include these ads, unless you explicitly opt-out. 

The news came as part of the first news update of 2021 from YouTube’s Creator Insider channel. 

In the video, a YouTube representative tells creators:

“For monetizing creators, any videos over 10 minutes in length will automatically have post-roll ads turned on by default.”

What Are Post-Roll Ads?

When it comes to online videos and video advertising, there are essentially three different types of ads: pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll. 

Pre-roll ads run before your video ever starts. Mid-roll ads interrupt your content, similar to TV commercials appearing in the middle of your favorite show. Post-roll ads run after your video has completed. 

The obvious benefit to post-roll ads is that they are the least intrusive to the viewing experience. The viewer loses nothing by moving on to a different video.

Importantly, for any type of ad to be shown on your videos, you must have applied for and been accepted to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). 

How This Might Affect You

With this change, all types of ads are now turned on by default. That means viewers will be shown ads before, during, and after your video.

Even if it is a 20-minute long video or longer, that can add up to be a whole lot of advertising for online audiences. 

This can cause burnout or frustration, potentially pushing viewers away from your channel over time. 

On their own, there is nothing inherently wrong with including post-roll ads on your videos. They may even become the preferred ad placement for many content creators. 

However, this change makes it more important than ever to strategically manage where ads will appear on your videos and take more active control of your advertising settings. 

If you’d like to find out more about post-roll ads or YouTube’s new ad policy, check out the Creator Insider video below: