YouTube Algorithm: YouTube employees answer your questions! (part 1)

YouTube Algorithm: YouTube employees answer your questions! (part 1)

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Hello insiders this week I have a very Special guest I got todd from the search and discovery team with me today welcome Todd thanks for having me. Todd People have been asking for this interview ever since we started the channel so I’m super excited to kind of dig in a little bit to help people understand a little bit around how we Recommend videos and and how we think about that? Maybe we could just start by going over like what is the goal of the search of discovery team like why do you guys exist? yeah, so there’s a You know as you know there’s over 400 hours of video being uploaded to youtube every minute So that’s a I think like 72 days worth of content per Day and Given that each person probably only has an hour to to watch Youtube every day It’s our job to help them find what they want to watch and not just what they’re going to watch what they’re going to want to enjoy and keep them coming back to YouTube and Every day to watch more videos. So really Understand each viewer what they like and give them the videos that they’re going to find engaging So how do you how do you solve that problem? That sounds like a very? Kind of ambitious goal like how do you break that down into a Mental model? Yeah so the way We think about it is our job is to follow the audience because by listening to the audience We will do a better job of giving them what they want so the way, we think about the systems that we build is that they’re really a Gigantic Feedback loop for the audience in any given day we collect over eighty billion different pieces of feedback from the audience We look at things like well. What did they watch? What did what did we recommend that they decided not to watch? How long did they watch for but increasingly? We’re moving Beyond. Just watch time as one of our key goals we look at satisfaction signals like did they like it that they dislike it when We recommended it on the home page as they say that we’re not interested. We’d give viewers the ability to tell us at so we can stop recommending certain types of videos that they didn’t like and Recently even started using surveys to try to even better understand the audience and what they like and don’t like so we send out Tens of thousands of surveys every day to people asking them whether the recommendations were giving them are good or not as well as Following up with people after they’ve watched a video To find out how enjoyable that video was was one of the best videos they’ve ever seen or was it kind of an average video Because we believe that not every minute spent on YouTube. It’s probably equally valued And we want to be able to to really recognize when viewers have a maybe even a life-changing moment with a video So that we can recommend more videos like that cool now you’ve been on the team for three years. Yeah I’m guessing you’ve seen a lot of interesting experiments and the work that the team does has evolved over time could you share some? Examples of changes that have been made and maybe why you guys thought about making those changes. Yes So you know changes are happening all the time? Because we’re always trying to get better about giving people the right Content that they’re going to find satisfying at any given time We probably have several dozen different experiments running with different changes that we think might help improve engagement and satisfaction But we’re also very careful about how many of those experiments make it into the final product Each experiment is tested with millions of viewers so we really want to See how it does before we roll it out to everyone and only a minority of those changes Do we do you put into the final product and we go through a review process for every change? And we look at dozens of metrics. I know that a lot of creators could have kind of asked me well What’s the one thing that I should focus on to being successful on YouTube is it watch time as it likes is in comments And what we found over time. I’ve even asked you that one And as you probably remember I’ve said that You know while I wish I could give you a simple answer when we learned to truly understand the audience of what they want is Not just about just looking at one thing like watch time or likes because you know for example with watch time You know we’ve come across some changes in the past that we’ve considered like We have this one change recently that significantly increase watch time across YouTube it actually If we would have rolled out this change people would have watched Millions more hours every day on YouTube So you might think well obviously that’s one of the good ones Let’s let’s roll that one out, but when we looked at the dozens of metrics we looked at For each change we found that There were some interesting things happening that weren’t the same across all viewers What was happening is one we were recommending longer videos on average Mm-hmm So you might see more videos that are like an hour long or more? But our hit rate in terms of like how often a viewer would find a video they want to watch was lower So you’d be less likely to find a video But when you did find one, you liked you might watch for longer, so overall watch time is up But what was ultimately happening when we dug in was? We were