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.

Between virtual schooling, social media, and video streaming platforms, kids are more online than ever. Though children are growing up using the internet from their earliest ages, however, most evidence suggests they are more at risk for being targeted through advertising and other forms of online marketing. Now, Google is taking action to protect them.

In one recent study from SafeAtLast, upwards of 75% of children are willing to share personal information in exchange for goods or services. This obviously raises concerns about the long-term implications of gathering data from and targeting ads towards children.

As a result, Google is changing its policies regarding minors online, including removing ad targeting for those under 18 and allowing underage individuals to request for any images of them to be removed from search results. 

These are all the latest changes:

Allowing Minors To Remove Images From Google Search

“Children are at particular risk when it comes to controlling their imagery on the internet. In the coming weeks, we’ll introduce a new policy that enables anyone under the age of 18, or their parent or guardian, to request the removal of their images from Google Image results,” explains Mindy Brooks, product and UX director for kids and families at Google.

The search engine is unable to go further in removing the images from the internet entirely, but it can certainly make it more difficult to find those images. 

Changing Default Settings For Minors

Google is making underage users’ information more private by default across its multiple platforms. That includes changing the default upload mode on YouTube to private for users under 18 and automatically enabling SafeSearch for minors on Google Search. 

Location History Is Disabled

By default, Google had already turned off location history for users between 13 and 17. Now, it has gone further by making it entirely disabled. On one hand, this may lead to less relevant search results, but also prevents excessive tracking of children through Google. 

Removing Ad Targeting For Minors 

In the upcoming months, Google Ads says it will be “expanding safeguards to prevent age-sensitive ad categories from being shown to teens, and we will block ad targeting based on the age, gender, or interests of people under 18.”

New Tools For Parents

Lastly, the company is introducing a number of new tools and features for parents across its entire product line. For example, the company is introducing Digital Wellbeing tools within the Google Home app, allowing parents to manage their children’s use of smart assistants. On YouTube, the company is also turning on ‘take a break’ and bedtime reminders by default, while turning off autoplay.

For more on Google’s latest efforts to protect the private data of children across its services and platforms, check out the full blog post 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:

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 the most popular social network among American adults according to a large new study from Pew Research Center.

The new report includes findings on social media use among adults from a nationally representative phone survey conducted earlier this year.

Overall, the results showed that social media usage has largely remained stagnant over the past few years, with just two notable exceptions.

“YouTube and Reddit were the only two platforms measured that saw statistically significant growth since 2019,” the reports stated.

Out of all platforms, YouTube had the highest usage with 81% of adults who used any kind of social media saying they used the video streaming service. 

Facebook unsurprisingly came not far behind, with 69% saying they use the platform. In third place was Instagram with 40% of respondents saying they use the social network. 

You can see the full list of social networks and the percent of US adults who use them below:

  • YouTube (81%)
  • Facebook (69%)
  • Instagram (40%)
  • Pinterest (31%)
  • LinkedIn (28%)
  • Snapchat (25%)
  • Twitter (23%)
  • WhatsApp (23%)
  • TikTok (21%)
  • Reddit (18%)
  • Nextdoor (13%)

As the report concludes:

“YouTube is the most commonly used online platform asked about in this survey, and there’s evidence that its reach is growing. Fully 81% of Americans say they ever use the video-sharing site, up from 73% in 2019. Reddit was the only other platform polled about that experienced statistically significant growth during this time period – increasing from 11% in 2019 to 18% today.”

Beyond these broad findings, the report also includes demographic breakdowns for each platform and other findings, which you can see below:

YouTube Usage Statistics

  • 95% of US adults ages 18 to 29 say they use YouTube
  • 91% of US adults ages 30 to 49 say they use YouTube
  • 49% of US adults ages 65 and older say they use YouTube
  • 54% of YouTube users say they visit the site daily
  • 36% of YouTube users say they visit the site several times a day

Facebook Usage Statistics

  • 70% of US adults ages 18 to 29 say they use Facebook
  • 77% of US adults ages 30 to 49 say they use Facebook
  • 73% of US adults ages 50 to 64 say they use Facebook
  • 50% of US adults ages 65 and older say they use Facebook
  • 70% of Facebook users say they visit the site daily
  • 49% of Facebook users say they visit the site several times a day

Instagram Usage Statistics

  • 71% of US adults ages 19 to 29 say they use Instagram
  • 52% of Hispanic Americans say they use Instagram
  • 49% of Black Americans say they use Instagram
  • 35% of White Americans say they use Instagram
  • 59% of all Instagram users say they visit the site daily
  • 73% of 18- to 29-year-old Instagram users say they visit the site every day
  • 53% of 18- to 29-year-old Instagram users say they visit the site several times a day

Other Usage Statistics

  • 46% of Twitter users say they visit the site every day
  • 65% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use Snapchat
  • 2% of adults ages 65 and older say they use Snapchat
  • 50% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use TikTok
  • Those with higher levels of education are more likely to use LinkedIn than those with lower levels of education
  • 51% of US adults with a bachelor’s or advanced degree say they use LinkedIn
  • 28% of US adults with only some college experience say they use LinkedIn
  • 10% of US adults with a high school diploma or less say they used LinkedIn
  • 46% of women use Pinterest, compared to 16% of men
  • Adults living in urban (17%) or suburban (14%) areas are more likely to say they use Nextdoor
  • 2% of rural Americans say they use Next-door

To view the full report, click here.

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:

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:

For the longest time, the conventional wisdom has held that Facebook is where people spend the majority of their screen time while using apps. According to a new report from App Annie, however, that has shifted over the past year.

For the first time ever, TikTok has taken the lead as the social app with the longest time spent per user.

Year-over-year, TikTok has leapt 325% in time spent, officially knocking Facebook out of the top spot.

Notably, this does not necessarily mean people are spending less time on Facebook. In fact, nearly every app in every market included in the report has seen increases in the time spent on their platform – likely due to the Coronavirus and social distancing measures.

Still, TikTok’s growth over the past year far outpaced any other platform, allowing it to take the lead compared to any other social app.

With this in mind, it is not a surprise to see that TikTok also took the top spot as the #1 breakout app of 2020 based on monthly active user growth.

Another key finding is that TikTok has risen to the #2 non-gaming apps when it comes to consumer spending. In addition to the traditional advertising services TikTok offers, it brings in additional revenue with purchasable digital goods. Surprisingly, this appears to have been a hit with users, contributing to a swell of revenue.

While this may be one of the most important takeaways from the report for brands trying to keep up with shifting audiences, the report also includes a few other interesting findings:

Mobile Adoption Leaps Forward

Based on App Annie’s data, mobile adoption has leapt forward by 2-3 years over the past year. Nearly every metric related to mobile use spiked.

This includes a 7% year-over-year increase in mobile app downloads, an 8%, which translates to 218 billion app downloads. 

This year also marks the first time Americans have spent more time on their mobile devices than they have spent watching TV. People spent 8% more time on their mobile devices compared to TVs (4 hours a day on mobile vs 3.7 hours watching TV).

People Watch 4x More YouTube Than Netflix

Based on app usage, YouTube is the unquestioned leader in video streaming. The app received more than 4x the time spent on the app per user compared to any other platform. Even Netflix was miles behind Google’s video platform.

Every month, the average user watches 23 hours of content on YouTube, compared to just 5.7 hours of Netflix shows or movies. This makes it clear that YouTube is the platform to focus on if you want to get video content in front of your target audience, whether it takes the form of advertisements or regular content.

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: