Why YouTube’s 10th Birthday Was a Missed Opportunity to Look Forward

Why YouTube’s 10th Birthday Was a Missed Opportunity to Look Forward

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Later this week, YouTube will wrap up its month-long celebration of its 10th birthday. The party got started on May 1, 2015, when the Official YouTube Blog announced, “In honor of our 10th birthday, we’re celebrating you, our YouTube community. We’ll take a look back at some of the most memorable moments, from the silly to the profound, that you’ve shared on YouTube in the last 10 years. It’s YouTube from A to Z. Literally.”

At that point, the party moved over to the YouTube Trends Blog, where we discovered that “A Is for Animals.” And we learned that YouTube viewers around the world will have watched about 2.5 years’ worth of animal-related videos in the time that it will take you to read this post. We also learned there are approximately 10 million cat videos on YouTube right now, meaning the world has uploaded an average of one to two cat videos per minute over the last 10 years.

The next day, we discovered that “B Is for Beauty.” And we learned that over 5 billion hours of beauty how-tos, walk-throughs and tutorials have been uploaded to the site in the past 10 years. That’s about 100,000 years’ worth!

But wait, there’s more! The following day, we discovered that “C Is for Covers.” And if we were still paying attention, we would have picked up a few factoids about Karmin, Lindsey Stirling, and Working With Lemons. Frankly, I would have been happier with a quick update on the power of Gen C, consumers who thrive on creation, curation, connection and community.

Congratulations – But Where’s the Insight?

Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s when I stopped celebrating. And I realized that the reason I’d enjoyed going to YouTube’s birthdays parties in the past was because they’d often featured a piñata filled with intelligence, and I’d always come home with a few strategic insights, some critical data, and a bit of tactical advice. Occasionally, we played pin the tail on the donkey instead. But, after I took off my blindfold, I looked forward to spotting a couple of trends in the digital video marketing business. And what do I have to share with you this year? Trivia!

In fact, two of the most significant news or developments about YouTube that have been announced lately weren’t even cross-posted on the Official YouTube Blog, the YouTube Trends Blog, or even the YouTube Creator Blog.

Before the 2015 Digital Content NewFronts got underway last month, the AdWords Agency Blog shared some “Insights into the Google Preferred audience on YouTube.” Among other things, we learned that 18-34 year-olds who watch video on smartphones go to YouTube first for online video, 2.3X as likely or more than other platforms.

Some Real News – TrueView for Shopping

Blog Images (15) And last week, the Inside AdWords Blog was the placed selected for “Introducing TrueView for shopping – a new way to promote your products with video.” That’s where we had to go to discover that TrueView for shopping allows brands to highlight products or services with extra details and feature images – as well as functionality that allows the consumer to shop right within the video ad. Right now, it’s only available via YouTube in-stream video ads on YouTube but works right across smartphones, tablets and desktops.

Built on the Interactive cards platform that YouTube announced in April, the new functionality allows advertisers to scale the manual process of connecting individual products with individual videos. Early tests of the new TrueView for shopping feature have reported increased interest and sales.

Online retailer Wayfair confirmed a 3X revenue increase per ad impression served when compared to some of its previous campaigns. Beauty retailer Sephora saw a lift in ad recall of 54%, and also reported an average ad view time of nearly two minutes.

YouTube IS Interested in Advertising!

Meanwhile, over on Think with Google, I found some critical data in an article entitled, “Top 4 Takeaways From the 2015 NewFronts Season.” For example, U.S. online video ad spending is predicted to hit $7.77 billion this year, up from $5.96 billion in 2014, according to eMarketer.

Since these new developments weren’t even cross-posted to any of the YouTube blogs, it seems like the people at Google don’t think anyone at YouTube is remotely interested in advertising. But, pardon me, more than a million channels in dozens of countries are earning revenue from the YouTube Partner Program, and thousands of channels are making six figures per year. And, just to connect the dots, all the revenue that YouTube Partners are earning is coming from … advertising.

YouTube’s Birthday: A Missed Opportunity

So, I’d argue that YouTube’s 10th birthday was a missed opportunity. An important milestone is a great time to look back and share some fun memories. But, it’s also an important time to look forward and let the YouTube community, YouTube creators, and YouTube advertisers know where the world of online video is heading.

I know, I know, the folks in Google’s legal department will warn Susan Wojcicki, the current CEO of YouTube, about making “forward looking statements,” But, maybe it’s time to remind the lawyers about some even older advice from, say, Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” And, if the attorneys aren’t particularly impressed with the King James Version of the Bible, then quote Aristotle, who said, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” In other words, if YouTube isn’t ready, willing, or able to play the role that’s generally given to industry leaders, then Facebook will step in and tell us where the world of online video is heading.

I know because I’ve seen it happen before. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Lotus Development Corporation was bigger than Microsoft Corporation. But Jim Manzi, the former chairman, president and CEO Lotus wasn’t big on “the vision thing.” This enabled Bill Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, to define where the software industry was headed in a series of keynote speeches delivered at COMDEX from the mid-1980s to the late-1990s. From 1986-1988, I was the director of corporate communications at Lotus and Manzi’s speechwriter. And from 1991-1991, I was the director of corporate communications at Ziff-Davis, which owned COMDEX for most of that time.

Now, YouTube doesn’t need to rush out and issue a vision statement this week or next month just to make me happy. But, I plan to attend Wojcicki’s keynote at Vidcon, which will be delivered at the Anaheim Convention Center on July 23, 2105. And, after YouTube’s month-long celebration of its 10th birthday this month, I’d really, really love to hear what the world’s biggest online video platform has in store for the next 10 years. That would really be worth celebrating.


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