increasing engagement with a small heavy segment of the audience and actually Reducing engagement from a casual user segment because we look not just at like the total volume of engagement we also Break it out and see how it’s affecting different groups of viewers and We care about growing the appeal of Youtube to more and more viewers over time We felt that this was a representative of the type of change. We wanted to make because it was actually making the experience worse for You know a significant segment of viewers that we cared about and so rather than make them pay the price for for another segment we said let’s go back and see if we can find a way to get get the Improvements here without hurting it for a different segment, so we look at these things very closely and you know spend hours a week digging into the details But ultimately it does change a lot Year, you know 200 to 300 changes do end up happening. So it’s a lot to keep up with but You know each change that we do roll out. We can be confident that we’re making the experience better cool it’s it’s easy to think about people often talk about the algorithm yeah! um, I think in reality it’s a little more new answer on that um, maybe what we could do is talk about Specific spots within Youtube where recommendations are made like there’s homepage. There’s watch next there is a trending Search as well Maybe can we step through like starting with homepage How do you think about that problem solving that problem of recommendation, and then we can move on to the others sounds great? So yeah a lot of people talk about it as if it’s just like one algorithm And we do have different systems and each surface or feature that the user sees kind of has its own set of systems behind it that are trying to optimize for Whatever that features trying to achieve so for example on the home page We are really trying to be the one-stop destination So it’s the first thing you see when you open it up on your mobile app or type youtube.com into your browser We really want to be as efficient as possible In helping you find something whether it’s a trending video or whether it’s something by your favorite creator We’re going to get you there as quickly as possible So you don’t have to navigate around the app to find what you’re looking for so We’re going to pull in videos from all sorts of different sources and try to find the ones that are going to resonate with you So we’ll pull in recent videos from The Channels You subscribe to We’ll pull in Videos that have been watched by people who tend to watch the same sorts of videos you do and we’ll also pull in a Few videos from channels you may have never watched before It’s actually a great place for channels to get discovered by people who aren’t already subscribed to the channel we found that You know the home page actually used to be only your subscriptions and often times we’ll get the question from creators or people Internally asking well, why don’t we just you know since people subscribe to those channels? Why don’t we just you know give them what they subscribe to We used to do that and as we’ve Introduced more and not constrained the homepage to videos you’ve you know manually opted in to added more recommendations the engagement has grown dramatically, and so we we try to include both familiar content as well as Discovery content and Every once in a while We’ll kind of retest to make sure that We’ve made the right decision there And we’ll run another one of those experiments and millions of users where we actually give them just the subscriptions when they start up the app and We’ve done that several times since we made that change and every time we see dramatic drops in Engagement on home when let me limit it just a subscription So that’s if you had that question about why isn’t it only subscriptions? It’s because when we show that people actually visit YouTube less often well Which is not really what we’re going for so home is really that personalized One-stop shop that’s supposed to bring the most relevant of YouTube to you without you having to Type a query or navigate around that great, and I guess if for those who? viewers who are Super interested in just the people that are subscribed to there is always the subscriptions tab. That’s right. It’s just one tap away there’s a subscription tab that filters down to the top that you’ve subscribed to and it’s a We still offer that and other people who want to just jump into that as well cool What about what’s next so watch next? That’s what we call it in our team externally sometimes people call. It suggested videos The recommendations you see on the sidebar while watching a video on desktop This is one of our most powerful recommendation areas drive a huge amount of engagement on YouTube Kind of similar to how we call it watch next We’re trying to find the next thing you want to watch so unlike the home page. Which is really centered around You only um we have some additional context of what you’re currently watching now and so That’s going to sometimes influence what you want to watch next so we’re going to we’re going to pull in some different videos We’re gonna pull in more videos from the channel that you’re watching I’m going to pull in videos that People who watch the video you’re watching what else did they watch definitely? That’s a key part of it We’re going to pull in similar videos that have like similar titles in keywords and