October 24, 2018 By Zak Mehan
Much to the chagrin of conspiracy theorists, ASMR whisperers and beauty vloggers, YouTube went down for an hour last Tuesday. Like Facebook’s outage earlier over the summer, it gave data scientists an interesting opportunity to assess the impact of the video search platform on web traffic.
Unsurprisingly, it’s a lot. Digital research company Chartbeat saw a 20% increase in traffic across its 4,000 customer sites. While many commentators (rightly) focused on the fact that when huge sites like Facebook or YouTube go down traffic to the rest of the internet swells, we think there is another interesting point to be made.
A little over half of the 20% went to find content via general articles (through Google AMP, for example) or publisher sites. The other half went to find articles about the outage. It’s likely that these latter-mentioned users found an article, said “huh, I guess it’s down for everyone” and moved on to new sources of infotainment. But, it’s still a strong indicator – to us anyway – of how engaged YouTube’s audience is with content native to that platform.
This was different from Facebook’s outage, which saw most users just trace content back to the source on publisher sites or apps. A number of factors contributed to this difference but it’s still indicative of the power of gaining an audience on YouTube.
It might take a little more resource-intensive effort than shorter-form social channels, but with the right investment it can pay off for companies eager to engage with stakeholders over time.
The folks at YouTube also have some thoughts on what constitutes engagement on the platform, at least as far as ads are concerned. YouTube has unveiled new criteria for ad engagement and conversion metrics on the platform.
The update comes in two parts:
YouTube says the changes have been made to better reflect “the relationship between video ad exposure and conversions.” We take this as a tacit admission that digital content – whether short or long form – needs to be built for shrinking attention spans and means of measurement that are reflective of that (bleak) reality.
But there are some major positives here. One is that these new smaller windows of time will allow advertisers to access more up-to-date campaign reports and optimize their campaigns accordingly.
This is a potential boon to marcomms practitioners focused on reputation management or brand awareness rather than sales. While a longer conversion window works for stakeholders considering a purchase, shorter conversion windows are far more relevant for advertisers looking to drive website traffic around an issue or initiative.
A key pitfall here is the 10-second video engagement metric, which means that content producers will have to advance key messaging – or at least the most attention-grabbing aspects of their ad – to the very beginning of ads to make those views count.
Overall, these changes will primarily impact what KPIs to measure to determine what success looks like. Are the new criteria more indicative of real success? We’ll keep you posted.
Recent updates show that social media channels are finding new and better ways to identify negative speech and combat abusive behavior on the channels.
Last week, Instagram announced the capability to detect negative captions by using a machine-learning algorithm to review words for content and meaning to prevent online bullying, which affects over half of adolescents and teens. Twitter is also launching a feature that shows when a reported tweet is taken down to allow for more transparency and target rule violations.
The, rightful, focus of these tools is on protecting individual users to provide them with a safe and positive online experience. However, as capabilities in machine learning and artificial intelligence allow for deeper and more complex language analysis, and regulation of commentary on social media more commonplace, companies may well come to leverage them to protect their reputations against serial trolling or false allegations online.
You can be sure we’ll be keeping up with the commentary.
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Who’s Winning the Social Media Midterms? NY Times
RIP to the hero we didn’t know we needed.