YouTube’s Algorithm In 2023: What Changes Moving Forward?

youtube algorithm 2023

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For those who love to understand social media algorithms and the mysteries that surround them, we have a brand new chapter for your learning journey. 

In a recent interview, Rene Ritchie, YouTube’s Creator Liaison, and Todd Beaupre, YouTube’s Growth and Discovery Lead, discussed in great depth the future of YouTube’s algorithm and its implications for creators in 2023. 

If you are curious about this interview and want to know in detail how YouTube’s algorithm may affect you and your Marketing strategy, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’re going to untangle the interview, bringing the highlights and the principal information to be considered in your strategy moving forward. 

Spoiler alert: the measures for 2023 emphasize the company’s commitment to supporting creators and artists on its platform, signed off by its new leader, Neal Mohan, in early March. Let’s take a better look! 

What do we know about YouTube’s algorithm so far?

Before we discuss what changes in 2023, it is important to take a step back and see what we’ve learned about YouTube’s algorithms during recent years.

1. Clicks and views

In the early years, after being created in 2005, the platform needed views to consolidate itself as a strong video platform. Since everything revolved around the audience and views, YouTube’s first algorithm recommended videos that attracted the most views or clicks. The more people clicked on the video, the more it would appear for others to click on, too. 

This lasted until 2011 when the platform realized this kind of recommendation led to the practice known as clickbait: titles and thumbnails meticulously crafted to attract clicks, without worrying about the video content or user experience with the video itself. 

2. Watch time 

Aiming to bypass the clickbait movement, in 2012 the platform started to consider video time watched, and overall time spent on the platform  – a way to measure not just the clicks on the video, but also its relevance for users. The motto was: make videos your audience wants to watch, and the algorithm will reward you.

The problem was the platform did not consider the video size, or differentiate the video watched time from the overall time spent on the platforms. Things got a little confusing for creators, and the platform decided to persuade another path for the algorithm. 

3. Satisfaction 

Ok – then it was time to hear from the audience. Trying to measure its behavior was not bringing good results, so in 2015 the platform decided to ask users about their satisfaction levels, collecting information directly from the source through user surveys.

So, instead of recommending videos that other people are watching, YouTube started to recommend videos that each particular viewer would have more propensity to watch. And, well, the results were pretty good! In 2018, 70% of watch time on YouTube was spent watching recommended videos.

Who could possibly imagine that listening to your audience would be the right path after all, huh?!  

And what changes to YouTube’s algorithm moving forward? 

After testing different approaches, satisfaction and recommending personalized videos per user are here to stay. The platform understood this was the best method to incentivize spending time on the videos, and proved to be the best way to go. 

But, what has changed from 2015 to here? Well, since satisfaction is officially the main metric from now on, YouTube has better developed its criteria to recommend videos based on individual behavior. Instead of having a user survey after each video as we had in 2015, YouTube learned how to measure satisfaction by itself. 

When deciding which videos to recommend, the platform analyzes which videos the user enjoyed in the past, what topics or channels, and what videos are typically watched together – the video sequence users usually follow through. 

This first approach is important to understand what videos to recommend next, but YouTube also learned how to continue to improve the algorithm, making sure the suggestions are a good fit – beyond recommending the video, the algorithm analyzes if people actually watch it, and for how long. If not, the algorithm also learns from this user behavior to be more assertive next time. 

How does this impact creators and brands?   

If you are not sure if you should start including video in your Marketing strategy, numbers definitely say you should. According to the State of Marketing 2023, video has the highest ROI of any media format by far, at 25%. 

And in a scenario where YouTube surpassed Netflix as the top streaming platform in the US, YouTube’s 2.5 billion users watch 694,000 minutes of video each minute, and the platform’s recommendation system is responsible for the majority of those views. YouTube looks like a great platform for you to give it a try. 

Earlier this year, YouTube’s CEO made very clear the platform’s commitment to the creators as part of the company’s priority for 2023. In addition to the good numbers around video formats and YouTube, the platform will also recognize brands and creators committed to content creation there.

In practice – and according to the latest interview with YouTube’s representatives, creators who prioritize long-term relationships with the audience over immediate views will have great results in 2023. So, rather than getting a lot of views in a single week, brands and creators should focus on creating a lasting impression. 

And still according to the interview, YouTube will also support smaller channels by helping them to identify their audience. According to the interview, YouTube built an internal team to track the success of new creators on the platform and help them with insights to boost their videos. So, it looks like a great moment for those wanting to start a YouTube channel from scratch.  

It’s important to highlight that the algorithm doesn’t care about the video content – as long as it complies with the platform’s community guidelines and policies. All it cares about is the user experience, considering the criteria we mentioned above. 

With that in mind, one thing does not change: creators and brands should continue creating relevant content for their audience, and YouTube’s algorithm will recognize the effort – even more so if you have a long-term strategy being put into practice along with the good and relevant content. 

Do you want to continue to be updated with Marketing best practices? I strongly suggest that you subscribe to The Beat, Rock Content’s interactive newsletter. We cover all the trends that matter in the Digital Marketing landscape. See you there!


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