YouTube’s Redesign Spells Bad News For ‘Virallity’

August 20, 2010

I just saw YouTube’s site redesign and I can tell you in 5-mins of browsing that it’s a major direction towards to death of highly produced User Generated Contented.

Everything about their site screams revenue. From the new tabs at the top of the page, to the increase in ad banners and promotional window sizes, to the overlays on almost every promoted video. I get that Google wants to make money with the site. We all get that. But they’ve successfully eliminated almost every major avenue for a low level content producer (like myself) to get eyeballs on my videos. Unless you’re an established content creator with thousands of subscribers, or you have the $$$ to play ball with the sales team, don’t think about becoming the next big thing on YouTube because the boat has sailed.

They’re killing features that help the average user get views. First they removed video replies. Then the top view links on the front of the homepage. The site appears to have turned 180 degrees to an advertiser/paying publisher focused site.

Financially it’s definitely not a bad thing. YouTube is the web video king and getting insane amounts of traffic with 500MM users. But considering the initial vision of YouTube was to “Broadcast Yourself” (a tagline recently removed?), it’s obvious that vision is long gone. Perhaps their new motto should read, “YouTube: SHOW ME THE MONEY”!

From an outsider’s perspective Google appears to be getting impatient about making their money back. I don’t totally blame them, but at what cost? Perhaps they milk the site for 5 more years and bleed it dry of users and original content before pushing it aside and giving it the ‘wave’.

I don’t go to YouTube for movie trailers (iTunes). I don’t go to YouTube to watch movies (Netflix, RedBox). I go to YouTube to find the best original user generated content and viral sensations that (in the past) always finds it’s way to the front of the site and top of the charts. Now I have to weed through marketing video after marketing video to find the goods. Or commercial after commercial just to watch 60 seconds worth on content. Not likely to last long with users because frankly it’s not worth the hassle.

I love YouTube. I admire the founders’ vision. I’m sad to see what looks like Google’s full monty hold in return for some major revenue for a few years. There are definitely issues with the old system. A lot of garbage got through the cracks and made it’s way to the homepage on a daily basis which was frustrating. The new design appears to solve those problems. But the new design has filled the holes left by garbage with Twinkies and Ho Hos.

(Disclaimer: My authority on the subject is I’ve been apart of dozen of major YouTube video campaigns with varying levels of success. I’ve seen a $3k brand video get 300k views, and I’ve seen $750k produce nothing of consequence. My personal YouTube channel has more than 2.5-million views.)


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