YouTube is changing how it previews videos on its home tab by making all videos silently autoplay by default.

The new “Autoplay on Home,” as it is being called, is expected to roll out to all mobile users on iOS and Android devices within the coming weeks.

If you are a subscriber to YouTube Premium, you may already be familiar with the feature. YouTube has given its premium subscribers access to the feature for the past six months.

As the company explains in the announcement, the change was made based on user feedback. Many have been clamoring for a way to better preview videos before clicking, especially as many thumbnail images may be misleading.

“Previewing videos helps you make more informed decisions about whether you want to watch a video, leading to longer engagement with videos you choose to watch!”

While the videos will have the audio turned off by default, captions will be shown when they are available. If you have created any of the more than 2 billion videos on YouTube without captions, this will add even more motivation to create transcripts for your videos.

Thumbnail images will still be shown for a short time when users are scrolling through their feed, meaning thumbnails will still be a powerful way to grab attention or entice users to watch videos. However, the autoplay feature will prevent uploaders from sharing videos with misleading or false preview thumbnails.

If you are worried about your data usage or simply don’t like autoplay videos, Google is giving you a few options. Within the settings menu, you can turn off autoplaying videos or set autoplay to only activate when you are connected to WiFi.

Hashtag YouTube

Hashtags are coming to YouTube. The video platform has begun displaying hashtags on videos to help users search and discover other videos on similar topics.

The hashtags appear on any video that has been optimized with the tags in web browsers and the YouTube Android app. So far, the hashtags are not being shown in the iOS app.

Up to three hashtags can be shown in blue text above videos’ titles and can be clicked on to open a search containing related videos.

Hashtags can be used to conduct manual searches for any video containing that hashtag, even if it is just in the video description. Hashtags can also be included in video titles.

There are a few restrictions on how hashtags can be used on YouTube, most of which are common sense. YouTube’s policies explicitly prohibit using hashtags to promote harassment or hate speech, as well as to mislead people about content.

Additionally, the platform discourages users from over-tagging their videos, which would be defined as using 15 or more tags on a single video.

Breaking these rules could lead to a variety of punishments depending on how severe the infraction is or whether someone has committed a previous offense. These could include having your hashtags be ignored, videos being removed from search results, or a video being removed from YouTube altogether.

For now, using hashtags to search provides pretty limited search results. But, I expect that will change as creators begin to optimize their channels.

AdWords has launched a new feature allowing advertisers to remarket search ads to anyone who has watched their videos on YouTube, making it easier to funnel potential leads toward converting.

YouTube already lets advertisers remarket YouTube ads to people who have interacted with their channel, but the new change allows you to use the same list of people to show search ads to them as well.

Setting up your search ad retargeting can be done by logging into AdWords and navigating to Shared library > Audiences > New video remarketing list.

From there, you can select which type of interaction you want to use to decide who to retarget to, including anyone who has viewed any video, liked a video, or left a comment.

Thanks to this, you can show ads specifically to people already familiar with your brand and what you offer, letting you re-connect with them any time they search for a relevant keyword for your business or industry.

YouTube Live

YouTube is arguably the largest online video platform on the internet (though Facebook is providing some tough competition), so it is interesting that the platform has been one of the slowest to provide a widely available way to live stream.

That may be starting to change, however, as YouTube is significantly lowering the number of subscribers a user needs before being able to stream.

YouTube only introduced its public live streaming feature back in February, although it has partnered with large events to provide live streams for years. Even then, a user needed to have at least 10,000 subscribers before they were allowed to start streaming.

Over the past week, that threshold was quietly reduced to just 1,000 subscribers. Rather than announce the change, it was only discovered after a change to one of YouTube’s help pages.

The subscriber requirement is just one of a couple different stipulations required for streaming. Users must also have a verified channel and have not received any live stream restrictions in the past 90 days. Live stream restrictions are punishments placed against channels that have violated YouTube’s terms of services.

To start a live stream, follow these simple steps:

  • Tap the camera icon
  • Grant permissions allowing the YouTube app to access the Camera, Mic, and Storage.
  • Verify your account if you have not previously.
  • Tap GO LIVE.
  • Name your live video and set the privacy setting for your stream
  • Tap FINISH when you’re ready to end the stream

YouTube has been teasing its plans to expand its live streaming services for over eight months, and that plan is finally coming to fruition. The video platform says it is bringing mobile live streaming to its biggest content creators, with plans to share the feature with everyone soon.

YouTube is also releasing a new chat tool known as Super Chat to help creators monetize live streams.

Mobile Live Streaming

YouTube has built mobile live streaming directly into its mobile app, with a single catch. You must have at least 10,000 subscribers to use it. If you happen to already have a sizable following, launching a mobile live stream is as simple as opening the app and tapping the capture button.

The company plans to bring the tool to everyone in the coming months, but there is currently no firm estimate of when to expect it.

