YouTube Changes The Way It Ranks Video Views
October 14, 2012

YouTube Videos To Be Ranked Based On Viewing Time, Not Clicks

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

YouTube has announced changes to the way that its videos are ranked, with the amount of time that users spend watching content now outweighing raw number of views in terms of importance.

The changes, unveiled by the Google-owned video sharing service in an October 12 blog post, comes on the heels of similar changes made to its suggested videos service back in March of this year and is part of YouTube's "ongoing efforts to focus our video discovery features on watch time."

According to CNET's Casey Newton, the decision to rank videos based on the length of time people spend watching them "makes it more difficult to game the system by choosing a provocative thumbnail image for your video in an effort to drive clicks. Instead, creators will be rewarded for actually getting viewers to watch the whole video."

"While clicks are important, they don't necessarily reflect how deeply the user was engaged. Of course, it is possible that a video can run through its entirety in the background without the user having actually seen it," added Rachel King of ZDNet. "Nothing is going to perfectly identify user engagement, but YouTube looks like it could be on a better path to doing so."

Essentially, the system will reward a video which users regularly view for three minutes at a time by promoting it over similar content that receives more views, but tends to lose viewers after only a few seconds, PCMag reporter Chloe Albanesius explained. In addition, those who upload videos and want to see how their movies are performing can now review a "time watched" report via YouTube Analytics, she added.

One question raised by YouTube users in the comments section of the company's blog entry is whether the focus of the new system will be the percentage of the video watched, or the total number of minutes that users spend viewing each individual film. If it is the latter, the new system would seem to favor longer content over shorter videos, but that remains unclear at this time.

"Another improvement is being able to compare metrics in which users can simply compare trends and patterns across two different metrics," King said. "This could offer video producers and such with another opportunity to identify the value of a video by comparing time spent watching with estimated earnings“¦ Not only is it helpful about the product currently listed, but it could offer insights and influence how producers work on the next project."