YouTube is getting smaller in a metric that used to mean everything: views.
Since December, views on YouTube have dropped 28%, and March views are only slightly above what they were a year ago, startling for a site accustomed to breakneck growth.
It’s an intended consequence of the Google-owned site’s shift from…snack-size content to a full-fledged, couch-potato-optimized entertainment destination. At YouTube, the “view” is out and “engagement” is in.
YouTube’s focus has shifted from directing viewers to videos of skateboarding dogs to enticing them into longer, more engaging videos—the kind that are, not incidentally, more appealing to advertisers.
On March 15, YouTube altered its recommendation system to make the time spent with a video or channel a stronger indicator than a click.
“Our goal is we want users to watch more and click less”
It appears to be working. While views have dropped of late, the amount of minutes users spend watching YouTube has grown over the past year by 57%. The average length of a video view has grown a full minute to four minutes in the past year.
// Photo – Mark Sebastian