In the announcement, YouTube says streamed videos will have all the features you expect from normal YouTube videos. Streamed videos will be:

  • Searchable.
  • Discoverable via recommendations and playlists.
  • Protected from unauthorized use (using Content ID).

Super Chat

To accompany the release of mobile live streaming YouTube has also launched Super Chat, aimed at monetizing live content.

Super Chat essentially lets any viewer purchase a chat message that will be especially prominent in the chat feed and can be pinned to the top of the chat window for up to five hours. Super Chat messages will also be highlighted with a color and other viewers can see the amount paid.

CameoFlow

Super Chat is now live to creators with 10,000 subscribers across 20 countries and viewers in over 40 countries.

The Super Bowl is advertising’s biggest day of the year with brands spending millions to get their products in the spotlight. Many tune in just to enjoy the biggest ads of the year and this year commercials gave audiences a fair share of laughs, pangs of nostalgia, and surprises – though maybe not anything as shocking as the Patriot’s comeback.

Of course, these days you don’t have to sit through the big-game (and insanely long pre-show) to see the ads. Several advertisers shared their campaigns early on YouTube, and the others were uploaded as they aired for you to watch and re-watch.

To make sure you catch the best and biggest ads of this year’s Super Bowl, I collected five of the most unforgettable commercials you’re likely to hear people talking about:

Snickers Live Commercial

https://youtu.be/_9M_wQDTTdk

Most brands spend weeks shooting and editing their commercials ahead of the game to make sure everything is absolutely perfect. Snickers took a different route this year with a live commercial starring Adam Driver which ends in a (perfectly orchestrated) catastrophe. It’s a novel twist on the typical Super Bowl ad in a way that perfectly ties into the message, and I predict other brands may follow their lead in the future.

Avocados From Mexico

https://youtu.be/VneoEvAJX0g

Comedy in Super Bowl ads usually boils down to celebrities doing zany things (and yes, we will get to one of those soon). But, the funniest ad in this year’s game is almost entirely celebrity free – aside from SNL’s Jon Lovitz, if you consider him a celebrity.

Instead, it sets up a simple premise of a secret society gathering to discuss their recent leaks, including all the most well-known conspiracy theories. Even better, the brand took a risk and slipped in a “Deflategate” joke knowing there was a good chance the Patriots would make it to the Super Bowl – and it payed off beautifully.

T-Mobile – #NSFWireless

https://youtu.be/pNCG9fHGXB0

T-Mobile went with the “celebrities doing zany things” angle this year, with mixed results. While the dancing Justin Bieber ads were eye-rollingly awkward, two hilarious commercials starring comedian and actress Kristen Schaal more than make up for their missteps.

Schaal, playing a Verizon customer addicted to being treated poorly by her service provider, perfectly sells the message that only a masochist would enjoy the customer experience of T-Mobile’s competitors.

It’s a 10 – Four Years

Perhaps unsurprisingly, politics also played a major role in ad campaigns from several advertisers including Budweiser and Audi. While those ads were beautiful, my favorite political ad of the night took a lighter tone. Opening with “America, we are in for at least four years of awful hair,” It’s a 10 urges viewers to “do your part by making up for it with great hair.”

Understated and smart, the brand left a mark on their night with a truly bipartisan message urging everyone to take pride in their hair.

Tide Cleans Terry Bradshaw’s Shirt

https://youtu.be/jF3otdfvSBQ

Terry Bradshaw and Tide teamed up last night to tear down the walls between reality and advertisements like never seen before. Many viewers noted that Bradshaw returned from commercial in the second quarter with a conspicuously large stain on his shirt, which prompted mass ridicule on social media.

But, the joke was on us. Bradshaw’s stain was setting up a Tide ad telling an epic journey from the broadcasting booth to actor Jeffrey Tambor’s house to clean out the stain and do some quiet sitting in front of the TV. The ending is enjoyable enough on its own, but the creative breaking of the fourth wall makes Tide’s campaign a standout ad of the night.

YouTube Ads

YouTube may be one of Google’s largest platforms, but it gets treated a bit like the black sheep when it comes to Google’s ad services. Targeting has been limited compared to typical AdWords options, and ad options have been built around desktop functionality first.

This is all starting to change, as Google says it is rolling out several updates aimed to make advertising on YouTube better on both mobile and desktop. The announcement also mentioned that over 50% of YouTube videos are now happening on mobile, which likely motivated the change in how they think about ads on the platform.

Target Advertising

Google is now allowing YouTube ads to utilize information associated with users’ Google accounts like their search history, demographic information, and whether the viewer has engaged with an advertiser in the past to better target who sees your ad.

More Focus on Mobile

In response to the increasingly mobile viewership of YouTube, Google is shifting away from a desktop-first mindset. To do this, they are moving from using cookies and pixels because they were not designed for targeting users on YouTube’s mobile, TV, and set-top box apps. The hope is to make tracking and ad functionality more accurate across all devices.

