This week on the Reel Web, we share some insight from YouTube regarding how they go about testing and experimenting with new site designs and features.  We also talk a bit about YouTube's original channel initiative and their recent decision to re-invest in some channels while dropping more than 50% of the original premium channel partners.  Finally, we take a look at a couple "forumlas" for successful video including a look at some interesting information about the optimal length for a social video and a viral video forumla put together by Salesforce.

YouTube's Process for Testing New Site Designs & Features

YouTube recently answered all of the grumblings about why they make the changes they do by explaining how they forecast the big picture.  Even though some of the changes can seem annoying to us as video creators, they really do have the broader scope in mind.  This explanation from YouTube tells how they decide to make those changes and roll them out, going through different levels of test marketing first.

We experiment and test every change, big or small, by showing it to a small set of viewers. For example, last year we tested removing a thin border from around video thumbnails. Our experiment showed it resulted in a nearly 2% increase in clicks on suggested videos. We also run in-person focus groups with a diverse set of people, some of whom subscribe to hundreds of channels, some of whom watch YouTube less frequently.

YouTube Reinvests in Original Channels, Drops >50%

So how do you get your videos to be the crème de la crème for YouTube?  Well, first you need to know what YouTube is looking for.  They are investing another $200 million this year in premium channels, but only about 40% of last year’s premium channels will make the cut this year.  What they’re primarily looking for in their selection process is how much time people actually spend watching that channel, or their engagement with that channel.  What they are not looking at is revenue generated because they believe that revenue will naturally follow from engaging content.

Is there an Ideal Length for Viral Video?

How do you make your own content engaging so that you can work your way up on the YouTube ladder?'s Greg Jarboe analyzed the top 50 social/viral video ads and found that the ideal length for video content on YouTube averages 4 minutes and 11 seconds. Truth is that I dont subscribe to the idea that there's an ideal duration but for these results, the finding was interesting.  The shorter the video, the less shares it had. So, it takes a little bit of time to elicit emotion, which is what drives the viewer to share the video.  How do you elicit emotions?  Can you do it in one or two minutes?

A Viral Formula Revealed

Going further with this engagement issue, how does a video go viral? has outlined a formula to determine viral success.

Frequency (Who is talking about it?) x Proximity (How many people have they shared it with?) x Potency (How potent is the message?) x Incubation (How long after someone shares the content is it ultimately viewed?)

Read more about it and the checklist of 7 factor for video success here - Viral Video Formula Article.