I've watched more YouTube than I care to admit, and because of this I've had a lot of time to observe YouTube and its users.
Using my expertise on the subject, I've broken down why it's been so successful and how this simple site relates to larger trends in society now and in the future.
WHY PEOPLE LOVE YOUTUBE
Almost 90% of 13-24 year olds watch YouTube weekly and spend 40+ minutes watching their videos a sitting (with likely multiple sittings per day).
Relatability - YouTubers are real people with real problems, making them more relatable than a Hollywood celebrity.
Transparency - Creators talk about their lives and apologize when they make mistakes, making them seem more "real" instead of perfect.
Anything - There is a video for everything on YouTube, allowing people to follow their various interests and find a community that fits them.
Timing - Viewers can watch videos whenever is most convenient for them, making it more of a personalized experience.
PROBLEMS WITH YOUTUBE
YouTube is always willing to sell ad space on their site, but what happens when viewers don't want ads anymore?
Ads - Most viewers hate ads and some have gotten 'Adblocker', which skips ads, but keeps channels from getting ad money for their views.
Ad Money - All 'YouTube Red' money goes into a bucket that channels get a percent of, instead of viewers supporting specific channels.
Trolls - YouTube commenters are notoriously mean spirited, likely because anytime you have 90% of people participating in something, there are always going to be the jerks there too.
Hyper Controlled - Due to a backlash from some videos being considered “unsavory”, many ad sponsors pulled away from YouTube and are only just now considering to rejoin the platform. This then caused YouTube to become hyper strict about what videos get monetized from ads, to the point where mentioning current news updates can get you demonetized.
HOW YOUTUBE IS CHANGING
YouTube's 'Red' and 'Gaming' channels are an attempt to put it in direct competition with cable and online streaming sites.
New Tech - Live streaming already plays a small part in YouTube, but like virtual reality, will continue to grow as the technology gets better.
Subscription - Users can now pay for content. It's unclear if this will be successful since many users are insistent on YouTube remaining free.
Original Content - In an attempt to to stay ahead of the curve and make money, YouTube now has their own shows, similar to Netflix.
Ad Space - YouTube is having to rethink how they make money, and whether selling ad space is still the best route, especially with the large backlash from many ad sponsors.
WHAT THIS ALL MEANS
Taking steps to work with the ideals of future generations will allow any brand to adapt and prepare for the future.
Recommendations - Viewers feel so connected to YouTubers that they are much more likely to consider purchasing their recommendations than a traditional advertisement, even from Hollywood celebrities. This relates to viewers trusting that YouTubers would be honest about the product.
Transparency - Younger generations are looking for people and brands that are more genuine and "real". They would rather a brand make a mistake and admit to it, while fixing it, then trying to cover it up. Brands that try to appear perfect will have a difficult time winning them over.
Share Economy/Open Source - 'Let's Plays' and other videos allow viewers to share in the experience of video games and other mediums, without having to purchase it themselves. They would rather have the experience than own the item. This can also be seen with open source coding for websites and community tool sheds, where people are much more open to sharing in hopes of helping the greater community.
I hope you enjoyed this closer look into the YouTube platform. Again, this is based of my research and personal observations so you might have a different viewpoint. However you look at it though, YouTube has definitely changed the way that we interact with media and will likely have lasting effects for a long time into the future.
Until next time,