Better Control of What Ads You See

Not all of the new changes are limited to advertisers. Google is also introducing the option for users to device what ads they see on both Google and YouTube from one location. For example, if a user mutes a specific advertiser in Search, the advertiser will also be muted for the user when they watch videos on YouTube.

Before long, Facebook’s video service is going to look a lot like YouTube. Facebook announced several new features to their mobile app that will seem very familiar to YouTube users and will make videos an even larger part of the Facebook platform than before.

Among the features is the new ability to collapse videos into a floating window, so you can browsing your Facebook seamlessly while you watch a video. The change will make watching videos on the platform less of an interruption and more a part of the experience.

Facebook is also testing implementing a new list of recommended videos to watch next after users finish watching a video. If you don’t see something that piques your interest, you can also look in the all new dedicated Facebook video feed, where you’ll find nothing but user shared videos.

The dedicated video feed acts much like your normal News Feed, but exclusively for video and can be found by tapping the “Videos” icon along the bottom navigation menu of the Facebook app.

Videos-section-800x450

If you see something you think you might want to watch, but can’t at the immediate moment for some reason, you can now save it for later, allowing you to easily return when you are someplace more suitable for watching video. All your saved videos can be easily found in the “Saved” bookmark in the menu.

Facebook is still working out the kinks on most of these new features, so don’t expect them to be rolled out too soon. Instead, it appears the new features will see a slow testing and rollout phase, with no telling when we will see a full launch.

 

Google has made a big deal about its ability to prevent advertisers from paying for ads that aren’t seen by real human eyes, including on YouTube’s ad network, but a new study by a team of European researchers suggests something is amiss. According to their findings, advertisers are still being forced to pay for ads despite YouTube’s systems flagging the view as “suspicious” or fraudulently coming from a bot rather than a human.

The experiment from researchers at NEC Labs Europe, UC3m, Imdea, and Polito, was conducted in three stages. First the researchers uploaded videos to YouTbe and set up an AdSense account to monetize them. Then, the team set up AdWords accounts to run ads against the video, before creating and deploying bots designed to specifically view the videos with the ads.

While the researchers concluded that “among the studied online video portals, YouTube is the only one implementing a sufficiently discriminative fake view detection mechanism,” they also found “that YouTube only applies this mechanism to discount fake views from the public view counter and not from the monetized view counter.”

That means that YouTube filters out views it deems as fraudulent for the public view counter, but they are still charging advertisers for those views.

Throughout their experiment, the group observed the number of monetized views was consistently larger than the number of counter views and came to the realization that “views considered suspicious are removed from the public view counter, but monetized.”

public-viewcounter-v-monetized-youtube-dailymotion-e1443113264182-800x372

This isn’t the first time Google has been accused of charging for fraudulent clicks. When similar situations were brought up with YouTube, the company said the discrepancies are likely due to users watching the video ad, but not the video itself. That would lead to the view to be monetized but not included in the public counter.

However, the researchers say that cannot be what happened here because the bot was designed to “view” both the ads and the accompanying video all the way through.

The team also took the fact that YouTube performs part of its view validation after the fact into consideration, however after six months the team saw no compensation adjustments. That happened even after YouTube suspended the AdSense account due to the bots’ suspicious activity.

The team also found YouTube is vulnerable to relatively simple attacks. They say they have given their findings to Google and will continue to refine the tools used for the study and potentially make them widely available.

A Google spokesperson said, “We’re contacting the researchers to discuss their findings further. We take invalid traffic very seriously and have invested significantly in the technology and team that keep this out of our systems. The vast majority of invalid traffic is filtered from our systems before advertisers are ever charged.”

YouTubesThe Financial Times is reporting that YouTube will begin allowing third-party verification of ad viewability by the end of the year following major pushback from major advertisers.

Until now advertisers have had to rely fully on YouTube’s viewership metrics to gauge how their ad efforts are working, but third-party authentication could potentially provide a less biased and full understanding of how your ads are being viewed and it may even help finally settle the dispute between which video platform is more popular.

The report claims Unilever and Kellogg’s are the key instigators for a move to enable independent viewability measurement. Kellogg’s is especially notable as it has even stopped its ad buys on YouTube due to lack of third-party verification.

Google does allow advertisers to buy ads on a viewable impression basis, but the verification is reliant on the company’s own Active View measurement tool.

Using its own measurement tools, Google has boasted of incredibly high viewability rates. In one study this year, Google said 91 percent of ads served on YouTube were found to be viewable using Active View.

Google declined to comment specifically, but told The Financial Times, “We’re committed to meeting all of our clients’ measurement needs” and “are taking our clients’ feedback into account as we continue to roll out new solutions”.