descriptions that might be similar and finally, we’re not just going to limit it to Videos that are related to the video you’re just watching this is another change that’s happened over the years It used to be called related video Because we thought that that was kind of like the thing that would work the best and what we found through our experiments is that? In addition to showing related videos if we also show personalized recommendations that might be interesting to you But not directly related to what you’re watching people will watch more And so sometimes you want might want to go down the rabbit hole on a video and watch more related, but other times It’s like hey I was just looking up how to tie a bow tie Mm-hmm And I got that information and now what I want to watch next is actually I want to catch up on my favorite Vlogger over some other channels so we don’t we don’t limit suggested videos so it’s a mix of stuff that might be related and And and what’s relevant to you and ultimately what Determines what shows up? There is what performs the best so the videos that you see there are the ones that we think are most likely to drive viewers to watch and engage in the 80 billion Data points that I talked about earlier of Those data points come from there, so we just you know try to keep doing. What’s working and test various videos and different placements and the ones that work the best tend to stick around and the ones that don’t tend to All right, so now we’ve talked about home Wats next let’s talk about search right so search Similar to watch next we have some more context there because you’ve given us a query so In general we’re going to you know start with what you’d imagine. Which is we’re going to find videos that match that query Either in the title or the descriptions or maybe we’ve seen that People who search for this query tend to tend to watch these sorts of videos and so we’ll start with a set of Relevant videos, and then similar to what I was referring to earlier. There’s this feedback loop so you might say hey I have a thumbnail of an iPhone and I have the text iphone in my thumbnail and my title is all about iphone review and in my description. I say iphone iphone iphone Why am I not number one in the search for iphone well? It’s because we don’t only look at What we call the Metadata that you provide about the video, but we also look at the performance and so We’re going to see when people search for iphone is this type of video that they tend to watch or not? And so the ones that you’re going to see at the top aren’t just the ones that match the query But also match what the feedback has been from viewers so it’s a combination of Relevance and then that feedback loop of what’s was actually engaging audience cool and then Trendy Trending this one we get so many questions ago So trending is You know one of the things that we built trending around was to be kind of like the water cooler of YouTube Mm-hmm and so It’s not just a popular list It’s not the most popular Videos that are getting the most views or that sort of thing a lot of people get confused and think that’s what it is We really wanted to be represent the videos that people are having a conversation about And when you think about that? What are the types of videos that people are talking about as a water cooler? They tend to be broadly appealing videos like so there may be you know a video That’s getting a lot of views, but it’s within sort of like a really Narrow audience like people may not be talking about that broadly So we are we do tend to focus? Trending on videos that are broadly appealing for example to different types of people with different preferences And we’re also looking at videos that aren’t just don’t just have a lot of use in the past, but actually Have some velocity and are increasing and on the rise So that’s why you might see videos and trending that you know may not have millions of views yet But we’re trying to actually identify those things as they’re taking off and we also look at things like Are people talking about this video on the web? Did we see that? Hey? This was actually embedded in you know a lot of different news articles, and so there are Conversations happening outside of Youtube about these videos those are some of the things we looked at it’s to try to Tap into that water cooler Element cool, and you know one thing I’ve heard people ask about trending is whether the suggestions are paid Yeah, I’ve heard that question as well So we we feel really strongly that any Advertisements that we have on YouTube are clearly indicated as ads. You’ll see like a little yellow badge that says add Same goes for trending there aren’t any of those in trending and That’s because we don’t have those ads in trending. We don’t have any programs. We’re Partners or advertisers and pass to place the videos in trending. It’s not a It’s not a pay for placement thing so all the videos you see in trending there are because of the ranking that we’ve come up with And there’s no way for people to pay to influence that so it’s it’s definitely not Ads or or paid placements cool hey insiders? Hope you enjoyed the first half of that interview with Todd Part 2 is going to be uploaded sometime next week if you haven’t already make sure you subscribe and hit the bell notification, so you will be the first to know when Part 2 is available and in the meantime. Here’s another video from Channel keep it real

