Commentary

You May Know Less About YouTube Than You Think

When I was about 23 years old, I met a TV general manager who told me over lunch that he had just sold his boat. “You know the two happiest days in the life of a boat owner?” he asked, and not waiting, even a second, he answered himself: “The day he buys it, and the day he sells it.”

I roared. What a great quip. It wasn’t until a little later on I realized it is the most average thing a boat owner says. It’s one of the instances that made me realize that although some people may sound wise, it’s possible they’re an old act -- and I should know better.

That may be a backdoor way of pointing out a weird little blog post by Greg Jarboe on the ReelSEO site. Jarboe is president and co-founder of SEO-PR, a content marketing agency that provides video marketing services. He prides himself for taking the long view of YouTube, since he was paying attention to it, oh, since the time of the Louisiana Purchase and he usually brings with him an informed point of view that ping-pongs comfortably between matter-of-fact and outright awe.

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Jarboe wrote a how-to guide to marketing via YouTube in 2009 and pays rapt attention to all the changes in how it does business. We mostly pay attention to who is advertising on YouTube, or what kinds of video are gaining traction, but Jarboe has kept track of how YouTube itself operates, if for no other reason than to update the book.

He calculates that based on revisions, one third of the "facts" and best practices for YouTube change every year.  

“Do you remember when YouTube changed the size of its video player to the wide aspect 16:9 ratio in November 2008?” he asks on the ReelSEO post. “Do you remember when YouTube changed the way users could rate videos from one to five stars to thumbs up/thumbs down back in March 2010? Do you remember when YouTube changed its algorithm by replacing views with watch time in October 2012?”

The point, I guess, is that YouTube, like so much of the Internet, changes so fast that like me and the boat owner, you might be getting excited about stuff that no longer matters, or matters in ways you don't now know. Because he had to update his 2009  book to keep it current, he discovered, first hand, the reality of Internet speed and how perishable information and modes of business can be.

“I had to thoroughly update the second edition [in 2011] to provide readers with what were then the very latest techniques for producing videos worth watching and content worth sharing,” which, meant explaining those new TrueView ads and TrueView Insights and discussing the YouTube brand channels, which were a thing back then.

In fact, he writes, “75% of the content in the second edition was significantly different from the first edition. And today, four years after it was published, 95.8% of the content in the second edition is woefully out-of-date.” Only 20 pages out of 474 pages don’t need to be updated. Those 20 pages are titled “A Short History of YouTube.” Of course. 

From that, he extrapolates, the known YouTube environment will changes in a one third chunk between now and the end of 2016. That sounds too impossible to be true, but the scary thing is, what's "impossible" doesn’t sound all that daunting.


pj@mediapost.com
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