My Video Went Viral. Here's Why

By: Veritasium

145694   3119   1872190

Uploaded on 05/19/2019

My hypothesis is that the algorithm, rather than viewer preference, drives views on the site. As the algorithm shifts, various YouTubers experience burnout (as what used to work no longer works) and right now click-through rate is the key metric. So clickable titles and thumbnails are the only way to get a lot of impressions and hence views - they are the only way to go viral. This leads me to wonder which audiences will become most prevalent on the site and if there will even be a place for educational content. In the long-term, hopefully YouTube is able to measure satisfaction through surveys and other metrics to ensure an optimal experience for everyone on the site.

Flipchart artwork by Maria Raykova
Filmed by Raquel Nuno
Thumbnail by Ignat Berbeci

Comments (5):

By rasz    2019-05-24

Let me Godwin it up

>We're optimizing for click through rate.

and so was Hitler in ~1923. Optimizing something that affects how other people act (same happens on YT Veritasium:My Video Went Viral leads to bad outcomes (radicalization, race to the bottom, catering to lowest denominator etc).

Original Thread

By v8engine    2019-05-24

Veritasium very recently spoke about algorithm optimizing for click through rate in the context of the bad.

It seems okay in this case though.

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By eganist    2019-06-16

This seems like it takes some notes from Veritasium's theory on YouTube's recommendation algorithm which he posted after his initial reservoir shade balls video went viral. (edited for clarity) for his theory.

Original Thread

By jdietrich    2019-07-27

Immediate counter-arguments:

Most professional YouTubers complain about having to tailor their videos to suit the recommendations algorithms. Historically, many short videos were padded out to just over 10 minutes in order to reach the minimum threshold to insert a midroll advertisement; today, many videos are as long as possible to take advantage of the algorithmic prioritisation of view time over view count. There is widespread dissatisfaction with the recent necessity to use clickbait thumbnails and titles, due to YouTube's increasing weighting of click-through-rate.

Most analysts believe that the high weight on view time is causing the YouTube algorithms to promote the kind of videos that their heaviest users watch. The problem is that these heavy users aren't representative of the general population - they're far more likely to be interested in conspiracy theories or extremist politics.

The vast majority of YouTube video views are as a result of algorithmic decisions by YouTube - what to show in the recommendations bar, what to prioritise on the home page, what to put at the top of search results. Those algorithms are not and cannot be neutral. These algorithms aren't just shaping which videos people watch; YouTube creators freely admit to tailoring the content of their videos to fit the recommendations algorithm.

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By mxscho    2019-08-30

Regardless how to define what's garbage and what's not, YouTube seems to remove demonetized videos from recommendations. Since I don't think that good content is always necessarily advertiser-friendly, a lot of good videos are just not getting any attention because a few big companies decided that they're not helpful to market their products. Example: Historical or educational videos which are about controversial topics or just have the word "war" in their title.

Basically, their recommendations algorithm favors profit from advertising over personalized recommendations because it seems to be designed to maximize click-through rate and watch time for videos with many ads. [1]


Original Thread

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