Generally, I use Youtube to watch three things: basketball, technology and comedy.
Check out my personalized Youtube homepage, which is full of basketball, technology and comedy:
This is good right? WRONG!
What they recommend isn’t very good. I don’t want to see videos of gadgets that are eons old like the Galaxy Note 3. I don’t want to watch basketball highlights from January. There’s a time aspect that makes these recommendations lousy.
But that’s just window dressing. These recommendations suck for a more fundamental reason — Youtube is taking what I search for and making that the core of my discovery process. I don’t want Youtube to do that. I know how to get what I already know I want (search). What I need help on is finding good videos that I don’t know about (discovery). Make sense? No?
Let’s say you’re thinking about buying the Sony Xperia Z2 phone. So you Google it and get the information you’re looking for. Does this mean you want your news reader to be filled with Sony Xperia Z2 articles? Heck no! Google is about search; news readers are about discovery; and the two need not mix.
Youtube is making discovery dependent on search, which is just a dumb thing to do.
Guess what happens when Youtube doesn’t do that? Something a LOT better:
Bam! Now this is more like it. Basketball highlights about the playoffs, which are happening right now? Yes please. What happens when you boil Coke? Dang, I’d never bother to search for that, but now that you ask I don’t mind clicking through to get the answer.
This is the Youtube homepage when you visit incognito; i.e., when Youtube doesn’t know what you’ve searched for. It’s so much better. Looking at this page, there are so many more videos I would like to click on.
If I was in charge of Youtube, I would make this everyone’s Youtube homepage. To personalize it, ask users to select what categories they’d like to see more of and then recommend videos on that basis. I would most certainly de-link search from discovery.
What users search for is NOT necessarily what they’d like to see all the time.