News

POV: YouTube Augments Social Features

Background:

If imitation truly is the best form of flattery then Facebook and Snap’s product engineers will be feeling deeply flattered this week after Google announced a series of changes to YouTube’s iOS & Android apps.

Following a series of successful localised tests, YouTube is going global with a wealth of new social features which allow users to send videos, comments and reaction to individuals and groups as well as to chat in-app, essentially turning YouTube into another mobile messenger.

Details and Implications:

The new features are very simple to use and users are encouraged to find friends, family, and colleagues from their phone’s address book. At this stage there is no option to block users so brace yourself for potential unsolicited requests, although probably not for too long given how quickly apps iterate nowadays.

These enhancements are a clever move by the Alphabet-owned company as it capitalises on the consumer shift towards dark – as opposed to public – sharing habits.

The official press release circulated by YouTube said that this update is about making sharing “‘easier, faster and more fun on your phone”. So good for consumers but also good for Google advertising revenues. Digital advertising revenues are directly impacted by time spent in-app and perhaps the best way to drive users into an app is through notifications; especially the sort of high frequency notifications associated with messaging. Finally, the update is also expected to benefit content creators as sharing usually facilitates discoverability.

Summary:

It’s not immediately obvious what these changes will mean for marketers given that any impact will be entirely determined by user adoption. However, it’s safe to say YouTube is fighting with, among others, WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram & Snap for seconds, eyeballs & engagement. Additionally, we shouldn’t be surprised to see new media inventory, formats or targeting options manifest over time because of these app changes.

The global rollout isn’t instant so if you don’t see the new app update today, do check again tomorrow.

Further reading:

TechCrunch
YouTube blog