100 comments

  1. Hi sir ,some of the channels using mcn and gaining sufficient viewers …but my question is why YT is not working for their creator same like MCN. which will be helpful for all…thank you

  2. Why my Number of Views Counts and View Minutes are reducing, does it due to technical problem in YouTube in Last week? Please answer and provide contact e-mail

  3. Speaking as a consumer of youtube, not a content creator, the "not interested" option becomes like a game of whack-a-mole; I'll continuously say I'm not interested, but it just keeps popping up over and over. They keep pushing things that might be passive/veg out entertainment, but not a lot of new discoveries of stuff that I would like or get hooked into. Like, the same clickbait infotainment stuff will pop up, and I feel like youtube is giving me a homework assignment or something.

    But then I'll watch stuff that I do watch but isn't optimized the best by the creators (like, say, old Sesame Street videos, or well-done essays) and I'll always have to search for the content instead of it popping up organically.

    I think it's frustrating and leads to a disappointing experience.

  4. It's been said already, but you're pushing trends and copies of trending videos to the detriment of unique content.
    Why? Because that's what makes the till go kerching!
    Youtube is a business, not a forum for creativity.
    I'm not quitting, but it's tough for a lot of channels that are really good, lost in a sea of not so good and not getting found.
    Personally, I'm hoping that sticking to a specific niche will eventually kick in.

  5. Appreciate the video. It is good to prioritize the enjoyment of viewers to watch the videos. However, there needs to also be a balance to creator happiness as well. The more difficult it is for creators to find that it is worthwhile to do youtube, the more likely creators will give up on youtube. But then again, maybe to youtube, big turnovers are not such a bad thing afterall because there are many more new creators to replace the older youtubers right?

  6. Thanks for the video… though it's kinda generic. Any comment on wrong Algo updates and it's impact on existing Content Creators? I rarely see any video at Top from new Channels or medium sized Channels at my Feed or Search nowadays!
    (I am not talking about the Verfied or very Big channels)

  7. So what we are going to BE LIKE THE PEOPLE IN THE FOURTYS FIF TYS THAT NEVER KNOWING THW NEW TECHNOLOGY THATS PUR THERE ONLY REVERTED FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE 2500 OR 3000 WHAT A CROCK😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😔😔😔😔😔😔

  8. Why if i unsubscribe from a channel and request to not get this suggestion again, i still repeatedly get the suggestion, especially for "top Youtubers"

  9. Thanks for the interview. May I suggest to use a better video camera and properly sit next to each other (same distance from camera) and add a nice background?

  10. A question.. My videos used to be watched a lot after uploading like 70k in two days. After I took two weeks off for taking care my mom in the hospital and came back to upload new videos. The views now are being very slowly like 1k of views a week. Please suggest or give a help.

  11. youtube should have a "more like this" option for every video that would feed the recommended selections so they can be more accurate also Youtube should have a 'not in the mood" option just in case I want to watch but maybe later it can recommend it to me at a different time.

  12. I know it has been a while since this was done but a quick question about the YouTube algorithm – If you have published a video that is, let's say a slow starter – like 2,000 views in the first 3 months but then some viewer recommends it or shares it to their base of followers and the video starts to take off and picks up 50,000 views in a month – does the YT algorithm dynamically adjust for this and start recommending the video to a wider audience?

  13. Этот Тодд – парень еще тот. Че у вас все такие толковые .
    Это вам не перевести на свой язык

  14. I can respect these basic facts we already know they are just copying what we watch feed it back to us. Just trying new things as if they were real concept strategy's The like what they like and that can shift at any moment. Who thinks this was relevant to our search?

  15. The algorithm creates dangerous echo chambers as it has an adverse affect when it comes to political topics and anything controversial, constantly feeding people exactly what is needed to feed their confirmation biases.

  16. I watch this video but I am more focusing on the comments section where all of us are small creators. I rather listen to people down on the comments. I wanted to improve my videos too and get more views. I just upload new videos consistently and hope for the best.

  17. I like home page and watch next/side bar suggestions as I like to Youtube surf. This works for me. There are days though when I get nothing and so have to resort to search on a topic I am interested in.

  18. Todd, please explain me phenomena when I put educational video about programming MCUs, why some of my videos are blocked by means of freezing revenue to $0.002 and not changing for days. I made STM32 video explaining I2C scanner which quickly find I2C address of the device (mostly sensors), while manufacturers does not provide information about the most important thing. So you stimulate YouTube creators by punishing them first? How that works?

  19. Basically, be a celebrity and Youtube will push your video's. Youtube is all about the money at this point.

  20. Please approve my channel Khmer food cooking

    I has been reached your target afews months ago please

  21. I hope they notice my channel soon I am teaching online jobs here in the philippines to give my fellow pilipino a chance to find work online since almost 50$ of people here are jobless. and thank you creator insider for the tips.

  22. Algorithm is broken, I get a comment every five comment that goes like this "this is the best video guide I have ever seen" or "I can't believe this video only has a few thousand views" it gets frustrating putting out these ridiculous hours and effort just to see someone with click-bate and a bunch on nonsense content get a few hundred thousand views in the first 24 hours of uploading.

  23. In other words if you desire to expand your interests away from the type of content that you already know you like, YouTube will make it hard for you to do that. If you like something that you have never looked up before, YouTube encourages you not to do that, because they think it's bad that you search for yourself, they think they are doing something wrong if you leave the home page. Autonomy is the problem developing recommendations is the solution (what a terrible and narrowing perspective).

