Notice anything new around YouTube lately? One of the most common complaints I hear about YouTube is that the Related & Recommended videos section lacks a certain accuracy—too many videos suggested that viewers ultimately don’t find interesting (or even related). But with a new update, YouTube hopes you’ll soon find those suggestions more useful and helpful than ever.
After years of a click-based measurement driving things, YouTube is switching up their Related & Recommended videos section to one that is based more on time spent watching a video.
It’s not that clicks aren’t a good measure of a video’s popularity—they are. They just can’t tell the whole story… they’re not the best measure of a video’s popularity. YouTube’s Creators blog says their research shows time-spent-watching to be a much better indicator of a viewer’s actual engagement.
Here’s a quote from their announcement:
"We’ve been experimenting with the way we offer Related and Recommended videos, focusing on video engagement to get people to the videos they like more quickly. In particular, we’ve discovered that time watched is one of the best indicators of a viewer's engagement. As a result, we’ll be focusing more prominently on time watched in providing Related and Recommended videos starting next week. While we'll still be looking at clicks, engagement will become the leading indicator for serving these videos.”
So basically it sounds like the algorithm powering Related & Recommended Videos has been given a healthy tweak, dialing up the importance of time-watched and bumping down the significance of a single click.
I like how they put the pressure on creators, though, with this quote: "So, if you’re making videos that keep people engaged, Related and Recommended videos will begin showing your videos more prominently." I have a feeling it’s a little more complicated than that, but they’re not wrong. The more engaging your content ends up being, the more people will watch the entire thing, which will help your videos start claiming more spots in the Related videos list.
I know I say it a lot, but this is why the larger brands are moving into content-as-marketing. A traditional ad will never have a time-spent-watching number as impressive as a piece of entertainment content because there will always be a portion of the audience that clicks away as soon as it feels like a commercial.
If you’re looking for more engagement, consider reading the YouTube Creator Playbook (version 2), which we recently wrote about. Even if it has a marketing-sounding name, it’s a hugely helpful resource, completely full of actionable tips to help you boost engagement.