"What's Poppin" around you? Google asks in its surprisingly entertaining video walkthrough of the new Trends service that tracks emerging viral video hits. Actually, more than just another geeky tool from Google, this is YouTube Trends page is one of the most sculpted and deliberately programmed efforts we have seen from Big G. Even though the site is put together by what the company calls new algorithms to pull in trending video topics and themes, there is something closer to a full-fledged editorial project at work here.
The site's manager Kevin Alocca writes at the blog that "The idea for YouTube Trends started with our desire to find new ways of identifying the viral and newsworthy content people love to share and packaging it in an easy to digest format." Methinks the ambitions are greater here. In addition to the usual lists of trending topics, the site has features like "4 @ 4" or four video picks that appear at 4 pm for a late afternoon browse. Other features like "Inside YouTube Search" looks for spiking search terms and any videos they tend to call up. And of course there is "4 in the morning" that wakes us up for clips over coffee. Getting the drift? YouTube is crafting this project into something akin to a day parted programming cycle that mimics TV programming.
There is also stuff here that is designed to crossover into marketer-speak. Yesterday there was a feature breaking down the viral path that the recent Justin Bieber video took to break online viewing records. One of the more interesting new tools is the localized viewing engine that lets you see what is popular in your region, compare it to others and filter by gender as well. Add a few more filters across demographic units and you have a cool media professional's tool.
Alloca is promising a lot more of this stuff, from visualizations of video viral progress to cultural analysis of video trends. "We see YouTube as a way to not just be entertained and informed, but also as place that can help us understand more about the world we live in and the people we live in it with," he writes. "And that's what YouTube Trends is all about."
But we are more intrigued by the new tone Goolge/YouTube effects in this roll-out. Not only is the content plan here more personable and less (for lack of a better word) algorithmic than the usual Google production, the video walkthrough is pretty good. In fact, YouTube satirizes its own parent company's deserved reputation for cool scientific remove with campy delivery. Indeed, they even enlist viral video maestros The Gregory Brothers to make part of the pitch. This is YouTube? Really? Google getting some hip style may be a scarier prospect than its eating the world with soulless algorithms.