Friday, March 9, 2012

Changes to Related and Recommended Videos

The last time you went channel surfing, did you enjoy (or remember) the 20 TV shows you flipped through, or just the shows you watched all the way through? Would you recommend the 20 you surfed through to a friend, or the ones you actually watched? To make the videos you watch on YouTube more enjoyable, memorable, and sharable, we're updating our Related and Recommended videos to better serve videos that keep viewers entertained.

For years, the Related and Recommended videos we served to the right of the player and on the homepage represented our best prediction of what people wanted to watch next. We regularly tweaked the system that selects these videos to keep it evolving with the rest of the site.

Today, this system serves videos based on the number of clicks they receive, which would be like suggesting a TV show based on how many people briefly flipped on a channel while surfing. But clicks aren’t always the best way to predict whether you’ll be interested in a video. Sometimes thumbnails don’t paint the whole picture, or a video title isn’t descriptive.

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, if you’re making videos that keep people engaged, Related and Recommended videos will begin showing your videos more prominently. On the flip side, videos that don’t will not be surfaced as prominently, which will impact a video’s viewcounts over time. How can you adapt to these changes? The same as you always have — create great videos that keep people engaged. It doesn’t matter whether your videos are one minute or one hour. What matters is that your audience stops clicking away and starts watching more of your videos.

To help you, we have an Analytics Audience Retention Report, a list of best practices, and answers to frequently-asked questions to find ways ranging from content to programming. As this kicks off next week, we’ll continue to share resources on this blog to help drive even more audiences to your videos and to your channel.

The YouTube Team