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In a relative sense YouTube is big--it’s ten times more popular than its nearest competitor. But, YouTube isn’t satisfied--the average user spends a mere 15-minutes a day on the service. It looks at TV and laments: “[People] spend about five hours in front of the television.” And that’s action YouTube wants a piece of.
What’s YouTube’s plan? To give users what they want, even if they don’t know what they want. That way, YouTube hopes, users will spend a few more minutes per day at the site. (And, fingers-crossed, generate more ad revenue for YouTube, which is still losing money.)
According to Jamie Davidson, an associate product manager at YouTube, “every 45 seconds, [users] are stuck at a decision point. Any time there is a decision point, people may leave. We don’t want to take out the interactivity, but the default user experience should be a lot easier.” However, the current search-engine paradigm YouTube uses, Davidson concedes, isn’t the right one for discovering video.
The solution seems simple: let the users decide. Problem is YouTube users generally don’t know what they want. YouTube processed some 3.8 billion search queries in November, second only to its overlord Google. But, rather than specific requests, searches tend to be for general things, like “kittens”, or “funny pranks”. YouTube’s answer is to burrow into your soul, using sophisticated data-mining techniques like Netflix and Amazon, to find hits that match either what you’ve shown a preference for in the past, or what others ‘like you’ are watching.
None of YouTube’s efforts at innovation are expected to be rolled-out anytime soon. But, the ideas, as they come up for serious review, are expected to first see light of day at TestTube, where YouTube shows off its experimental efforts.
Image Credit: YouTube