  24. I don't really have any solid proof but I think that when you pass 4000 watch hours, YouTube recognizes you more and start exposing your channel to more ppl… I'm not sure though but I always realise that it's usually the channels that have passed that milestone are usually the ones who YouTube pushes more.

  25. Loving the new analytics in Beta! Trying to figure out how these algorithms really work, starting to see but wow its mind boggling! For a while I was getting a very high number of suggested videos, now for a few weeks its switched to browse. I'm pretty sure thats a good thing since my actual numbers are gaining momentum! Never had a "trending" video, one day.. one day.. Crystals are trending, its only a matter of time I hope! Doing YouTube is seriously fun, its like playing a game but its real life, life changing!

  26. thanks for the help! how do brand new creators get their videos viewed if their videos aren't being featured?

  27. A melhor coisa que eu gosto encontrar duas pessoas tão bem interessado ajudar as pessoas entender de maneira melhor amei o vídeo.

  28. please help i am getting flagged on every video i make because there is a hate group that flags everything i do so they can slow the traffic up on my channel … every video i upload gets demonitized … i don't use profane langauge and i follow all guidelines …please help this is the latest video they attacked … @ … they also DOX me … please help

  29. What is happening to kids content!!!? My channel and the channels of all my peers dropped 65-85% in views and revenue starting on July 10th. While corporate kids content views jumped 100% or more overnight!!! This is our livelihood! We are no longer able to support ourselves or our editors. What is happening!?

  30. ini busuk, cuma ngasih tau tutorial. kita ngomongin kenyataan aja deh ya. skrng tuh gak ada yg ga mungkin. dulu sebelum ada namanya 4000 waktu nonton dan 1000 subscriber, youtuber baru bisa berkembang, dan youtube juga merekomendasikan game game gak jelas, seperti mobile dan pubg, bagaimana kami yg serius di youtube dengan membawa karakter kami bisa berkembang? hey youtube ubah lah cara pandang mu. karna mu kami terbunuh oleh tindakan mu

  31. Thank you for this video ! It was really helpful ! There was a lot of great info in this video ! have a great day
    !

  32. As a Tamil Music label Channel, this content really helps shape our plans for the upcoming time. Thank you guys!! <3

  33. This is an awesome video! So many great tips. I saw like 3 hours of video yesterday on YouTube Creators! Hopefully, it will help me create better videos and reach a bigger audience!

  34. Hey Tom and Todd! Thanks for the insight on how things work "inside" YT. There's one question I struggle to find an answer to and it didn't really come up in those three ones of this mini series:
    If a channel is "old" and hasn't been used for many years and then the creator decides to upload more frequently (really start the channel) – does "the algorithm" judge the channel by it's average performance over all those years or does the over all performance of a channel not influence how the algorithm treats the later uploads.
    (If You need an example You could look at my channel since I was on YT almost "from the beginning" but only really started grinding a year ago.)

    Keep rocking!

  35. i don't know, i feel i am not youtuber after all. i am wasting my time to make good conten videos, improve seo, keyword but only one viewer is me.

  36. Everyone should read the actual COPPA rule. Under COPPA, if any of your viewers might be children, no YouTube channels can use comments, notifications, or personalized ads unless YouTube gives us a way to ask their age, and a way to turn off comments, notifications and ads for those users who are children.

  37. Quality isn't an indicator of whether something gets attention. Often it is recommended that you work on content to get the audience but the algorithm buries content if it doesn't meet some unknown quality.

  38. Subscription hasnt been working people are telling me in last month that they are being unsubcribed and notification bell is veing turned off.Has this been occuring to anyone else.
    confused

  39. So here's the thing, and I wonder if anyone can answer this. THey talk about the combination of meta data and performance determining rankings. Just having the key words on point isn't enough, but how can one expect to gain performance on their video when the thumbnail doesn't get shown to anyone. This is the catch 22 and I personally think the answer is YT is judge, jury and in some cases executioner of some very good content that just didn't get a chance. I have never in my life watched a PewDiPie video, and yet there was one on my home-screen the other day. Why is that? I don't watch him, I don't watch other gamers. He's getting a chance to broaden his audience, how do other creators get that same chance?

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