How fast do you think YouTube is changing? This may seem like a trivial question, but YouTube changes can have a very serious impact on any video marketer’s planning for 2016. And I’m not just talking about how many new videos are being added each year either.
According to Tubular Intelligence, 434.4 million videos have been uploaded to YouTube in the last 365 days (generating 1.1 Trillion views!). And that’s 36.2% of the 1.2 billion videos which have been uploaded to YouTube all time (2005-2015). This is a dramatic increase in the total number of videos on YouTube, but that’s not the question that I’m asking today.
YouTube is Changing at a Rate of 33% Per Year
What I’m talking about is how rapidly the video platform itself is changing. Do you remember when YouTube changed the size of its video player to the wide aspect 16:9 ratio in November 2008? Do you remember when YouTube changed the way users could rate videos from one to five stars to thumbs up/thumbs down back in March 2010? Do you remember when YouTube changed its algorithm by replacing views with watch time in October 2012?
Well, it turns out that I’m one of the few people outside of YouTube who can provide an estimate that isn’t a scientific wild-ass guess. So, how fast is YouTube changing? Based on lots of critical data and some strategic insights, it's about 33% a year. Here are my calculations, so you can double-check my math and reach your own conclusions:
YouTube's Change Rate: 2% Per Month
The first edition of my book, YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day, was published on Aug. 17, 2009. The second edition of my step-by-step guide was published on Nov. 1, 2011. I had to thoroughly update the second edition to provide readers with what were then the very latest techniques for producing videos worth watching and content worth sharing, setting up a YouTube brand channel (remember those) and optimizing videos, building buzz for videos on blogs and social media sites, using YouTube’s recently introduced TrueView video ads, and tracking results with YouTube Insights (remember that) and Google Analytics.
In fact, 75% of the content in the second edition was significantly different from the first edition. And today, four years after it was published, 95.8% of the content in the second edition is woefully out-of-date. (Only 20 out of the 474 pages in the book don’t need to be updated today: Chapter 1 – A Short History of YouTube.) So, let’s do the math: 75% of the content in the first edition was obsolete in 26.5 months and 95.8% of the content in the second edition is now obsolete in 48 months later. This indicates that YouTube was changing about 2.8% a month, or 33.6% a year, from 2009 to 2011, and has been changing about 2.0% a month, or 24.0% a year, from 2011 to 2015.
I have been an instructor in the Rutgers executive education program since 2010. I’ve taught modules on YouTube Marketing and Video Marketing in the Mini-MBA programs in Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing. I also helped to create the content for the online course: Viral Video Marketing: Social Sharing Demystified. I present about 60 slides in each three-and-a-half hour-long class. And need to update my slides each and every time I present to a new class. Over the course of a year, I’ll update an average of 18 out of 60 slides – or 30% of the content.
Video Advertising on YouTube is Constantly Evolving
I have also created an 8-part AdWords Video Advertising Training course for Market Motive. The online course is aimed at online advertisers who want to run online video advertising campaigns by taking Google’s Video Advertising exam. The exam is currently made up of 77 questions. It’s updated about once a year and the most recent changes included 12 new questions and 7 reworded questions. That’s 24.7% of the questions on the exam.
Now, I also write for ReelSEO twice a week – or roughly 100 times a year. (Hey, I do take a week of vacation now and again.) And there has never been a slow news week that I can remember since I started writing for ReelSEO in July 2011. So, regular readers know that the world of online video is constantly spinning. But, now we have an idea of just how rapidly it’s spinning. From a quarter to a third of what we knew a year ago is now obsolete. And 12 months from now, between 24% to 34% of our best practices will need to be updated. And in the next 365 days a significant percentage of the plans that we’ve made for 2016 will have to change.
YouTube Changes: Keep Up or Fall Behind
I know, that’s why you come back here frequently to keep up with the latest developments and spot the most significant trends. But try explaining to your CMO or clients why your video content plan for 2016 isn’t set in concrete. Or try persuading your CFO or clients that your video marketing budget needs a “rainy day” fund. Or try pleading with your CEO or clients to give you more wiggle room when setting your video marketing goals.
Hopefully, if you let them know that YouTube is growing changing fast every year, then they’ll cut you a little slack. Heck, give it a shot. I won’t hurt to try and even if they still want something in writing that they can present to your board of directors or to the C-suite at the client's company, you will have laid the groundwork for the inevitable changes that you will need to make in the coming year.